Taylor’s has been a family company since 1692. Walk into any liquor store of repute in the world and you’ll see their Port. You don’t have that longevity without producing a good product. Remember that chilling it will bring down the alcohol and enhance its flavour. It matches extremely well with soft cheeses and egg-based desserts. It will keep well for several weeks once opened provided it is stored in cool conditions.
Like the Niepoort 10 year old Tawny we reviewed recently the colour is similar being orange brickish and transparent. The nose has lost the minute brandy nose the Niepoort had as It has incorporated itself seamlessly into the wine. The nose definitely is heavily influenced by essence or orange, but there are honey, nuts and some chocolate covered cherries. On the palate the first characteristic that strikes you is its long finish and the burn experienced with the Niepoort 10 year old is not there most likely due to the disappearance of the brandy on the nose and palate. Conclusion is that Tawny Port mellows and softens with age. You might pick up some apricot and orange. They often look at me with a puzzled expression in the Douro when I say some Tawny Ports have a touch of raisin pie on the palate as this one does. I think raisin pie has become extinct in Montreal where it seemed to have born! Perhaps I can refer to something Canadians are familiar with being butter tarts and say this Tawny is kissed by butter tarts! There is a hint of Grand Marnier in the palate.
On a personal note one can through descriptive terms wax about the nose and palate of a Tawny Port which is a difficult job as Tawny is a sensory experience. Have enough Tawny Port over the years and you can nod your head. You’ll know it’s a Tawny the minute you taste it. Of course as a wine writer I am supposed to come with magic descriptive words which were so easy for me 7 years ago after my first massive Port attack in Portugal. This week trying Tawny Ports extensively supplied to me through various Toronto agents to celebrate virtual Port Wine Day I struggle to break down such a complicated product into ABC’s. I am either maturing in my appreciation of Tawny Port or in a bad tailspin. I’ll close and say a damn fine Tawny!
If there are Port re-education camps in Porto perhaps they’ll haul me away there for another Port attack!
What I will say I will be ordering a mincemeat pie for Christmas and this Tawny will be at my side. A mincemeat pie is a sort of boozed up raisin pie. Does this make sense?
I recall visiting Taylor’s Quinta Vargellas in 2013 on a media tour with yours truly and a columnist from The Globe and Mail. We had an extensive tasting, a fantastic dinner and after dinner everyone off duty we had some “very special Ports” in front of a blazing fireplace and after trying our hand at poetry we headed off to bed. Vargellas may be the most famous vineyard in the world and staying at the Quinta that night might have been the finest of my life. It was magical somewhat akin to Port. I recall disembarking at the train station in the setting November sun and walking along the railroad tracks towards the Quinta just like it was yesterday. You don’t develop appreciation and true love of Port as a writer you can gain by attending tutored tastings in Toronto. You have to go to the heart and soul of the Douro and you’ll be a happy aficionado for eternity.
(Taylor Fladgate 20 Year Old Tawny Port $69.95, Liquor Control Board of Ontario # 14907, 750 mL, 20%, Robert K. Stephen A Little Birdie Told Me So Rating 92/100) .