Warre Late Bottled Vintage 2011

Sometimes you have to strike the iron while hot, so after an absence of Port on these pages for an amazing five years, here is number two within this week. After Auke’s Kopke I reviewed last, lets turn to a different style of Port, with my own Warre’s Late Bottled Vintage 2011. 2011? Is that a typo? No it isn’t, 2011 turned out to be a truly amazing, quintessential Vintage Port year! I ask myself, why didn’t they turn this into a LBV then? B-choice?

So what is a Late Bottled Vintage Port, I hear you ask?

Well, traditionally a Late Bottled Vintage (or LBV for short), is a Ruby Port from a single harvest/year, bottled after ageing for four to six years in wood, tonnels to be precise, which are very large casks. It should be a Vintage Port in style which is to retain some of the character of fruit and the tannins from the wood influence and the aroma’s to be had from the depot of the unfiltered Port (some more tannins for ya). Back in the day, there were many unfiltered LBV’s around, more akin to Vintage Ports. Apart from filtering, I’d like to point out that the time frame of four to six years is quite large. A 4yo Port does taste different from a 6yo Port (when aged in wood).

Today an LBV can taste young and fruity by, (in part), maturation in a tank, to retain that youthful, zesty, vibrant fruitiness, or a LBV can taste mature with noticeable wood ageing. Most of today’s LBV’s are filtered (and fined) and don’t need further ageing in the bottle, which is convenient. Luckily, some however, do have (some) depot and can be aged for a while longer. My Warre is such and example, going against the grain of the modern consumer who wants young and fruity LBV’s which are ready to drink. Although this Warre is not a true Traditional completely unfiltered, LBV, at least it doesn’t say so on the label, it does have some depot. Also, drinking this I do not feel the need to decant it. Sure you sometimes don’t know what you are getting when buying any bottle of LBV from the shelf, if only the labels were more clear, but I do welcome the choice.

To finish this introduction off, a household remark: The picture below is of the 2013 version, My bottle is already open, therefore not very photo genetic, and I couldn’t find a decent picture of the 2011 on ye olde interweb, so I used a decent picture of the next L.B.V. bottled by Warre, the 2013. Don’t be confused though, it looks exactly the same (apart from the year stated obviously).

Color: Extremely dark ruby red. Slightly cloudy and there is some depot in the bottle. Don’t spill this on your white shirt (I did that once at a Port Tasting, awkward).

Nose: Red Wine and fruits. Fresh and slightly sweet smelling, sometimes sugared fruits. Warming and fresh, almost like the warmth of the sun was captured in here. I get this every time I try it. Thick and yet not the promise of a lot of sweetness. Slightly dusty and closed. Warm berry juice over pudding. A tiny hint of vanilla, so American oak? Accessible and promising.

Taste: Sweet on entry with good acidity. Fruitier than the nose, otherwise it tastes like it smells.¬† Excellent acidity actually, matching the medium sweetness. Good balance. Again accessible just like it smells. 20% ABV, and it shows an alcoholic note, that seems to be disconnected from the Port itself. Tannic (Red Wine) mouthfeel, not much, but enough for the specific feel you get between your tongue and roof of mouth. Sweetish and fruity. Fruit juice for semolina pudding. Medium finish with (luckily) some tannins and woody bitter notes, all well in check, just adding to the complexity and giving it a more “Vintage” style. The Port is good and moderately complex. An easy daily drinker and definitely not a true Vintage Port which is something else entirely, but it is family. After multiple sips, the tannins dry out your lips and stay behind on your tongue. I like this style of LBV, it puts the V in the LBV, so to speak.

Just like the Colheita before, this Late Bottled Vintage is a style made for comfort, for all us full-time, over-time, busy office people. Tasty, without a lot of fuss. Just open it and drink. No decanting, no ages of ageing after buying, not a lot depot that gets between your teeth. Easy stuff. This is a very accessible and nice Port with some Vintage Port-style without the Vintage Port price tag, even less hard earned cash has to change hands than when buying a good Colheita. Nevertheless, a Colheita is something different, so you need both in your life. Frankie says: go for it!

Points: 83

After doing this review I feel that the Kopke Colheita 2003 I just reviewed, seems to be more modern in style (as mentioned above for modern LBV’s. It youthful and very fruity, which is a bit odd considering Colheita’s are about long ageing… Food for thought.

Thanks go out to Auke for bringing up Port again! Now de-cork the old White please ūüėČ

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

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

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‚Äôs”. 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 Pinh√£o¬†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