A Ladder of Aged Tawnies

I had the very real pleasure of lining up a series of aged tawnies from Reserve up to Twenty Years Old. The flight included one of the great names of Tawny Port, namely Ramos Pinto, as well as recently launched single quinta wines, one with a hidden pedigree for fine tawny. The wines are ordered by age and listed below in the order they were tasted (and retasted, and retasted, and retasted…)

Quevedo, Special Reserve Tawny ***/****
From new kid on the block Oscar Quevedo, I was really much more impressed with his Tawnies than his Vintage Ports (see earlier post). This wine has a lovely true tawny hue with gentle creamy tawny character retaining sweet, succulent fruit and fine acidity with a lovely figgy finish. The term ‘Reserve’ suggests this wine averages between 7 and ten years. 16.5
 
Quevedo, Ten Year Old Tawny ****
The Quevedo family cultivate 100 ha of vineyards across six properties in the Douro valley in the Cima Corgo and the Douro Superior.  Resplendent amber-tawny appearance, similarly soft, creamy (Galaxy chocolate) and slightly flattering in style, a touch woody both on the nose and palate but with a lovely toasted, savoury character on a fine, fresh, elegant finish.  17  

Quinta Pedra Alta Ten Year Old Tawny  ***/****  
The clue is in the name: this quinta is located high in the Pinhão valley with vineyards extending to 500 m above sea level. It is the only estate to have three of the feitoria stones which were used to demarcate the best vineyards back in the mid eighteenth century. Packaged in a modern see-through bottle which shows off the pale amber-tawny colour, this wine has a rich heady quality and flattering cherry sweetness. 16.5

Ramos Pinto Quinta da Ervamoira Ten Year Old Tawny ****/*****
This a single quinta Tawny from an estate located in the Douro Superior:  lovely brick red tawny robe, delicate with a youthful spike to the nose, soft suave and perfectly balanced on the palate with just a dusting of spicy tannin, long and lithe, this is Ten Year Old as it should be.  18.5   

Quinta da Côrte Ten Year Old Tawny ****
This is a magnificent estate well located in the lower Torto valley and now belongs to a Frenchman, Philippe Austruy. Côrte used to be the secret source of Delaforce tawnies when His Eminence’s Choice was one of the best-known brands of aged tawny. Burnished brick red to tawny on the rim; soft and sublime both on the nose and palate, well developed, gentle creamy tawny, sumptuous and on the sweet side, retaining a touch of grip. Lovely wine. 17.5

Quevedo Colheita 2004 ***
The most recent from a range of colheitas that goes back to 1974: lovely mature tawny colour; a touch woody and rustic on the nose, redolent of graphite but rich and rather lovely on the palate with a soft, sweet, heady finish.   15.5

Quinta do Noval 2005 Colheita *****

This is the first bottling of a wine, foot trodden in lagar, from grapes picked after a hot dry summer: lovely brick red centre turning orange-amber on the rim; gentle yet complex aromas combining savoury nuttiness with suave fruit; soft and gloriously silky with just a dusting of tannic spice still evident mid-palate, some exotic richness perfectly offset by refined freshness and verve on a long, long finish. Noval have retained stock this wine which will continue to age in barrel for future bottlings when they feel the time is right. 19

Quinta da Côrte Twenty Year Old Tawny ****
I was fortunate to taste through a range of Côrte’s tawnies from pipe, many years ago with the late John Burnett. This was when the estate belonged to Pacheco & Irmãos and supplied Delaforce. Kept in the Douro (though in those days there was no such thing as aircon.), these wines were all in remarkable condition. This wine has a lovely pale amber-tawny colour with a touch of orange too; mature, savoury and a touch leathery on the nose, showing great complexity with soft, smooth, suave fruit, a touch of Douro rusticity and great texture and presence all the way through to the finish which goes on and on. Truly lovely wine. 18                  

Ramos Pinto, Quinta do Bom Retiro 20 Year Old Tawny  *****
As it happens, Quinta do Bom Retiro is next door to Quinta da Côrte in the Torto valley. This is Ramos Pinto’s flagship estate. Resplendent with its pale amber-tawny hue and just a glint of orange; appetising savoury aromas of lightly toasted almonds and slightly caramelised, mellifluous fruit; fine and delicate, super-suave with that beautifully melded savoury-sweet fruit (the hallmark of great tawny) and an incredibly long, fresh, elegant finish. Finely and perfectly poised. 19.5  

Scoring

19 - 20 An outstanding wine (*****)

17 – 18 An excellent wine in its class, highly recommended (****)

15 - 16 A good wine, with much to recommend it (***)

13 - 14 An enjoyable but simple, straightforward wine (**)

10 – 12 A very ordinary wine without faults but with no great merit (*)

8 - 10 Disagreeable (no stars)

Below 8 Faulty