Port wine (also known as Vinho do Porto, Porto, and usually simply port) is a Portuguese fortified wine produced exclusively in the Douro Valley in the northern provinces of Portugal. It is typically a sweet, red wine, often served as a dessert wine though it also comes in dry, semi-dry, and white varieties. The wine produced is then fortified by the addition of a neutral grape spirit known as aguardente in order to stop the fermentation, leaving residual sugar in the wine, and to boost the alcohol content. The fortification spirit is sometimes referred to as brandy but it bears little resemblance to commercial brandies. The wine is then stored and aged, in barrels stored in a cave, before being bottled. Over a hundred varieties of grapes are sanctioned for port production, although only five (Tinta Barroca, Tinta Cão, Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo), Touriga Francesa, and Touriga Nacional) are widely cultivated and used. Touriga Nacional is widely considered the most desirable port grape but the difficulty in growing it and the small yields cause Touriga Francesa to be the most widely planted grape. White ports are produced the same way as red ports, except that they use white grapes—Donzelinho Branco, Esgana-Cão, Folgasão, Gouveio, Malvasia Fina, Rabigato and Viosinho.
- Item #: i_373826Bottle Size: 750mlWine Advocate: 96ROBERT PARKER 96 POINTS - "The massive 1994 is unquestionably the finest Dow I have tasted since the 1977. This opaque purple-colored wine is not as developed or flamboyant as Fonseca, but it is super-concentrated and multi-layered, with huge masses of fruit and some tannin in the finish. This is a slightly drier style than Fonseca or Graham's, but it appears to be a classic, majestic, enormously constituted 1994 that should age effortlessly for three decades or more. It is one of the stars of the vintage. Anticipated maturity: 2004-2030."
As all savvy Port aficionados know, ’94 ranks as one of the very best Port years of the 20th Century. When this Dow was first released in October of 1996 Robert Parker gave it 96 Points.
- Item #: i_325560Bottle Size: 750MLWine Advocate: 92ANTONIO GALLONI 93 POINTS-The 1985 Dow’s Vintage Port has a gorgeous, very pure bouquet with mulberry, leather, terracotta tiles on a warm day, and hints of clove all beautifully defined. The palate is very well balanced with supple tannin, lightly spiced on the entry, touches of liquorice and black pepper, curry powder and ginger with a very harmonious and long finish. This may well be the pick of the 1985 declarations and appears to have edged past the Taylor Fladgate 1985 in recent years. Tasted at the "Big Fortified Tasting" in London."
ROBERT PARKER'S WINE ADVOCATE 92 POINTS - " A fine, classic Dow nose with notes of cloves, raisin and a touch of fig. Not incredibly complex but refined and inviting. The palate is sweet and fleshy, again cloves, red-berried fruit, a touch of spice and dates towards the finish. Moderate weight, certainly not an imposing, alcoholic Dow, but refined with great elegance and refinement. Drink now-2035."
One the great values from this outstanding vintage. Chris Kissack writes - "A great color, and a gentle nose of maturity. An elegantly composed palate although it still shows quite a little extract, tannin and even a little spirit. Nevertheless it has a very admirable structure, and a supple style that makes it easy to drink now if one appreciates impact and substance in Port. But it should be good for a few years yet, and will evolve but not change much in terms of the pleasure it gives I think. 18+/20 Points. -November 2007. Sourced straight from the producer."
- Item #: i_328070Bottle Size: 750MLWine Spectator: 95WINE SPECTATOR 93 POINTS - "A hard, take-no-prisoners Port, extremely powerful and still closed when last tasted. Deep inky color, with concentrated blackberry and raisin aromas, full-bodied, with massive raisin flavors, a superb backbone and a very long finish."
- Item #: i_327920Bottle Size: 1.5LWine Advocate: 93WINE ADVOCATE 93 POINTS - " Somewhat of a lightweight for Fonseca, but undeniably charming, this dark ruby/purple-colored wine offers a floral, exotic, flamboyant bouquet, a sweet, fleshy style, but not a great deal of weight or massiveness. Heady alcohol, sweet tannin, and a velvety texture make for a gorgeous finish. While I would have preferred to have seen more weight, structure, and intensity, this is an outstanding, albeit lighter than normal Fonseca. Anticipated maturity: now-2020."
STEPHEN TANZER'S INTERNATIONAL WINE CELLAR 93 POINTS - " Full saturated ruby. Inky, brooding aromas of syrupy black fruits and violet. Dense, thick and tactile, with superb depth of flavor and compelling juicy sweetness. Finishes with powerful tannins and superb grip. Not as flamboyantly aromatic as this wine normally is in its youth, but structured for long, slow development in bottle."
- Item #: i_331470Bottle Size: 750MLWine Advocate: 96WINE ADVOCATE 96 POINTS- "Still very dark and chewy with interesting notes of violets now showing in its deep bouquet. Plenty of development certainly lies ahead. Here is Robert Parker's take on this Titian from 1996: In a Port tasting, tasting Graham's is almost like tasting a big, rich, succulent Merlot after a group of blockbuster, tannic Cabernets. Sweeter and more obvious than many Ports, the opaque purple-colored 1994 is fruity, powerful, and rich, with an addictive hedonistic quality. It will be ready to drink in 8-10 years and keep for up to 30. As always, this is a showy, flamboyant Port that has the advantage of being slightly sweeter than other 1994s. A great Graham's."
- Item #: i_376983Bottle Size: 750MLWine Spectator: 90JAMES SUCKLING 99 POINTS - "Extremely complex aromas that show the classic Graham character of black-fruit marmalade and burnt oranges. Follows through to a full body with great grip at the finish. Lightly sweet. Chewy and powerful. Such a focus at the end."
WINE ADVOCATE 95 POINTS-"The 2016 Vintage Port is a blend of 37% Touriga Nacional, 42% Touriga Franca and various others. It comes in with 115 grams of residual sugar. A bit bigger than Dow's this year, this is more intense as well. The better wine of these two benchmarks seems to be this Graham's. Tight on the finish, aromatic and very flavorful, this actually opens rather well and shows off its lovely fruit. The Dow's will be approachable a bit earlier, perhaps, and this may reward aging even more. As always, Graham's is wonderfully delicious. That's one hallmark of the house. I'm not sure this is a truly great Graham's, but at the moment, it is enticing, with plenty of potential for improvement. There were 6,325 cases produced, plus some bottles in other formats."
OTHER SCORES: WS 98 POINTS, WE 97 POINTS & DECANTER 98 POINTS
- Item #: i_379357Bottle Size: 750MLWine Spectator: 90JAMES SUCKLING 97 POINTS-"Wow! Amazing aromas of crushed blackberry and blueberry, stems and rose petal. Entrancing. Full-bodied, very tight and powerful with ultra-fine tannins. Intense richness of crushed berries, chocolate, hazelnut and coffee. 5,250 cases. Try after 2026."
- Item #: i_331310Bottle Size: 750MLWine Advocate: 92Wine Spectator: 93WINE SPECTATOR 93 POINTS - " A superb achievement from a very underrated year. Deep dark ruby-purple, with rich floral and violet aromas, full-bodied, with masses of strawberry flavors, full tannins and a long finish."
WINE ADVOCATE 92 POINTS - "Graham is another great port house, producing one of the deepest-colored and sweetest styles of vintage port. Along with Taylor and Fonseca, Graham has probably been the most consistent producer of great port in the post- World War II era. Their tawnys are quite good rather than exceptional, but their vintage ports are truly sublime and sumptuous. The 1983, like most vintage ports, seems more forward than normal but has a great depth of very ripe, viscous, unctuous, plummy, tarry fruit and significant tannin in its long finish. It is black-purple in color. I doubt that it will be either as profound or as long-lived as the great 1977, but is is certainly one of the top two or three ports of this vintage, and better than the excellent 1980."
- Item #: i_375441Bottle Size: 750mlWWINE ADVOCATE 97 POINTS-The 2016 Vintage Port is a field blend, mostly Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinto Cão and Sousão, aged for 18 months in old wood. It comes in with 82 grams of residual sugar. This was in bottle for only about seven weeks when seen, but I made sure at least some of it had a lot of air. It looks super, with plenty of room to grow in the cellar. Christian Seely likes to say that this regular Noval and the Nacional are not better than one another, just different. In fact, I usually prefer Nacional, but in this vintage I make a case for equality and endorse that view. This was stunning from the first smell, promising concentration, intensity of fruit and great things to come. It had a 100-point nose that made me go "wow!" No wine I tasted had a better nose than this. Violets and blue fruits lead off, with a trace of eucalyptus. I tend to think Noval is a producer that always shows mid-palate finesse, but this seems pretty deep too. It is also intense. The tannins won't sear your mouth because the balance is impeccable. To be sure, it might close down, but it is surprisingly approachable now, notwithstanding that intensity. Rest assured that this lively young Porto still has all the materials to make old bones. Needless to say, "approachable" does not mean "ready." You need to toss this in the cellar for a decade, at least. Purists will say to double that or more. When the palate becomes as expressive as the nose—if it does—this will be entitled to an uptick. No pricing was set yet." - Mark Squires
- Item #: i_377444Bottle Size: 750MLWine Advocate: 90WINE ADVOCATE 90 POINTS-"An under-rated producer, Smith-Woodhouse has turned out a port with an impressively saturated dark ruby/purple color. This powerful port is moderately sweet, forward, rich, and full-bodied, with nicely integrated alcohol and tannin. While it is not one of the vintage's blockbusters, it should be ready to drink in 3-5 years and keep for 15-20.(10/96)"
- Item #: i_364830Bottle Size: 750MLWINE ADVOCATE 94 POINTS-"The NV 30 Year Old Tawny Port was bottled with a bar top cork in 2014. It comes in at 125.8 grams per liter of residual sugar. It isn't that I dislike the 20s or even younger Tawnies, but this shows what you get by stepping up. (Granted, the price is quite a step up, too.) This has that wonderful concentration of flavor, the molasses, the touch of treacle and the extra complexity that you don't always get with young Tawnies. Its combination of power, concentration and complexity also means that it lingers endlessly on the finish. It's one of those wines you will be able to smell on anything it touches for much of the evening. That's worth the price of admission for me. This is wonderfully constructed with that long, intensely flavorful finish. As with most such, it can hold indefinitely barring cork failure, but the bar top cork means that it is not really expected to be aged. Dig in. Make sure not to drink them too warm--60 degrees Fahrenheit or so works a lot better than 72 degrees Fahrenheit. (12/15)."
- Item #: i_364970Bottle Size: 750MLWine Spectator: 93WINE SPECTATOR 93 POINTS - "Medium ruby. Beautiful aromas of flowers and fresh plum, with hints of stems. Full-bodied and medium-sweet, with gorgeous silky tannins and a long, long finish. This is just starting to come around and offers wonderful flavors. Long life ahead, but ready to try. '77/'85/'97 blind Port retrospective. Drink now." .
- Item #: i_379278Bottle Size: 750MLJAMES SUCKLING 99 POINTS-"Complex aromas of tar, wet earth, dark berry and flowers follow through to a full body, medium sweet and amazing compacted concentration. Vertical and so deep. It goes on for minutes. Truly excellent. Better after 2027."