Wine Talk

Snooth User: HolidayGolightly

Port on a budget?

Posted by HolidayGolightly, Sep 28, 2008.

As far as I'm concerned, there is no better way to end the day than reading a good book while sipping a glass of good port. Here's the challenge: port's not cheap. The very best port I've had was a Taylor Fladgate 20 Year Old Tawny Port. I loved its complexity, but at nearly $50 a bottle, that's an occasional indulgence at best. I tried some Fonseca Bin 27 the other night, but found it kind of boring. What can I drink that will be kinder to my pocketbook while still supplying the satisfying complexity I love in a glass of port?

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Reply by Gregory Dal Piaz, Sep 28, 2008.

Love your name Holiday!

One of the nice things about port is that these Tawnies are actually blends that attempt to consistently reproduce the character of a 20 year old wine . You have a few options worth pursuing.

The Bin 27 is a Vintage Character port ans as such is more akin to a Ruby Port with their brighter fruit. You seem to appreciate a more oxidized, nuttier style pf port. Unfortunately I'm with you in thinking that the Taylor 20 year old is about as good as it gets in this style.

My first suggestion would be to try a less expensive tawny. The is a great value. the producer is small and not too well known but farms only the highest classification of vineyards and puts great product in the bottle.

Another alternative would be to try some Colheita ports. Colheitas are tawny ports from a single vintage. You can sort of dial in the style you like by choosing from the various vintages in the marketplace. Many of the smaller Portuguese houses specialize in these wines. As a possible alternative to the 20 year old tawny give the f try;

As a final suggestion you might want to try a few 10 year old tawnies. The is always a solid value.

I hope this gave you a few ideas! I'ld love to hear what you think of these suggestions or any other Porta you might come across.

Happy hunting!

Reply by oceank8, Sep 29, 2008.

This port from Franciscan is my favorite, but not easy to get your hands on (I had to call the winery directly).
I also enjoy the Justin Obtuse
And the Clairborne and Churchill isn't as good but it is a decent, inexpensive choice

All of these may be more ruby than you enjoy. We drink a lot of port and have the same concern about price.

Reply by HolidayGolightly, Sep 29, 2008.

Wow! This is a great list of suggestions. Now I feel better prepared to consider the selections available at my local bottle shop (which, sadly, are not extensive). I'll report back on what I try!

Reply by Pymonte, Sep 30, 2008.

Another one to add...

Just finished a delicious Australian port from RL Buller and Son. 92 points from Wine Spectator and under 15 per bottle. Highly, highly recommended.

Reply by Gregory Dal Piaz, Sep 30, 2008.

Great call Pymonte. Australia is justly famous for their tawny styled stickies! And the usually as priced very attractively. In addition to Buller, produces with great products include Yalumba, Campbells, and perhaps most famous of all is Chambers. The is probably one of the best deals in Port styled wines from Australia. Definitely worth seeking some of these out. Thanks Pymonte!

Reply by Philip James, Sep 30, 2008.

Holiday - I love port, but rarely spend $50 on it. I usually pick up a bottle of the cask aged stuff for about $15 as some of the people above suggested. The big advantage of a cask aged port is its already been exposed to oxygen (the wood is porous) and so it will keep for 2 weeks to a month or so, versus a bottle aged port (LBV, vintage etc) which hasn't seen any oxygen during its aging, and so is much more susceptible to oxidizing and as a result only keeps for up to a week.

And yeah, with me its port on its own, or with cheese, or maybe with a cigar (rarely but possible), or with a good book...

Reply by Mark Angelillo, Sep 30, 2008.

Little to add port-wise, but I do like the picture you paint of a book and a glass of the stuff. Sounds even more welcoming with autumn around the bend here.

Reply by oceank8, Sep 30, 2008.

being the female that I am, I will add a bath along with the port and book- one of my favorite past times!

Reply by HolidayGolightly, Sep 30, 2008.

Thanks for the continuing recommendations! I'm looking forward to trying some of these out, but in the meantime, I'm enjoying an impulsively purchased bottle of sherry. I had no idea what it would be like and in fact, I mostly associated it with old British ladies. It was cheap though, and I noticed several varieties that had 90+ scores from Robert Parker, so I decided to try it out. On the whole, I really enjoyed it. It was -- not surprisingly -- not as good as vintage port, and I was a little worried by its cream soda smell. It didn't really taste like cream soda though, and it had a nice long finish that tasted of coffee and hazelnuts with a few faint notes of chocolate. I feel like most people who enjoy port would probably like this. It doesn't taste the same, but it is pleasing for the same reasons. I could still remember exactly how it tasted this morning, which I think is a sign of something special. It was pretty sweet though, so some people might prefer a different variety of sherry.

For reference, I tried Pedro Romero Full Cream. I picked it mostly because I was attracted to the word "full" on the label, which I hoped meant it would have a full-bodied and complex flavor. Like I said before, it was quite sweet. Since reading a little more about sherry, I think I will try a Pedro Ximenez or Oloroso variety next time. I paid $10 for my bottle and noticed several on the shelves for the same, or even less, that had received favorable reviews.

Reply by oceank8, Oct 1, 2008.

Sounds like a great find. I really enjoy cream sherries (although not as much as port). However, I don't think I've ever paid less than about $25 for a bottle. I'll have to keep my eyes open for this, thanks!

Reply by Gregory Dal Piaz, Oct 1, 2008.

If you're interested in exploring shery more I highly recommend the bottling by Lustau, a full range by one of the best producers. On the other hand I am partial to Alvear. While technically not Sherry, they come from Montilla as opposed to Jerez, they are essential the same thing with the only exception being that they use the Pedro Ximenez grape for all there wines while in Jezer it is generally only used for the great sweet sherries. See if you can track them down. The , a solera style wine that was begun in 1927, is incredibly intense stuff full of raisins, spice, and cocoa notes. Big and thick it is great over vanilla ice cream!

Reply by HolidayGolightly, Oct 2, 2008.

You are the second person to recommend that exact sherry to me. I'll keep my eyes open fo rit!

Reply by Pymonte, Oct 2, 2008.

The Pedro Ximenez 1927 is an absolutely beautiful sherry. Had it at Michel Richard Central in DC after a killer meal. For the price, it really can't be beat. Also there's Harvey's Bristol Cream and Savory and James, the former being the proverbial "old standby" and an excellent (and cheap!) "beginner's sherry."

Reply by WJoeTrojan, Oct 5, 2008.

This may be sacrilege because it is not a pure port, but there's not better bang for the buck than Justin Vineyard's Obtuse ( It has robust flavors of chocolate, raspberry, cherry and plum without being too sweet or too acidic.

Reply by HolidayGolightly, Oct 5, 2008.

That sounds delicious! I love anything that tastes of chocolate! I haven't seen that in any of my local wine shops, but I'll definitely keep an eye out for it.

Reply by oceank8, Oct 5, 2008.

Justin obtuse is what I mentioned up above, definitely not sacrilege, a great port! Probably difficult to find in local shops, I always get it in Paso Robles (where they are located).

Reply by Gregory Dal Piaz, Oct 6, 2008.

Hey WJoe, California makes some killer ports both from traditional grapes and some not so traditional! If you're looking for more selection from California a few must tries are,

The ports by Ficklin are arguable Californias greatest.
With a long histoy going back 70 or so years they have been a true leader in the California Port industry. They make a great tawny, their vintages bottlings are solid and their old vine Tinta is a great value.

St. Amant is a relative new comer to the California Port game with almost 30 years in the biz. They vie with Ficklin for best producer of the land: They've made some on-off bottlings over the years, their Spencer Port and 1981 vintage Port were breakthrough bottlings for them and I still stumble on a bottle here and there. Worth picking up if you ever see one!

Some other great port style wines include the ever-popular and compellingly named

the rich and powerful;

which obviously is made with Petit Sirah which in my opinion is one of Californias best and most promising alternatives to the Traditional Portuguese varieties,

And the

is a great value combining tradition and innovation producing a rich, uniquely Californian port!

Wow this has turned into a great thread with a littany of fine suggestions from around the world!

Thanks everybody!

Reply by Snoother 1890176, Jun 29, 2015.

I am no wine buff but some 30 years ago bought a 21 litre American Oak barrel from Yalumba .

full of tawny port. As it got quaffed I topped it up with Berri's cask Tawny.  Lovely result.

Reply by dmcker, Jun 30, 2015.

So you've been continually topping it for 3 decades? Any tasting notes you can share with us?  :-)

Reply by ncmathsadist, Jun 30, 2015.

Dow Late Harvest offers superior bang for the buck.  

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