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Tesco Finest 10-year-old tawny port
In a nutshell: Mature, nutty cask-aged port that offers excellent value for money.
Tasting my way through supermarket ports, I was knocked out by the quality and scandalised by how cheap some of them are. How could such good wines be offered for so little?
It's a reflection that port, as a business, still has some structural problems – too much wine and too little demand at the bottom end. Thankfully, demand at the top end is strong and getting stronger, and houses are diversifying into tourism and table wines.
This tawny is produced for Tesco by the Symington group who make a lot of outrageously good supermarket port. The family-run firm are considered Johnny-come-latelys of the port business, as Andrew James Symington arrived in Porto as recently as 1882.
They now own some of the most famous names, including Dow’s, Warre’s and Graham’s, all of which are producing great wines. There are also various other Symingtons scattered throughout the international wine trade.
Tawny ports are blends of wines that are aged in wood where they are subject to controlled oxidation, like some sherries, which makes them lose colour and gain nutty flavours.
Over time, the fruit turns from the dark berries of young wine to strawberries and candied cherry. These are then usually sold with an average age statement.
This is a style that traditionally has been more popular with the Portuguese than the British but is now gaining more fans over here, and with a wine of this quality, it’s easy to see why.
A well-made, 10-year-old tawny like this has youthful red fruit, like cooked strawberry, balanced with older nutty notes. It is very sweet but with a freshening acidity. I often give tawnies to people who find vintage and ruby ports too heavy. Tawnies don’t need decanting and an open bottle will last for months without deteriorating.
Whereas vintage ports go with stilton, the tawnies love salty mature hard cheeses like comté and cheddar. They’re also great with Crêpes Suzettes or any boozy, sweet pudding. Serve slightly chilled.
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