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. Top-scorer Calém 40 Year Old Tawny scored 97/100 and wowed judges with its Christmassy aromas and demerara sugar and toffee apple on its long finish. Kopke’s Colheita 2005 achieved an impressive 95/100, with the judges hailing its ‘heady mix of marmalade, tea leaf and nutty complexity.’ Graham’s 20 YO Tawny also scored 95/100, offering ‘aromas of Christmas cake, blackcurrant leaf and tropical fruit.’ Among the vintage ports, Quinta do Pégo’s 2020 scored 96/100 thanks to its nutty, concentrated flavours – making it an ideal wine for lying down.
All wines at the 2023 IWSC were judged blind by an expert panel. In charge was Dirceu Vianna Junior MW, assisted by fellow Master of Wine Matthew Forster, drinks retail consultant Cat Lomax and The Dorchester’s wine buyer Igor Sotric.
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.
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 a premium lifestyle publication for curious and discerning wine and spirits lovers. Renowned for inspiring stories and trusted expertise, we connect people to the joys of the world, through the lens of wine, spirits and other interesting drinks. Based in London, our team of expert writers seek out thoughtful stories that introduce our readers to new people, places, drinking discoveries and insights, as well as exploring fresh perspectives on familiar themes. Membership to The Collection offers exclusive access to leading critics’ tasting reports, scores, tastings and events, especially tailored to collectors and investors. Our flagship Club Oenologique magazine offers even more insights for enthusiasts and collectors.