Port Wine Tasting
As we’d opted for ‘The Graham’s Tasting’ we by-passed the main tasting room and entered the Private Vintage Room, a large library-like room with leather armchairs. A bottle each of Graham’s Six Grapes Reserve, 30 Years Old Tawny and Vintage 2003 were lined up with two glasses of each poured and ready. There was a lit panel in the table to stand the Port on so the colour could be seen clearly. A friendly member of Graham’s staff talked us through each Port.
The flavour of the Port is due to the way it has been aged and there are three ways to age it; in the bottle, in small oak cask or in a large vat. Seasoned casks are always used in this process.
Our three glasses of Port Wine
Reserves are a blend of young wines from different harvests which have been aged 4-7 years in barrels before being bottled. They are full and fruity with a rich red colour and slightly more refined than a Ruby Port.
Contrastingly Tawny Ports, as they’re aged in oak barrels, come into contact with oxygen. The colour changes, from a deep purple-red of the newly barrelled wine to rich tawny autumnal shades. They taste more of nuts and dried fruits. The colour depends on the amount of time spent in the barrel which for higher quality aged Tawnies can be 30 years or over.
Vintage Ports are made from the finest wines and only when a vintage year is declared by the Port producers. They are only aged for 2-3 years in wooden vats before they’re bottled where they’ll continue to mature for at least 15 years and some for over 30 years. After this they have no further contact with the air and only slow changes in the colour, structure, and character of the wine takes place.
Reserve, Tawny and Vintage Port
The glasses were quite large so we took our time and spent about an hour in the tasting room, making sure that we finished every last drop! Each of the Ports we tried were quite different from each other and all were delicious. My favourite was the mellow Tawny.