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Wine Spectator: Tawny Port On The Rise

January 28, 2014

Tawny Ports, long less popular than their ruby cousins, are gaining new attention. Seeing potential in the category, top Port houses are producing high-quality, long-aged tawnies and marketing them to American and U.K. consumers.

Top-end rubies such as Vintage and Late Bottled Vintage Ports have always held the spotlight in markets like the U.S. and U.K., whereas tawnies were more popular in Portugal. But recently, some of the major houses started to look at tawnies differently and began investing. In December 2010, the Fladgate Partnership issued luxury offering Scion, a very old tawny Port (1855) found in a farmer’s lodge in the Douro Valley. It was the right time to catch everyone’s attention, and the fact that it was branded Taylor’s, widely known for impeccable quality in Vintage Ports, also helped. Fladgate made another important move toward quality tawnies when it recently acquired Wiese & Krohn and announced plans to use the old house’s stock of 1 million liters of fine aged tawny to release a Taylor’s Colheita—or single-vintage tawny—with 50 years of age every year.

The Symington Group has made a similar bet, amassing a good deal of old tawny in its cellars. CEO Paul Symington says the company’s stock totals 16,500 casks, or more than 9 million liters. That means plenty of raw materials to use in releases like Graham’s Single Harvest Tawny 1961, which was followed by siblings 1969, 1952 and 1982. Other brands such as Dow’s or Warre’s have followed this pattern.

“Tawnies have an enormous advantage over top rubies,” Symington says. “They allow unprepared consumption, since they don’t need lengthy upright standing or decanting. And the bottles can be kept for some weeks after opening.” For the full report in Wine Spectator, click here.

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