Whisper it, but things are changing in the world of port. For decades it’s been regarded as a post-dinner staple beloved of the Brits, but younger drinkers are starting to discover this most traditional of fortified wines.
Not only that, but there’s a new category – rosé port – that bridges the gap between ruby and white, while mixologists are now using various styles to add fruity depth to their cocktails. Port drunk by millennials – whatever next? But this is a most-welcome boost for this particular industry, which has suffered with a rather stuffy image for too long.
The traditional styles are still very popular, however, and with good reason – vintage port remains a great-value product, and the best bottles are exceptionally long lived, as are colheita ports – tawny ports from a single year.
Colheitas and other tawnies performed strongly at this year’s IWSC, with some incredibly high scores. Kopke Colheita 1957 achieved a remarkable 98/100pts, with the judges hailing its ‘elegance and incredible complexity’, as well as its soft, mellow notes of ripe stone fruit. Kopke’s Colheita 1978 fared almost as well, scoring 97pts and offering notes of caramel, molasses, vanilla and prune. Sandeman 20 Year Old Tawny NV was another 97pt Gold winner, oozing class and drawing praise for its aromas of toffee and caramel, with nutty and raisined notes.
Vintage ports were among the Golds, too. Bulas Porto Vintage 2018 is still a baby at the moment, but already displays impressive notes of black fruits, cassis, violets and mint, and will only improve with age. And Quinta do Portal Quinta Dos Muros Vintage 2018 wowed with its liquorice and cigar-box character and tight tannic structure. Expect both of these to hit their stride in a decade or so’s time.
All wines at the 2021 IWSC were judged blind by an expert panel. In charge was Dirceu Vianna Junior MW, assisted by Waitrose senior buyer Nick Room, C&C Group’s Harriet Kininmonth, Wine Society buyer Matthew Horsley and JetVine’s Kelly Stevenson.
It’s encouraging to see the fortified wine finding its way into the hands of new drinkers. There were fears that its drinkers were a dying breed, but the new styles and ways of drinking it look set to keep it going for some years yet. Here are the very best ports to try from this year’s IWSC.
16 award-winning ports from the IWSC 2021
- Sogevinus Fine Wines, Kopke Colheita 1957 1957; 98/100
- Sogrape Vinhos, Sandeman 20 Year Old Tawny NV; 97/100
- Sogevinus Fine Wines, Kopke Colheita 1978 1978; 97/100
- Sogevinus Fine Wines, Kopke 40 Year Old Tawny NV; 96/100
- M.Bulas Cruz, Bulas Porto Vintage 2018; 95/100
- Quinta do Portal, Quinta Dos Muros Vintage 2018; 95/100
- Sogrape Vinhos, Sandeman 40 Year Old Tawny NV; 95/100
- Aldi, 40 Year Old Tawny NV; 94/100
- Symington Family Estates, Waitrose No 1 Crusted Port NV; 94/100
- M.Bulas Cruz, Porto Sanders White Reserve NV; 93/100
- Cockburn’s, LBV 2015; 93/100
- Vista Alegre, 30 Year Old Tawny NV; 92/100
- Symington Family Estates, Waitrose No 1 Reserve Tawny NV; 91/100
- Taylor’s, LBV 2016; 91/100
- The Port of Leith Distillery, Reserve Tawny NV; 91/100
- Fonseca, Bin 27 Reserve NV; 91/100
How do we judge these wines?
We run a tightly structured, rigorous wine tasting process. That means that each wine sample is pre-poured into numbered glasses and assessed blindly by the judges. Most importantly, our IWSC wine judges are experts in their field, who work across all sectors of the wine industry. For evidence, see our full list of judges.
How do we score these wines?
Only the best wines sampled receive a Gold or Silver award. For example, to win Gold, wines have to score between 95 and 100 points. Meanwhile, Silver wines range from 90 to 94 points. Click here to read more on our scoring system.
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Top Rated Bottles
Sogevinus Fine Wines, Kopke Colheita 1957 1957
Sogrape Vinhos, Sandeman 20 Year Old Tawny NV
Sogevinus Fine Wines, Kopke Colheita 1978 1978
Sogevinus Fine Wines, Kopke 40 Year Old Tawny NV
M.Bulas Cruz, Bulas Porto Vintage 2018
Quinta do Portal, Quinta Dos Muros Vintage 2018
Sogrape Vinhos, Sandeman 40 Year Old Tawny NV
Aldi, 40 Year Old Tawny NV
Symington Family Estates, Waitrose No 1 Crusted Port NV
M.Bulas Cruz, Porto Sanders White Reserve NV
Cockburn's, LBV 2015
Vista Alegre, 30 Year Old Tawny NV
Symington Family Estates, Waitrose No 1 Reserve Tawny NV
Taylor's, LBV 2016
The Port of Leith Distillery, Reserve Tawny NV
Fonseca, Bin 27 Reserve NV
Behind the Bottle: Sandeman 40-Year-Old Tawny Port
Witnessing the tides of change in Porto’s Factory House
2017 vintage Port tasted and assessed
Inside World of Wine: Portugal’s museum district dedicated to vinho
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