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Churchill Aperitif white port
In a nutshell: A traditional style of white port filled with flavours of oranges, nuts and muscovado sugar, from one of the newest houses in the Douro Valley – Churchill’s.
Harvey Nichols (£19)
Churchill’s is one of the youngest houses in the port region, but the founding family’s history in Portugal goes back much farther. They also founded and previously owned Graham’s before it was sold to the Symington family in 1970.
When two family members, Johnny and William Graham, decided to start a house of their own in the early 80s (the first new British port firm in over 50 years) they had to come up with a new name, so they used Johnny Graham’s wife’s name, Churchill (no relation to Winston).
They started out just buying in grapes, but in 1999 acquired some properties: Quinta da Gricha (which you can visit and stay in – well worth it) and Quinta do Rio.
The company makes a full range of ports of excellent quality. I liked the 2011 vintage so much that I bought a case to celebrate my daughter’s birth. I hope she lets me open a bottle when she turns 21. There are also some very good table wines made too.
Churchill’s might be a young firm, in port terms, but as you might expect from a family with all that history, they do things traditionally as with their Aperitif white port.
White port is made, like red port, by adding brandy to stop fermentation and preserve sugar, though some brands like Taylor’s Chip Dry are considerably drier than classic port. Traditionally, white port was aged in wood with some oxygen contact like a tawny. In fact, some houses like Kopke and Niepoort specialise in very long-aged white ports.
Churchill’s white port has that distinctive nutty taste from being aged in wood, but it’s not short of fruit either. It smells like orange peel dipped in muscovado sugar, with more oranges and tangerines on the palate and nutty notes on the finish.
A delicious wine, that’s happy as an aperitif, digestif or mixed in cocktails. Try it with tonic water or instead of Noilly Prat in a Martini.
Harvey Nichols (£19)
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