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Graham’s Blend No 5 white port
In a nutshell: A crisp, contemporary take on white port that, from its presentation to its aromatic flavour, is aimed squarely at the gin drinker.
Like Sandeman, Graham’s is of Scottish origin. The family was originally a Glasgow textile firm, when textiles were among the goods that the British used to trade for port, along with bacalhau (salt cod).
It was in family hands until the 1970s (the Graham family later opened a new house in the 1980s named Churchill’s) when it was bought by the Symingtons, who also now own Dow’s, Warre’s and Cockburn’s, as well as producing many good quality supermarket ports.
Graham’s makes everything from great vintage wines to the bestselling 6 Grapes, along with excellent tawny ports – including a very special 90-year-old one, created to celebrate the Queen’s birthday in 2016.
In the city of Porto itself, the most popular drink is either a tawny served chilled or white port mixed with tonic water, often with orange peel or sprigs of rosemary, similar to the way the Spanish serve their G&T’s. Now that the city has become a major tourist attraction, many visitors have picked up a taste for it and want to drink it at home, too.
Traditionally, white port was oak-aged and usually tastes slightly woody and oxidised. Don’t get me wrong, I love this style (and think Churchill’s does it best), but Graham’s has done something different here by concentrating solely on two grapes – Malvasia Fina and Moscatel Gallega. They are cold-fermented to accentuate their aromatic qualities before the brandy is added to stop fermentation, leaving the wine sweet. It’s then sold unaged, so that the fruit is to the fore.
The result is so intensely fruity and floral that it tastes like it has been flavoured like a gin. All in all a very clever, delicious and innovative wine that could likely induct people, who don’t necessarily think of themselves as port drinkers, into the club.
It’s very versatile, working in a long drink with tonic, or (my preference) fizzy water, or on its own with fruit puddings like you might enjoy a Muscat Beaume de Venise.
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