Warre’s Heritage Ruby

Heritage Ruby is Warre’s entry-level red Port. I attended a tasting lately where a lot of different products were presented and some cross-references were made. Arran finished in an ex-Amarone cask Whisky was matched with a Lenotti Amarone wine, but also an Edradour 10yo Port casked Whisky was matched with a Port. That Port was a Niepoort Ruby, yes a basic Port and it was so good, that it sold out completely that evening. Very fruity and extremely accessible and drinkable. So I thought, let’s have a look at another basic Ruby. Warre was my introduction to Port so I have some of those bottles lying around. A short trip to the cellars of Master Quill produced this (not the most current) bottle…

Warre's Heritage Ruby PortColor: Dark ruby-red with high viscosity.

Nose: Syrupy red Wine. Very fruity (but not as fruity as the Niepoort offering was), strawberry, blackberries and some blossoms as well, slightly perfumy. This is slightly darker (as an experience, as well as in color) but still very fruity. Jam, syrup. The added darkness comes from hints of soil and dry sunny earth. Small hint of petrol adds to the depth. Do I detect a tiny hint of coal smoke? Excellent nose.

Taste: Starts out with a very pleasant kind of sweetness, very restrained even when the whole is pretty syrupy and chewy. Not cloying. a very refined kind of sweetness, pure. Ahorn maybe. Next a balancing act with some lime-like acidity. The nose is fantastic and when you take a sip all is well too, The body itself is more on raisins and the sustained acidity, but not completely integrated. The acidity is maybe a wee bit too high and in the finish it all falls apart for a bit. Finish is also not very long.

I might have been a bit harsh on this one, for I still find it a very pleasant and drinkable Port. It has some faults towards the end, and for the money it is an excellent Port.

After a lot of the other types of Port like Vintages, Colheita’s, LBV’s and so on, I have to say that even an entry-level Port like this one or the Niepoort I tasted is still very good. You get a lot of quality from even a dirt cheap bottle like this or any other Ruby I guess, (or even Tawny, White or Pink Port). The quality assurance of the Port Institute makes sure that probably every bottle that goes out to the consumer meets a high set standard. Maybe we’ll know when I taste a no-name Port with the seal of the institute. ABV is 19%.

Points: 82

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Warre’s Colheita 1999 (2012)

Yes another Warre’s Colheita! This is an earlier one from 1999. Just like it’s predecessor, both 1999 and 2002 weren’t declared as Vintage Port years, so the wines that were meant to be vintages were used for L.B.V.’s and Colheita’s (amongst others). Although the wines weren’t good enough to declare a vintage, most probably the best the year had to offer ended up in these Colheita’s.

Warre Colheita 1999/2012Color: Much paler than the 2002 Colheita. Pale red and less viscous than the 2002 reviewed earlier.

Nose: Fresh and some wood. Powdery, nice complexity. The wood added a lot of nice notes in here, From a Whisky point of view this nose is better than the one from the 2002 Colheita. A fantastic and delicate balance. Dry and complex. A little soap in this one too. Licorice and elegant wood. Hints of wood polish and petrol. Hints of old furniture. Definitely a more interesting nose. Nutty.

Taste: More syrupy and sweeter than the nose promised, but still enough acidity, maybe even better balance and a little bit more depth to it. Seems also higher in ABV (although it is not) than the 2002 Colheita, the alcohol is more present in this one. Less sweet and again the complexity shows over time. Less lively and summery red fruit, but that doesn’t mean its less everything. This has a lot going for it too. It has added depth and is a different Colheita from the 2002 Colheita.

The 1999 Colheita is a more refined and delicate Colheita than the 2002, which is simpler, sweeter and fruitier in it presentation and is more Obvious. The difference between both is in the details for sure, so it probably was a good thing I had a few sessions comparing both to each other. It hardly makes any sense to score both differently and a difference is purely a matter of taste, but I will score this one point higher for its elegance.

Points: 85

Warre’s Colheita 2002 (2013)

A Colheita port is, like a Vintage Port, from a single vintage year ​​with the big difference that these ports are matured in oak barrels and filtered before bottling. Maturation takes place for at least eight years, but often longer, which makes it a Tawny Port. Usually the year of bottling is mentioned on the label, as is the vintage year. Because Colheita’s are filtered, not a lot of further ageing happens in the bottle, but still a lot of Colheita’s can be laid down for a while. No decanting necessary.

Warre Colheita 2002Color: Deep ruby-red which just started to fade a bit. High viscosity.

Nose: Sweet candy. Slightly winey, but foremost syrupy and very fruity. A little bit of soap. Lots of cherries and other sweet red fruits like ripe and succulent strawberry. After some breathing some spiciness and a slight hint of wood emerge. It smells young at first and fresh (acidic?). The whole seems to be crafted from the aromas of red wine, sweetness and some barrel ageing. The color is ruby-red too, so not your typical brownish tawny Port. Yes, it does smell very nice and perfumy though. I swear, when I nose this a lot I get some fresh mown grass and warm butter in there too. Easily accessible and definitely a quality wine. Do I detect a little bit of sulphur in the nose after a while in the glass?

Taste: It’s candy! Luckily not overly sweet and in the taste some nice acidity shines through. Good balance, but not very complex. Lacking depth at first. Again, not your typical tawny. It’s very nice, but it plays in another division. Very fruity and oozes summer. It sometime drinks like 5% ABV, but it still packs 20% ABV, which can be tasted in the finish. The finish itself is long, warming and very pleasant, and adds a lot to the complexity of the whole. It has the smallest hint of wood and fresh nuts, walnuts without the bitterness and hazelnuts. A little bit of tannins on the tongue. Very drinkable.

I can imagine drinking this slightly chilled, sitting outside in the sun. Very refreshing due to its toned down sweetness, nice acidity and accessible fruitiness. Although a little bit different, it did remind me of Kopke Special Reserve Tawny (150th Anniversary in Holland), although that one was even more summery, fresh and light, this Warre has more body and a heavier finish.

Points: 84

Kopke Special Reserve Tawny (150th Anniversary in Holland)

And finally the third and last of the trilogy of Kopke Ports I had open on my lectern (not counting the Moscatel that is). The Trilogy started off with Kopke 10 Years Old Port (Matured in Wood), continued with Kopke Christmas Port (Reserve Ruby) and now finishes off with this Kopke Special Reserve Tawny (150th Anniversary in Holland), which just like the 10yo matured in wood Port is a Tawny Port.

Tawny Port is named for its tanned color, which occurs when Port matures (oxidizes) in barrels for several years. Tawny Port mostly consists of Port wines from different vintages blended together. Cheaper examples are made by blending Ruby and White Ports, a method which surpasses the time the Port would need to age to become a Tawny port, and as we all know time = money. Having said that, even by blending Ruby and White Port together, nice results can be achieved. Blending isn’t necessarily a bad thing you know!

Kopke Special Reserve Tawny (150th Anniversary in Holland)There is a little back label on this bottle that explains why this Port is “special”: We specially selected this Kopke aged tawny Port to express the pleasant cooperation between Kopke and our eldest client, the Dutch importer J. van Ouwerkerk, founded in 1860. 1860 -2010, 150 years in the wine trade.

Color: Sparkling light red with a brown hue, actually more pinkish red than tawny. Long legs in my glass.

Nose: Smells extremely sweet, not very different from (the sweetness of) a PX Sherry sweetness. Very fruity, sugary and it has a lot of red wine notes. Smells fresh (young) and full on summer. A kind of happy Port. It also shows a little depth with a balanced woody and vanilla (ice-cream) note. Do I detect some sort of minty freshness? Nice and not too complicated Tawny.

Taste: Thick lemonade, due to its youthful fruityness. Small hints of chocolate and licorice. Not heavily sweet and the half-sweetness it has, is nicely counteracted by good acidity. Good balance but with a short finish though. A light Port.

A decent and fruity, happy Port. Actually not very Tawny If you ask me. I can imagine drinking this with ice cubes on a terrace in the summer. Especially since it has lemonade written all over it! Don’t analyze this one, just enjoy. This Tawny has an ABV of 20%.

Points: 84

Kopke Christmas (Reserve Ruby)

Kopke logoJust in time for Christmas, or should I say, just in time for last-minute Christmas shopping, another Kopke Port. The Tawny Kopke I reviewed last, turned out to be quite good, and doesn’t break the bank, so why not try another Kopke, but this time a Ruby. They call this a ‘Reserve’ to distinguish it from more generic rubies, and considering this is for a special, festive occasion, this (young) Ruby should be quite good also, and again this is a pretty inexpensive Kopke. Should you buy this for Christmas?

Kopke Christmas Port (Reserve Ruby)Color: Ruby red, with lost of purple near the edges of the glass.

Nose: Raisins and fresh, typical Ruby if you ask me. Very fresh (fresh air) young and lively, but also promising a lot of sweets. Thick, fat and buttery with heaps of raisins, something you would expect from a PX Sherry (the raisins). The whole does not smell like a PX at all. After all this, it smells more like a “red wine”. Cheesecake, a little bit of wood and some acidity and mustiness later on, so the smell does develop a lot in the glass.

Taste: More of the same, young and fresh, sweet and sour. Distant hint of bitter wood (walnuts), but the note is not dominant. It does fit the nose, but the taste is not very complex, and does seem a bit unbalanced. In this case the sweet and the sour don’t like each other very much. And the bitterness (not only walnuts, but also earwax), well, also not completely in harmony. The fruits in this Port are more of the half-sweet black and red summer fruits, and do I detect some tannins drying my tongue? Yes. This finish is half-long, but also a bit anonymous. This Port almost seems stopped dead in its shoes in its transition from a Red Wine to a Port. It’s still too much a Red Wine.

After my comments especially those for the taste, one might think It’s not a very good Port, but that wouldn’t be true. It’s a nice Ruby Port, not extremely special, but very drinkable. I suspect this to be very young. It’s alright, but if you like your ports a bit more special, a bit more festive, and a bit more “Tawny” I would recommend the Kopke 10yo matured in wood I reviewed last some more. For me Warre’s Warrior is also slightly better and especially a more balanced, somewhat sweeter, example. ABV for this Christmas Kopke is 19,5%.

Points: 82

Kopke 10 Years Old (Matured in Wood)

Kopke logoAfter Warre’s Warrior this is just the second review of Port on Master Quill, which is quite strange since I do love my Ports. Lots of them have passed on my lectern, and only one has been reviewed op ’till now. So it’s about time to do something about that. On my lectern are a few Ports that haven’t been reviewed yet, so keep an eye out for some more Port on these pages…

Kopke 10 Years Old Port (Matured in Wood)Color: Warm, bleak red (rosé), not yet brown.

Nose: Sweet and lively, hints of acidity and freshness. Lots of red fruits, strawberry, raspberry. Cherry candy. It doesn’t smell its age (it smells younger). In the distance a little bit of wood and mint, but also some licorice. Classy nose. Very sweet with an added bonus. The influence of wood, which adds to the character and it doesn’t let the sweetness dominate (the nose).

Taste: Sweet but also enough acidity to counteract the sweetness. In fact the nose smelled a lot sweeter than this Port actually is. Lots of strawberry and raspberry again, this time with added acidity from currants. This tastes great and very likeable and harmonious. If in anything it shows its age than it is in the finish. The half-long finish is a little bit brittle, the lively fruitiness dissipates quickly, it goes from sweet to sour, to… a memory of Port (not saying it is short).

This isn’t a full-blown red Port anymore, it’s a Tawny that for me has some notes of red Port (youth?). On the taste it shows two sides of itself. Very fruity without being full on sweetness, and then a turning point into something more vague. If only the finish would have held up a bit more. But that’s nit-picking. This is a very good Kopke 10yo. It’s much better than I initially expected. Think strawberries. The Port has an ABV of 20% and was matured in small 250 liter casks. Recommended for Christmas!

Points: 87

Thanks to Richard and Esther for the bottle.

Warre’s Warrior (Reserve)

And finally a Port emerges on these pages and since it took so long, it might come as a surprise that I really like Port. I normally do not like sweet drinks, but reading back on these pages it should become clear to you, that I do like (overly) sweet Sherries like the PX’s, but also Port. Due to some issues with shelve space I do not have a lot of Sherries and Port’s open, nor should I, since both Sherry and Port shouldn’t be kept open for too long, it’s not Whisky you know.

As with lot’s of Port “houses” it has a long, very long history. Even this Warrior has a long history. Warre themselves claim that: “[Warrior] is the oldest brand of Port in the world, having been shipped continuously since the 1750’s”. The company that became Warre’s was established in 1670, but the first Warre came to the firm in 1729.

Let’s start of with Warre’s Warrior. I’d like to start with Warre since a long time ago, Warre’s Otima 10 (or 20) was my first bottle of Port ever. Warre’s Warrior comes from Quinta da Cavadinha and Quinta do Retiro Antigo from the Pinhão and Rio Torto valleys, also the home of Warre’s Vintage Port.

Color: Deep red and thick.

Nose: Very sweet and raisiny. It definitely smells like a Port to be had as a dessert, or with a dessert. For me it smells like a warm summer, mellow and toned down. I can imagine drinking this in summer, slightly chilled. It smells nice, but lacks complexity, it isn’t very pretentious, but easily drinkable.

Taste: Ahhh, very fruity and aromatic, much more of a flavor explosion than the nose suggested. Various red fruits. Sweet raspberry mostly. The nose suggested an extremely sweet Port, heavy sweetness and raisins, but on the contrary. Even though it shows long legs and smells of raisins, it doesn’t taste like that. This Warrior is fruity! Half-sweet and has a very nice balance with its (sometimes sharp, but refreshing) acidity. A little bit of oil from orange skins. Tannins play a role too, they’re drying the tongue. Last but not least, the finish, it’s short. Slightly woody too. If the finish was longer and a little bit sweeter, this would really be perfect, but as it is, it still is a steal.

Thick Ruby Port that sticks to the glass. Even though it has a lot of balance, the nose and the taste seem to be two different wines in one (ain’t that a contradiction!). It’s a surprise, but treat it as a present, since we’re getting two types of Port for the price of one, and it’s dirt cheap to boot. Due to a lot of regulation and control from the Port Institute, only Ports with a decent quality are released. This Warrior is definitely worth looking into for an inexpensive daily drinker. ABV is 20%.

Points: 83