Tawny Port is amongst the categories of dessert wines that I reach for most often. When they’re done right, the combination of flavor and quality in an often very reasonable price point is hard to resist. Throw in the general availability of a great number of standard bearer Tawny Ports and it's easy to see why a lot of folks look towards them for their after dinner wine needs. All Tawny Ports aren’t created equally of course so I find sampling them a fascinating exercise. Today I’m going to look at an example from long time Port House Sandeman. The Sandeman 20 Year of Tawny Port was aged in wooden casks. As the name indicates the average age of the wines blended is at least 20 years. The suggested retail price for this Port is $51.99
Fruitcake spice and stone fruit aromas lead the nose of this 20 Year Tawny Port. Apricot and yellow cling peach flavors are apparent on the palate along with honey and various nut characteristics. The finish of this wine is long and lingering with tea notes leading the charge; they’re joined by vanilla and continuing spice. This Sandeman Port is delicious on its own and many may consider this to be dessert in and of itself. I sampled it that way and personally I most often drink Tawny Port on its own. However I tasted it with sweet cranberry-walnut bread topped with a triple crème cheese and found that to be an outstanding match as well.
Two things stood out to me most about this Port. First is the mid-palate of the wine which is simultaneously rich and layered with flavors but yet gentle and even keeled. The finish is also impressive in length. Just when you think it’s going to end, the flavors linger a bit longer. This Sandeman Tawny Port is an excellent entry in the 20 Year category. In its class it offers excellent quality and solid value.