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Tawny Port: Styles, Prices, Best Wines (2020)

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Anthony Zhang
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September 14, 2020

Keen to discover everything about Tawny Port wine before buying one?

Vintage Port and the sweet, refreshing Tawny Port are two most universally recognized fortified wines. The silky smooth Tawny Port is full of complex flavors and seductive aromas that leave you wanting more! 

In this detailed article, discover everything about Tawny Port - the unique winemaking processes, how it’s different from Vintage Port, its delectable flavors, aging process, and the best Tawny Port Wines to buy in 2020

Also find out the easiest way to buy these delicious wines! 

Further reading

Want to add a sparkle to your Christmas meal? Check out the best wines to buy for Christmas 2020!
Dive into the world of delectable red wines with this detailed guide to Red Wines.
Check out this fascinating guide to the best White Wines you should try in 2020.

This Article Contains

  1. W & J Graham's 'Ne Oublie' Tawny Port, Portugal 
  2. Real Companhia Velha Quinta das Carvalhas 'Memories' Very Old Tawny Port, Portugal 
  3. Niepoort V V Old Tawny Port, Portugal 
  4. 1969 W & J Graham's Single Harvest Tawny Port, Portugal 
  5. Fonseca 40 Year Old Tawny Port, Portugal 
  6. Vasques de Carvalho 40 Years Old Tawny Port, Portugal 
  7. Taylor Fladgate 40 Year Old Tawny Port, Portugal 
  8. Dow's 40 Year Old Tawny Port, Portugal 
  9. Burmester Tordiz 40 Year Old Tawny Port, Portugal 
  10. Pocas Junior 40 Year Old Tawny Port, Portugal 

What is Tawny Port?

Tawny Port

Tawny Port is a light and aromatic fortified wine admired for its nutty flavor and oxidative character. It is made from the indigenous grapes grown in the colder regions of Douro valley in northern Portugal.

Most Tawny Ports are non-vintage wines made by blending different vintages. Colheita is an exception. (We’ll tell you more about it in a bit.)

To understand Tawny Port better, let’s take a look at the basics of Port Wine itself.

Port Wine (Regions, Grapes Used, Styles)

An authentic Port wine comes from the Douro Valley region of Portugal. These rich, complex wines are usually enjoyed as dessert wines.

Port Wine Regions

The Douro appellation has three official Port wine zones.

  • Baixo Corgo 
  • Cima Corgo
  • Douro Superiore


Tawny Ports are mostly made from the grapes grown in the cooler Baixo Corgo and Cima Corgo wine regions.

Grape Varieties Used in Port Blends

Grape Varieties Used

More than 40 indigenous grapes are allowed in the Port blend, but there are five main ones: 

  • Touriga Nacional
  • Touriga Franca
  • Tinta Roriz (Portuguese name for the Tempranillo grape)
  • Tinta Barroca
  • Tinto Cão

In Tawny Port wine blends, the dominant grapes are Tinta Roriz, Tinta Barroca, and Tinto Cao are. Touriga Nacional and Touriga Franca are used in lesser quantities.

Styles of Port Wine

Officially, there are four main Port wine styles. 

  • Ruby Port: Deep red Port wines like Vintage Port and Late-Bottled Vintage (LBV) Port 
  • Tawny Port: A sweet wine (aged in oak casks) full of nutty and caramel flavors 
  • White Port: Made from indigenous white wine grapes, white Ports range from fresh aperitifs to complex and layered beverages.
  • Rose Port: A younger Port admired for its sweet flavors of strawberry, violets, and caramel

Now, let’s look at Tawny Port in detail.

How is Tawny Port Made?

Tawny Port Made

Tawny Port winemakers focus more on creating a house style using a blend of multiple vintages rather than making a vintage wine. 

Tawny Port follows the basic Port wine process (fortification happens during fermentation.) The difference in methods comes after fermentation. 

Unlike Ruby and Vintage Ports, Tawny is aged in 600L and 640L seasoned oak casks called lodge pipes, where they go through gradual oxidation. The aging can be from seven years to as long as forty years. 

The oak cask aging also helps in the esterification of the wine. As the color fades, the wine develops ethyl esters and acetals, making it more aromatic and fruity. 

What is Aged Tawny Port? 

Aged Tawny Port

Tawny Port wines are given different designations by the Port and Douro Wine Institute (IVDP) based on the time spent in the oak barrels. 


Read more: Find out the ideal ways to design the perfect Wine Cellar for your collection

1. Reserve

Tawny Port with a Reserve label means that the wine is young (or aged for about 7 years.) Reserve Tawny is usually medium golden-brown with fruity flavors and hints of maturity. 

2. 10-year old

10 Year Old Tawny wines have a brilliant blend of complex unbalanced flavors. The aging in oak barrels gives the wine a slight brick red color with mellow notes of chocolate and nuts. 

3. 20-year old

20 Year Old Aged Tawny is a well-balanced enigma of youth with delicate freshness and fruit flavors combined with the savory notes of oak barrel aging. 20 Year Old Aged Ports can vary from tawny pink to amber orange depending on the house style. 

4. 30-year old

The notes of wood aging (burnt caramel and honey) become dominant after 30 years while the young fruity flavors remain subtle. The wine turns deep brown, and touches of green appear in the body. 

5. 40-year old

Richer and sweeter than other Aged Tawnies, 40 Year Old Tawny wine shows notes of maturation. It has a highly scented and lifted nose, known locally as ‘vinagrinho’ (a little vinegar.) 


40 Year Old Tawny wines showcase the knowledge and blending skills of the winemaker through the delicate balance of tannins and flavors. 

6. Colheita

Unlike other aged Tawny Port wines, the Colheita is a wine made from a single year’s harvest. 


Colheita wines are aged for at least seven years in wood before bottling - though many winemakers age it for much longer. It is one of the softest and most fruit-driven wines. 


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Taste and Characteristics of Tawny Port Wine

Taste and Characteristics of Tawny Port Wine

A fine Tawny Port displays a huge spectrum of flavors and aromas. This sweet wine typically showcases notes of almonds, toasted walnuts, hazelnuts, dried fruit, butterscotch, toffee, and crème brûlée.


Here are the main characteristics of Tawny Port:

  • Colors: A range of hues from tawny pink to deep brown - depending on the house style
  • Alcohol content: Around 19% to 20%
  • Residual sugar: Over 100g/L
  • Acidity levels: Low, about 3% to 4%

Read more: Know the right glass to serve your wine in this detailed guide to picking the right Wine Glass!

Food Pairings with Tawny Ports

Tawny Port is generally served as an aperitif or a dessert wine - thanks to its sweetness and distinct flavors. 

Pair your Tawny Port wine with blue cheese, soft cheese, or savory desserts like pecan pie and cheesecake to get the best of its flavor. They also pair well with dark chocolate.

How to Serve Tawny Port Wine

Since they’re aged in wooden casks, you don’t need to use a decanter for Tawny Ports. Serve them directly from the bottle at about 10°C-12°C.


Read more: Here’s a quick and simple guide to estimating calories in a red wine glass.

Best Tawny Port Wines in 2020 (Including Tasting Notes, Prices)

Apart from the popular Sandeman Porto, Noval Tawny, and Cockburn Port, there’s a range of Tawny Ports to choose from! 

Here are some of our favorite bottles that you should buy in 2020.

1. W & J Graham's 'Ne Oublie' Tawny Port, Portugal 

W & J Graham's

Created in 1882 by Andrew James Semyngtom in Portugal, this rare, complex wine has been finally bottled after 130 years. 

The dominant aroma includes dried orange, tobacco, dusty florals, dried cherries, exotic Indian spices, and smoke hints. Beautifully balanced on the palate, the wine gives subtle saline and citrus notes with black cherry and balsamic spices. 

Price of W & J Graham’s ‘Ne Oublie’ Tawny Port, Portugal: $9,144

2. Real Companhia Velha Quinta das Carvalhas 'Memories' Very Old Tawny Port, Portugal

Real Companhia Velha Quinta das Carvalhas 'Memories' Very Old

This wine was created in 1867 with Quinta das Carvalhas grapes. After 149 years, the juice was blended with the 1900 harvest. 

Although not as nutty in taste as other Tawnies, this sweet red wine gives off caramel, cherry, brown sugar, and toffee flavors on the palate. 

Price of Real Companhia Velha Quinta das Carvalhas 'Memories' Very Old Tawny Port, Portugal: $2500

3. Niepoort V V Old Tawny Port, Portugal 

Niepoort V V Old Tawny Port, Portugal 

With a range of layered notes, the Niepoort V V Old Tawny Port is close to perfection! 

It had a heavily scented nose with aromas of dried fruit, raisins, honey, smoke, cigar leaf, and coffee. Silky smooth on the palate, you will notice a vibrant acidity that gives the wine a bright freshness.

Price of Niepoort V V Old Tawny Port, Portugal: $1828

4. 1969 W & J Graham's Single Harvest Tawny Port, Portugal 

1969 W & J Graham's Single Harvest Tawny Port, Portugal 

This is a limited-edition Colheita Tawny Port wine made from six selected barrels. Full of woody flavors and hints of aging, this wine is ready to be served along with a dark chocolate dessert.

Price of 1969 W & J Graham's Single Harvest Tawny Port, Portugal: $704

5. Fonseca 40 Year Old Tawny Port, Portugal 

Fonseca 40 Year Old

The Fonseca 40 Year Old Tawny Port is a mature Tawny Port wine. The richness of ripe fruit gives this wine a luscious texture. The wine gives off flavors of walnuts, marmalade jelly, and a lasting flavour.

Price of Fonseca 40 Year Old Tawny Port, Portugal: $231

6. Vasques de Carvalho 40 Years Old Tawny Port, Portugal 

Vasques de Carvalho 40 Years Old

This 40 Years Old Tawny Port from the Vasques de Carvalho port house has an amber body with slightly green tints. It showcases a seductive bouquet full of caramel and honey notes with subtle hints of tobacco leaves and iodine.

Price of Vasques de Carvalho 40 Years Old Tawny Port, Portugal: $228

7. Taylor Fladgate 40 Year Old Tawny Port, Portugal 

Taylor Fladgate 40 Year Old

A classic Aged Tawny Port wine, the Taylor Fladgate 40 Year Old Tawny Port is full of spicy aromas and nutty notes. 

On the nose, you get a concentrated aroma of dried fruit, honey, and Christmas spices. The palate has layered notes of nutmeg, roasted coffee, and walnuts. 

Price of Taylor Fladgate 40 Year Old Tawny Port, Portugal: $209

8. Dow's 40 Year Old Tawny Port, Portugal 

Dow's 40 Year Old

Dow’s 40 Year Old Tawny Port is made from ‘A’ classified vineyards and is aged in seasoned oak casks.

This intense and concentrated wine is dominated by fig and walnut notes. Flashes of green tea and ginger give the wine a refreshing flavor. On the palate, you will notice a sweet taste of dried apricot.

Price of Dow's 40 Year Old Tawny Port, Portugal: $192

9. Burmester Tordiz 40 Year Old Tawny Port, Portugal 

Burmester Tordiz 40 Year Old

A caramel colored wine, the Burmester Tordiz 40 Year Old Tawny Port is full of pleasant fruit flavors and cask aging notes. The full and rounded palate is dominated by walnut, caramel, honey, and almond notes. 

Price of Burmester Tordiz 40 Year Old Tawny Port, Portugal: $184

10. Pocas Junior 40 Year Old Tawny Port, Portugal 

Pocas Junior 40 Year Old

The Pocas Junior 40 Year Old Tawny Port has intense aromas of orange blossom and white ginger. The palate is smooth with notes of hazelnut oil, dried nectarine, and white sesame. 

Price of Pocas Junior 40 Year Old Tawny Port, Portugal: $179

Now, Tawnies are great wines for drinking - but, are they meant for long-term investing?

Should You Invest in Tawny Ports?

Old Vintage Port Wine

Aged Tawny Port wines are meant to be drunk just after the wine is released. 

But, if you’re looking for a Port wine as a profitable investment, you should go for a Vintage Port wine

Vintage port wines like Dow, Warre, and Graham are bottled after about two years in the barrel, which gives them a great aging potential - from 20 to 50 years.

Some Vintage Port wines (like Niepoort 1863 Vintage) can age up to 100 years!

More importantly, how do you find the best and some of the rarest Vintage Port wines from a prestigious winery without worrying about a counterfeit one? 

The best way would be to buy your wine bottle through a trusted wine investment company like Vinovest.

Buy Rich Port Wines and Other Collectibles through Vinovest

vinovest

Vinovest is a world-class wine investment company that helps you buy, store, and sell authentic Chardonnay, a Riesling ice wine or eiswein, or any other fine wine from across the globe (be it from the United States, France, or Australia).

How Does It Work?

Vinovest makes investing in wine super easy with only four steps. 

  • Sign up on the Vinovest website.
  • Share your investment preferences and risk appetite by filling a small questionnaire. 
  • Fund your account (minimum $1000).
  • Start building your wine portfolio!

Benefits

Here’s why you should invest with Vinovest.

1. Best Prices

Vinovest buys your wine bottle directly from wineries, global wine exchanges, and wine auctions. So you get only the best price for your wine bottle.

2. Optimal Storage

Your precious Lambrusco, Madeira, and other wine bottles are stored in bonded warehouses at the optimal temperature with the right light and vibration.

3. Insurance and Security

Every wine bottle you buy through Vinovest comes with a full-coverage insurance policy that covers breakage and loss. 

In addition to this, your sweet white wine bottle is kept under 24/7 surveillance. The warehouses also have an additional power backup facility in case of a power cut.

4. Access to a Global Network

Investing with Vinovest gives you the advantage of accessing Vinovest’s global wine network of rare wineries, limited edition wines, and new vineyards, even in lesser-known wine regions. 

5. Provenance and Authenticity

Vinovest’s wine experts check the provenance of every bottle you buy. So, you don’t ever have to worry about a counterfeit bottle!

6. Low Overall Price 

Vinovest charges a minimal fee of 2.85% (2.5% on a portfolio of $50,000 or more) in addition to funding your account. 

This fee covers buying, selling, storage, authentication, full-coverage insurance, and portfolio management. Also, bonded warehouses do not charge VAT or excise duty, so you get a tax benefit.

7. Hassle-Free Delivery

Want to pour your friends a glass of fine vintage?

Vinovest will get your wine bottle delivered to your (or your buyer’s) doorstep - be it to New York or Tokyo. 

8. Ownership

You have complete ownership of your prestigious Screaming Eagle and other wines!

Build a Rewarding Wine Collection!

Tawny Port is the perfect wine to uncork on a special occasion. 


But, when it comes to long term wine investment, you should pick Vintage Ports, or other investment-grade wines from around the world. 

The easiest way to build a collection of these coveted wines is to use a world-class investment platform like Vinovest.

Sign up today and start building a rewarding wine portfolio!

Further reading

Step into the world of fabulous Red Wines in This Incredibly Useful Red Wine Guide!

Written by

Anthony Zhang

Anthony is a repeat entrepreneur who has previously founded and sold two companies, EnvoyNow and KnowYourVC. He has also held leadership positions at Blockfolio and is a board member at RateMyInvestor.
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