Ruby & Tawny Ports from Douro Master, Dirk Niepoort

Ruby & Tawny Ports from Douro Master, Dirk Niepoort

Port is for life, not just for Christmas,’ writes Neal Martin. In a similar trend to the growing appreciation for small-batch, hand-crafted spirits such as vermouth, sherry, rum and gin, Port is recapturing the hearts and palates of the world. The number of fortified wines trading on Liv-ex has risen 720% in the past decade!

The Douro Valley in Portugal is the birthplace of Port. It's one of the world’s most historic wine regions – demarcated in 1756, almost 100 years before the famous Bordeaux classification. Whilst their Douro table wines have been making headlines recently, Niepoort Vinhos, established in 1842, have been producing phenomenal Port for over a century. From only R110 for 375mls and R199 for 750mls, their Ruby & Tawny Ports are excellent ‘starter-Ports’ in understanding this fascinating category and keeping you warm this winter.

Ruby Port is young and vibrant with dark red fruits – perfect as a standalone dessert or with soft cheeses. It’s the most widely produced Port style and is aged in cask for three years.

Tawny Port is aged for longer, developing from brick red to a characteristic tawny colour. Balance is key here – it has delicate aromas of nuts and dried fruits and incredible freshness on the palate. It makes for an amazing aperitif, served before dinner and slightly chilled. It’s great with chocolate desserts and cheeses like Cheddar, Gouda and Brie, or with red meat dishes.

Both wines are field blends from low-yielding, old vines in Cima Corgo, Douro. Hand-harvested and foot trodden in lagares*, the wines are then aged in large, wooden vats in their lodges** in Vila Nova de Gaia. Whilst more than 80 varieties are permitted in the production of Port and about 30 recommended, the Niepoort Tawny and Ruby Ports mostly feature Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz, Tinta Cão, Tinta Francisca, Tinta Amarela and Sousão.

See Niepoort’s full range of Ports here, including, vintage, Colheita, and white Port.

* Lagare: Portuguese term for large open vats or troughs, typically made of stone, in which wine grapes are crushed by foot.
** Lodges: Where ageing takes place and thus the endpoint of the journey of Port wine down the river from the quintas (wine estates) of the upper Douro Valley.

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