What are the differences between Vintage & Tawny Ports?

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A word about Ports. This includes Vintage, Non Vintage (NV) Vintage Tawny, Ruby, Commemorative, Liqueur
etc. We (the sweet toothed amongst us) are blessed that Australia makes an
outstanding range of fortified dessert wines. As well as the above there
are also Tokays, Muscats, Sherries, Madeiras, Marsalas, Late Picked,
Stickies..... the list goes on.

Australian Vintage Ports tend to be heavier than the Portugese Ports. They can also last an
incredible amount of time - some will evolve and develop over a period of fifty
years! Tawny Ports are blended Ports (Old &New wine and then aged in Wooden
(usually Oak) Barrels and casks from 5 to up to 100 years.

Vintage Ports are made from the wine of one particular year. They usually spend 12-18
months in Wood and then are left to develop in the bottle. 20 plus years is
quite normal. Colour starts off Purplish, then becomes dark red – losing the
Violet colour.

Tawny Ports are ready to drink when bottled as most of the maturation has already
taken place in the 5-100 year period! They are often blends of several years.
Colour can range considerably but usually is darker and browner (Tawny) than
Vintage Port.

Ruby Ports are more of a medium Port and maturation will add very little to its
“fresh” taste. Colour is as it’s name suggests – Ruby Red.

Non Vintage (NV) Ports can be a mixture of all sorts, including Tawny. Some of these
are remarkably good - the Rovalley Cobweb Port is a good example of this. I
opened one earlier this year and it was marvellous -  better than a lot of $75+
Vintage Ports I have tried over the last few years. Bottle age doesn't always
improve a wine or port but in some cases it can change it for the better.

All of these types of Ports are becoming increasingly sought after. They look good, the
dates or labels may have a special significance and more importantly, most are
very drinkable and their value is increasing significantly as the
supply dwindles.We have tasted many, many of these and very generally
their overall sweetness, complexity and differences combined with
affordability have made for some memorable times. Enjoy!


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