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Wine and Chocolate: Tawny Port

Bruce Sanderson
Posted: November 11, 2002

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Sandeman Tawny Port 20 Year Old
91 Points, $42
Technique: Fortified

The house of Sandeman, a merchant business specializing in Port and Sherry, was founded in 1790 in London. The company did not own any vineyards in Portugal's Douro Valley until recently (when it purchased the Quinta do Vau in the Cimo Corgo region), instead working principally with about 500 grapegrowers. This tawny Port represents field blends including leading Port grapes, Touriga Nacional and Touriga Francesa.

Traditionally, Portuguese vineyards were planted with a mix of grape varieties. These grapes are harvested, fermented and aged together rather than separately. The wines are then matured in barrels called pipes, which hold about 145 gallons, in the house's aging facilities at Vila Nova de Gaia. After roughly 20 to 23 years, barrels are selected for the final blend according to the Sandeman house style, which aims for balance, elegance and complexity -- hallmarks of this tawny. Its delicate, silky texture acts as a perfect foil for the honey and almond flavors. A hint of orange adds complexity and brightness, resulting in a sumptuous drink.

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