National Port Wine Day that honors the Douro Region — the first demarcated and regulated appellation in the world, was celebrated on September 10th. It commemorates the establishment of this appellation on September 10th, 1756. With 266 years of history, Douro has been classified as a World Heritage site by UNESCO. Port wine from the Douro is a taste of time and art, and I’m celebrating National Port Wine Day with a handy tasting kit containing a selection of both red and white Port wines from Kopke Port Wine, the oldest Port wine house in the world.
As Texas’s own wine region develops, Texans are developing a greater appreciation for Portugal as a wine producing region. Firstly, it is known for its historical Port-style wines. More recently, Texans are increasing familiar with many of its red grapes originally used in Port wines, but now also grow here and used in making dark inky table wines.
First a bit of background and then to the tasting.
Kopke Colheita (pronounced kohl-YAY-tah) Tawny and White Ports that are made from a single harvest, then aged in barrels for as long as possible and only bottled upon demand. The amber color of Kopke port wine shows the art of aging. On the nose, it shows appealing aromas of dried fruit, caramels, and a hint of vanilla, giving the wine a unique and distinct style. The 2022 short list includes Kopke 10, 20, 30, and 40-Year-Olds and Colheita from the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s.
My tasting selections and my notes for this event were:
Kopke White Colheita, 2003, Porto – Amber color with a rich display of dried fruit, cherries and molasses.
Kopke 20-years Old White, Porto – Amber color that engages with dried fruit, fig, toasted walnut.
Kopke Tawny Colheita, 2012, Porto – Red-hued color, showing toasted almond and pepper spice on the finish.
Kopke 10-years Old Tawny, Porto – Red-hued color, showing toasted almond and pepper spice on the finish.
Kopke Tawny Colheita, 2002, Porto – Orange-hued color, yielding dried fruit and hints of wood and honey with soft elegant finish.
Kopke 20-years Old Tawny, Porto – Orange-hued color, engages with dried fruit, spice and notes of fine wood finishing long and velvety.
Just in case you are new to Port wines, Port is a Portuguese sweet fortified wine that’s often made with Iberian red grapes like Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional, Tinta Barroca, Tinto Cão, and Tinta Roriz (also known as Tempranillo). The wine is fortified by adding a distilled spirit, such as brandy, that stops fermentation and stabilizes the wine from spoilage.
Tawny Port is sweet, complex, and brownish in color from barrel-aging in wooden casks. Aged tawnies are rich yet soft wines usually aged from 10 to 40 years. As a counterpoint, White Port is a style made from the juice of white grapes such as Gouveio, Malvasia Fina, Moscatel Galego, Rabigato, and Viosinho indigenous to the Iberian peninsula. It offers bright flavors of candied apple and stone fruits with a nutty finish.
Stilton blue cheese, Roquefort, or Gorgonzola pair well with the rich, silky textures of a Vintage Port as do preparations made with dark chocolate, figs, and walnuts or almonds. All can come together nicely during the year-end holiday season.
Port wine is also made for celebrating. It could the celebration of a wonderful holiday meal with friends and family or a birthday celebration for an adult child that’s made extra special if it includes a Port wine from his or her birth year. Other than that, Port wine is just so darn good being sipped watching a fire in the fireplace or outside around a fire ring – the fire warms you from the outside while the Port wine warms you from the inside.