What is Tawny Port?
Tawny Port is a light and aromatic fortified wine famous for its nutty flavor and oxidative characteristics. It originated from the colder regions of Douro valley in Northern Portugal.
Most Tawny Ports are a blend of vintage wines, Colheita is an exception.
Tawny Ports are made from grapes grown in the cooler regions of Baixo Corgo and Cima Corgo wine regions.
How is Tawny Port made?
Tawny Port winemakers usually make this wine in-house using a blend of different vintage wines.
Following the basic process of creating Port wine, the difference in methods comes after fermentation. Unlike vintage ports, tawny port is aged in oak casks called lodge pipes of 600L and 640L where the oxidization happens. The aging process takes about seven to forty years.
The aging process helps in esterification of the wine. The color fades overtime developing ethyl esters and acetals, making the tawny port more aromatic and fruitier in taste.
Types of Aged Tawny Port
The Port and Douro Wine Institute (IVDP) has given different designations to Tawny Port on the basis of time spent in the oak barrels.
Following are the different types-
The Reserve label on Tawny Port indicates that the wine is young or aged for about 7 years. Reserve Tawny is usually medium golden-brown in color and develops fruity flavors with notes of maturity.
The aging done for 10 years in oak barrels gives Tawny Port wine a slight brick red color with mellow notes of chocolate and nuts. It is a blend of vintage wines with complex unbalanced flavors.
This aged bottle indicates an enigma of youth bringing out refreshing fruity flavors with savory notes combined in the wine. The color of this Tawny Port ranges from pink to amber orange depending on the winemaker’s blend.
This tawny port has enhanced aging notes of burnt caramel, honey and wood which overpowers the fruity flavors making it subtle. The color of this tawny port changes to deep brown with hints of green.
With richer and sweeter notes than any other Tawny Port, this 40-year-old wine show maturation. It has an aroma of “vinagrinho” which means vinegar and is highly scented.
The winemaker blends it so perfectly which is showcased through the tawny with balancing flavors of tannins.
Unlike any other Tawny Port, Colheita is extracted from a single year’s harvest. Aged for over 7 years before packing them into a bottle, this wine is one of the softest, smoothest and fruitiest Tawny Port.
Drinking and Serving Tawny Port
The final batch prepared after blending various vintage wines are submitted to the IVDP tasting panel for approval. But the selection process begins from the vineyard.
The ideal temperature of serving Tawny Port is at about 10 to 12 degrees Celsius to appreciate them at their finest.
Unlike other vintage wines which oxidize and go bad quite rapidly, Tawny Port remains fine for almost a course of one week. After a week, it will start loosing the freshness and some delicate flavors.
The final lote may be made up of anything between 10 and 50 different component wines with younger, fresher, fruit-driven Ports balancing older, mature styles.