Wood Aged Port



   
 

Within wood aged Ports it is possible to distinguish three broad styles.
 
Firstly, there are the fruity and full bodied Ports which include Ruby, Reserve Rubies (like Croft Distinction), Vintage Character and Late Bottled Vintage. These wines generally age for no more than five or six years in large oak vats, where contact with the wood is relatively limited. As a result they retain their deep red colour and their fruitiness, vigour and intensity. They are the perfect choice for the classic marriage of Port and cheese or for drinking at the end of a meal. 
 
Large oak vats range in size from 20,000 litres to 90,000 litres 
 
Next there are the mellow, complex Ports which have had the benefit of greater contact with the wood, being aged in small oak casks and for longer periods. These include Tawny Ports, including the sublime aged Tawnies such as Croft’s 10 and 20 Year Old. They also include a small category called ‘Colheita’, which is a Tawny bearing a harvest date. The characteristic of Tawny Port is its seductive amber hue and its opulent nutty, spicy, plum-pudding flavour. Tawny ports make superb dessert wines, particularly delicious with a crème brûlée or a plate of figs. Tawnies are an excellent choice for Summer drinking as they can be served slightly cool.
 
Lastly there are the white ports. These are usually aged in cask or vat for a relatively short time so that they develop mellowness and complexity but keep their fruity freshness. There are sweeter and drier styles, the dry white ports making a perfect aperitif served cool with a plate of olives or roasted almonds.
 
A bottle of wood aged Port requires no special handling but care should be taken to store it upright in a dark, cool place, if possible away from direct light. There is no need to decant a wood aged Port. It will remain in good condition for six weeks or more after the bottle has been uncorked for the first time.