Just Chillin’ with Port

In the middle of summer the last thing I would want to drink is Port. Or so I thought until the most recent tasting put on by Bluebird wine shop. Penny, the manager, has done a great job of arranging interesting and plentiful wine tastings this summer.

The trick in the summer is chillin’, not only you but the wine as well. Port may have a stuffy, stodgy reputation but it was a fabulous to drink once it’d been cooled down a bit. Henry Shotten, the winemaker was in attendance and he recommended slightly chilled port, not just for Tawney’s but Vintage Port as well. Purists are probably frothing at the mouth at the idea of slightly chilled Port but it does work. For the complete history of Port click here, fascinating and quite illustrious but I’d rather talk about what I drank.

The Warres Otima 10 year old Tawny was served up nicely chilled. The Otima bottle and packaging was redesigned in 1999 to give it a more contemporary feel and appeal to younger consumers. It has proven to be very successful going from sales of 2000 cases in 1999 to over 28,0oo cases in 2007.
The tawny style of port is not as heavy as vintage port, lighter in colour and feel. The wine is aged in small oak barrels allowing for controlled oxidation. The ports used in the blend are a minimum of 10 years old but can be older. Tawny is released ready to drink, no need to lay it down or wait decades to drink. As a matter of fact, a stopper is used instead of cork because the wine is not made to be laid down.

The Otima was tawny pale amber with a reddish tinge and flecks of dark brown on the edges. Despite the fact that it was chilled, aromas of candied nuts, nutty orange peel and dried fruits wafted up and I felt like diving right into the glass. It had a delicate, honeyed palate with notes of hazelnut on the finish. It was light and fruity, not heavy or sticky sweet. A lovely alternative aperitif for a hot summer’s day.

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