We love Port. By far the largest percentage of wines in our cellar is Port, we tend to visit the Portuguese Douro region (where the Port grapes are grown) at least once a year and it's the wine that gives us the most drinking pleasure. Yet, until now we haven't written one word about Port on this blog. How is that possible? Well, frankly there isn't much to write about when it comes to Oman and Port.
It makes us sad to look at the selection of Port wines. OUA stocks the Ports of Cockburn, the producer of the world's best selling port Cockburn Special Reserve. We never liked this Port, but heard they improved the blend, so we will give it another try soon. African & Eastern is even worse. Although they are blessed to have Taylor's Port in their portfolio, they hardly ever seem to have anything in stock. A while ago we found some bottles of Taylor's Late Bottled Vintage 2003, but they had clearly been leaking (perhaps due to heat or poor storage – if you ever see this, don't buy). Some weeks later we saw one good bottle, so bought it.
We understand that Port can be confusing for many people. We can explain the different types here, but that would take some space. Better have a look here if you need some extra information.
Taylor's is one of the world's best producers of Port. Their Vintage Port is highly praised, and the overall quality of the rest of the range isn't bad either. It is a pity therefore that their Late Bottled Vintage (LBV in short – a ruby type Port that is aged in barrel for 4-6 years) is a bit of a letdown. When it comes to LBV, there are two 'religions'. There are those that bottle the Port unfiltered after giving it the minimal time in barrel. This results in a powerful, young Port that is well capable of ageing in bottle. It will throw sediment after some time in bottle. And there are those that believe LBV should be ready for consumption straight after bottling. To reach this, they age the port a bit longer in barrel (usually 5 to 6 years) and filter it before bottling. This is a smoother, more easily accessible type of LBV. It will not improve with bottle age. Taylor uses the latter method. The result is a Port that is often a bit bland, and lacking in character.
That said, the 2003 LBV is not a bad effort. 2003 was a powerhouse vintage. The hot, dry weather led to overconcentrated, jammy wines in many parts of Europe, but didn't do such harm in the Douro, where the vines are used to heat and draught. The wines from 2003 are powerful, full of ripe fruit and with lots of tannins. The 2003 LBV clearly profited from the quality of the vintage. It is fairly structured, with some good dark fruit flavours (cherry, blackberry and blueberry) and a hint of (milk) chocolate. Do drink this slightly cooled (18ºC at most), otherwise the heat from the alcohol will show too much, and it will also display some distracting candied flavours.
Although we would love to see a better display of Port wines in the liqour stores, we don't mind drinking the Taylor's LBV 2003 from time to time. You could do better, but certainly worse as well.