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Which Port for a Gift?

January 18, 2012
Question by: Sophie, Middlesborough, GB

Q:

I want to buy some port for my Uncle's 50th birthday but I'm not sure which one to buy. I want one that is a good all rounder, affordable and a decent type.

A:

Hi Sophie, Port makes a wonderful gift.  Vintage Ports from the 1980s and 1990s are drinking well now, but will continue to age gracefully in cool, dark cellar conditions for years to come, so this makes a superb gift your uncle can enjoy at any time.  A quick check on the UK sites for Vintage Marque and Berry Brothers & Rudd show vintages readily available from these decades for many of our brands.

If you know your uncle's taste preferences, this quick summary of our leading brand styles will guide your selection:

Graham’s – is the richest and sweetest of all our brands, very full bodied and luscious
Dow’s – has a drier profile, and a character dominated by fruit and peppery tannins, can be austere in youth but matures magnificently
Warre’s – is elegant, balanced, has wonderful finesse
Quinta do Vesuvio – produces concentrated, powerful wines characterised by ripe fruit
Cockburn’s – is drier, like the Dow’s, but its character is generally more developed than Dow’s due to a higher wood to wine ratio throughout the ageing process

If your uncle is a real connoisseur of Port who would appreciate something a little unusual, you might look for one of our niche brands - Smith Woodhouse is characterised by our head winemaker Charles Symington as quite concentrated and perhaps a bit more rustic than our other brands.  Smith Woodhouse, Quarles Harris and Gould Campbell are less widely known and distributed, but for just that reason are priced very well and often praised by critics as representing excellent value for money.  When you have found a Vintage Port you might like to buy, don't forget to use our Knowledge Base to review the Vintage Report for the year and wine specific tasting notes for more information!

You don't name a budget, but if you find Vintage Ports to be out of reach, then look at other Port styles:  Rubies are full of intense fresh red and black fruit, like a very young Vintage Port - in the UK Graham's Six Grapes and Cockburn's Special Reserve are particularly popular and widely available.  Late Bottled Vintage is another good value for money choice for something like a young Vintage - and Warre's Bottle Matured LBV is unique and highly praised by critics.  Finally, Tawny Ports offer a very different character profile:  these are blended from wines that have aged in small casks so the wine has oxidised.  The result is a flavour profile dominated by dried fruit, honey, citrus and almond or hazelnut in younger tawnies, with complex notes of cigar box, leather, caramel and more in the 30 and 40 Year Old Tawnies.  Graham's offers a full range of Tawnies, and Warre's Otima 10 and 20 Year Old Tawnies are also very popular.

Best wishes to your uncle on his birthday!



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