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Novidades in the Port world:

50 year old Tawny and 50 year old White Port

Very little in this world is as consistent as Port regulations. The categories are extremely steady and new types have to be approved by quite a few to be finally able to wear the selo of the Portwine-Institute (Instituto dos Vinhos do Douro e do Porto (IVDP)) either on the bottle neck or the back label.

When it comes down to the cask matured Tawny Ports, the ones with an indication of age have always been categorised as 10, 20, 30 and over 40 years of age. No 5 years (as with Madeira) nor 12 or 15 years (as with Whisky) were allowed. Fellow Port lovers who were not lucky enough to be born in great Vintage or Colheita years could celebrate their first four decades with these, but then had to switch to something else to open for jubilee birthdays or anniversaries. Since January this year and with the new regulamento 3/2022in place, it is now legal to bottle 50 year old Tawny Ports and White Ports with the same age, which previously would fit in the category Very Old Tawny/ Very old White Port, but were not allowed to wear the number “50” on the label.

Since old Tawny stocks are getting scarcer these days, only few Producers took the chance to put half a century of Port into the bottle. Many did not even bottle the full range of the 10-40 year old Tawnies in the past. Most prominently Dirk Niepoort and Jorge Rosas of Ramos Pinto never produced a 40y old Tawny and Quinta do Noval’s Christian Seely never bottled a 30y old, but some producers with a focus on Tawny Port and with enough old stocks bottled this new category already and some are soon to follow. First on the market was Miguel Braga from Quinta do Mourao with their brand S. Leonardo. Miguel put the allowed “Very old Tawny/White Port” on the label, but also a necklace with an “L” to indicate the age (latin number 50) already some years ago and circumnavigated the regulations this way. Rozes will bottle at the end of the year. “We will also bottle a 70 year old (very very old) Port”, says Managing Director Antonio Saraiva and Symington’s chief enologist Charles Symington mentions, that they will bottle a 50 year old Tawny next year. “But it was a great change of the regulations” says Quinta do Vallado’s co-owner Francisco Ferreira: “I did produce 1.000 half-litre bottles and thought they would last until Christmas, but we ran out of stock already in May…”. The very very old Port is the second change to the legislation, but will be bottled by even fewer Produces due to stocks.

Why are the 50 year old so much more expensive than the 30 or 40 year Tawny Ports? Because they obviously age averagely one or two decades more, but only great quality Ports can sustain the oxidative process for such an extended time. Despite the fact that 3-5% evaporate every year, producers need to check the casks regularly to evaluate the further ageing potential of the wines. The 50 year old Tawny and White Ports currently retail for around 180 to 250 GBP, which is almost twice the price of the 10 year younger sibling.

Please be aware that Tawny Ports are bottled for direct consumption. Storing does not help the Ports in most cases as only the full bodied aromas fade with more bottle age. As my personal rule of thumb, you can leave them for half the time in the bottle than they have aged in the cask. For a 50 year old Tawny Port, this would be a quarter of a century. The same issue goes with the open bottles. Since these Tawnies have lived with Oxygen for many decades, they do not get better after opening. A month would be the absolute maximum, but given the intensity of the aromas of the Ports, it should not be challenging to finish them sooner.

 

TASTING NOTES 50 YEAR OLD WHITE PORTS

DR PORT VERY OLD WHITE PORT – This Port originates from only one old cask in the cellar: Bright golden color with shades of orange. Intense bouquet of all kinds of yellow fruit, mostly peach and apricot, floral notes in the background. Great texture in the palate with perfectly integrated acidity. Tobacco, ripe peach and balanced smoky flavours. Long, very long aftertaste. 97

Kopke 50 year old White Port – It was autumn 2021 on the legendary Forrester Quinta da Boavista and I was able to try this new Port together with the red sibling. Medium-orange colour with some brownish reflections. Complex, but balanced coffee-, malty and nutty aromas in the nose. Balancing acidity with fresh chocolate, coffee and malt on the complex palate. Long aftertaste. 96

S. LEONARDO 50 YEAR OLD WHITE PORT – “L” – Medium orange with golden reflections. A thrilling mix of complexity and balance on the nose with oranges, apricots, fresh herbs, coffee, milk-chocolate and a perfect hint of raisins. Fantastic acidic structure which plays greatly with the sweetness. A mix of yellow fruits with apricots, yellow plum and a hint of lemon peel. Coffee and chocolate are completing the aromas. Long, but balanced aftertaste. 96

 

TASTING NOTES 50 YEAR OLD TAWNY PORTS

MESSIAS 50 YEAR OLD TAWNY PORT (cask sample) – Messias is bottling this soon with sending a cask sample whilst ensuring the final blend to be fixed already: Light-green reflections in the orange-brown colour. Floral-fresh bouquet with caramel, tobacco and mixed nuts. Strong supporting acidity with walnut, tobacco, butterscotch and chocolate. Very long and multi-layered aftertaste. 95

KOPKE 50 YEAR OLD TAWNY PORT – Yellow-green reflections in the dark-red color. Herbal notes, butterscotch and malt, the nose also reveals a spicy background. The herbs continue well on the palate, malt, milk chocolate and honey. Long, fresh aftertaste which is perfectly balanced by the acidity. Tasted for the first time with at Quinta da Boavista and later on with a great view from Quinta do Crasto to Kopke‘s Quinta Sao Luiz. 95

SANDEMAN 50 YEAR OLD TAWNY PORT – Does not vary in color that much from Kopke’s 50y old White Port and the lightest in colour of the Tawnies. Fully transparent bright red with light green and golden reflections. Elegance and complexity rival in the bouquet with intense honey, caramel, fresh herbs and some smoky notes. Very good integrated acidity, milk chocolate, herbs and caramel on the palate. Long and fresh aftertaste. This is the most balanced of the 50y old Tawnies. 96

S. LEONARDO 50 YEAR OLD TAWNY PORT – Very dark-red colour with orange reflections and an orange rim. Slightly perfumed bouquet with a great complexity to follow: herbs, nuts, dried figs, raisins and coffee. Creamy palate with a hint of spices and tobacco. Chocolate and coffee. Long and pleasant aftertaste. 96

TAYLOR 50 YEAR OLD TAWNY PORT “GOLDEN AGE” – The darkest of the bunch with lots of yellow-green reflections in the dark-brown colour with orange reflections. Malt, all kinds of herbs, chocolate and floral notes in the nose. Perfectly balanced palate with strong, but greatly integrated acidity and intense honey and caramel. Very long aftertaste, a bit rustic, but in a very positive way. 97

QUINTA DO VALLADO 50 YEAR OLD TAWNY PORT – Olive and yellow rim on the red-orange colour. A hint of complementing acetone, all kinds of nuts and dry fruits, tobacco. Creamy and rustic palate with perfect acidity. Hazelnut, milk-chocolate, marzipan and tobacco. Fantastic length – goes on and on and on. Alike the whole range of the Vallado aged Tawnies: Fantastic. 97

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