Inside a port cellar in Porto
Handpicked by IWSC
Wine Handpicked by IWSC 21 August 2021

16 award-winning ports to try

From colheita tawny ports to vintage bottlings offering exceptional value, check out this selection of fortified wines declared the best ports in 2021 by the IWSC
Introduction and recommendations by
IWSC Judges

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.

 

Douro Valley vineyards in the sun
A view across Portugal's Douro Valley, where grapes are grown and port is made before cellaring takes place in Porto

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.

Kopke port pipes on a boat of the river Douro
Port pipes from Kopke making their journey down the River Douro to rest and mature in the city of Porto - the producer's fortified wines won big at the IWSC 2021

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.

More from Club Oenologique

Club O is an exclusive community and the go-to platform for wine and spirit lovers. Our flagship Club Oenologique magazine offers even more insights for enthusiasts and collectors. Based in London, our editorial team tells informative, inspirational stories from the world of wine and spirits, gastronomy and travel, as well as covering recommendations and the latest trends in drink. You can take a look at our Explained series, for instance, where we’re tackling grape varieties, regions and styles of wine and spirits. Alternatively, visit our Ask the Sommelier section, where experts answer your wine-related questions.

Have you joined The Collection yet?

Get access to all our back issues via our free digital archive – and enjoy the best rate on a magazine subscription