Expensive wine 106: Graham’s 20-year-Tawny Port NV

Graham’s 20-year-Tawny PortGraham’s 20-year-Tawny port is subtle, sophisticated, and a reminder how great a great port can be

Port remains one of the great mysteries of wine – usually very expensive and bought by a very limited audience, and mostly unknown to almost everyone else. Which is a shame, because well made port should please almost anyone. Great ports, like the Graham’s 20 year-old Tawny, are even more appealing.

The Graham’s 20-year-Tawny ($65, sample, 20%) is a step above even a lot of top-notch port – incredibly subtle and sophisticated, with layers of flavor that go well past the usual caramel and nuttiness. There is almost a tea-like flavor, as well as hint of baking spices and a kind of toffee instead of the caramel. And, despite the high alcohol and residual sugar, it’s not even especially sweet or especially hot. That points to quality winemaking, not always easy to do given the complexity of port.

In this, it shows how futile it is to cut costs in an attempt to make a mass market port, several of which I’ve tasted with regret over the past couple of years. It’s like the difference between cheese food slices and aged cheddar cheese; what’s the point?

Highly recommended. And the good news, even at this price, is that one small glass of the Graham’s 20-year-Tawny Port is usually sufficient. So the bottle will last three to four times as long as a table wine.

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