Kopke Colheita 2003 (2018)

In several of my previous reviews, even more than once, I stated that I love my Ports, and I hereby confirm that I still do, even though my last review was done in the spring of 2014! Terrible! There is no excuse! How did that happen? five years! Is time flying this fast? I have to make amends and restart the fire of Port! Auke, also mentioned before, was so kind as to present me with a sample of one of his recent acquisitions, to help me restart the fire. Kopke Colheita 2003. Auke loves his Ports as well, and even managed to visit Portugal this summer, something I have yet to do.

personally, I love Colheita’s. They are aged, refined, easy to use, (so no decanting of unfiltered vintages) and quite affordable. Sure, vintages are the biggest thing in Port-world, but Colheita’s most definitely earned their place under the sun as well. Even better, Colheita’s also offer us a high quality alternative to Vintage Port and L.B.V.’s, with a different profile, a Tawny profile. Aged, not ruby red any more and more delicate. So a true win-win situation.

Color: Vibrant old red, tiniest hint of tan.

Nose: Fresh, sweet and fruity. Perfumy even. Deep, dusty and dark, with hints of asphalt, tar and licorice. Dry forest floor (in the summer). This adds to the third dimension of the Port and is most certainly not upfront. The combination of freshness and fruits with the darker side is quite interesting. The fruit stays, cherries and raisins with a nice acidic vibrancy. Waves of chewy fruity sweetness. Hardly any wood notes, not even the vanilla of American oak, nor the tannins of European oak. This Colheita is all about being quiet. It’s quiet and calm, softly spoken. The quiet intelligent guy in the corner who would rather ready a book than party hard.

Taste: Quite thin on entry. Not very syrupy and the sweetness seems to be very well kept in check. Plenty of youthful vibrancy and acidity. Here it shows its winy character. The body is quite simple, very nice, but simple. This is a Colheita that is not about sweetness. Sure it has some sweetness to it, (dry honey, does that make sense?), but that is not the crux of the story this Port wants to tell. Nope, this is about fruit, little sweet forest strawberries, cherries (especially in the nose). Not overly ripe red fruits, but almost there. all in all, a rather short finish for such and “old” Port, or does the old age show its fragility here? By the way, the deeper notes I got from the nose are not here in the body of the taste, not even in the finish, although the tiniest hint of wood (bitter) does show itself along to some almonds. Nope, well into the fruity and acidic aftertaste some more of the darker notes briefly return to take a final bow to the lover of Port and kiss his or her lips for the final time.

Medium sweetness which is balanced out nicely by firm fruity acidity. Very friendly and likeable on entry, but lacking a bit of complexity and oomph in the body and finish, but a real winner on the nose! Master Quill’s top tip: take this in big gulps to enhance the aroma’s.

Points: 84

Tomatin 14yo “Port Casks” (46%, OB, Tawny Port Pipes Finish, 2016)

I come from a time when Distilleries started experimenting with other casks than the usual Bourbon and Sherry casks. When Whiskies finished in Wine casks, Port casks and Rum casks popped up in the market, I actually preferred the Rum cask versions the most. I didn’t particularly like the Wine and Port finishes. It’s not because I couldn’t keep up with the pace of change, because today there are lots of these finishes around that are pretty good, but when I taste back the first examples they still are not-so-good. Port was an easy choice for distillers and blenders I guess, since it is related to Sherry and both are fortified Wines. However Sherry casks and Port casks yield very different Whiskies.

I guess the early versions were finished in casks that previously held Ruby Port. Young and bold stuff, which made for a very raw and harsh Whisky, especially when finished for too long. The U.K. loves Vintage Port which are excellent Ruby Ports, 2 years old, so the obvious starting point for experimentation with finishing. Today we see more and more Port finishes done in Port Pipes that previously held Tawny Port. Tawny Ports are older Ports, that turn (reddish) brown from oxidation. For this 14yo expression Tomatin first matured the Whisky in Bourbon barrels and for the finish they used Port Pipes that previously held Tawny port for 50 years! The 14yo Tomatin was first introduced in 2014, a replacement for the 15yo, which came from Bourbon casks only. Tomatin also discontinued the 25yo which also was from Bourbon casks only. In 2016 we saw a complete revamp of the design, so this review is for the “new”14yo, number four in the core range preceded by the “Legacy”, the 12yo and a Cask Strength version without an age statement (We’ll get to that one later).

Tomatin 14yo Port Casks 2016Color: Gold with a pinkish hue.

Nose: Musty and definitely recognizable as a Port finish. It is quite obvious to say the least. Also the color gave it away. You don’t get this pinkish hue, from caramel coloring, and wine finishes smell differently, however it also reminds me a bit of a Jenever fully matured in a Bordeaux cask. Apart from the typical fruity Portiness there is an unusual hay-like aroma, like Grappa has, it is different from your usual Whisky. In the back there is also a more creamy, vanilla note, softening the whole up. Nice soft wood as well. Although the finish is quite strong, it isn’t overpowering, and the Whisky remains balanced. Nevertheless, the finish ís strong enough not to let Tomatin’s signature tropical fruitiness through.

Taste: Sweet and fruity. Chewy. Here the finish isn’t as strong at first like in the nose. Here it starts with sweet and creamy Bourbon cask notes, but the Port quickly exerts itself. I don’t know yet if the burnt note I get, comes from toasted oak, or from the Port pipes (or both). A fruity acidity lies on top, so less balance here than on the nose. Hints of paper (not cardboard, which is heavier and less likeable). The whole is quite creamy and friendly. Well made and quite bold to let the Port finish speak its mind. Creamy, fruity, slightly burnt and some nice wood. That sums it up. Medium finish.

This is daily drinker material. Something I would reach for quite often. Sure you can analyze it to death, but why should you. I already did that for you. Not very expensive and fun to drink and definitely different from most other expressions in the shops today.

Points: 84 (same score as the previous version)

Spey Tenné (46%, OB, Selected Edition, Tawny Port Cask Finish, 18.000 bottles)

The Speyside distillery was officially founded in 1976 by George Christie. Distillation was in George’s blood since he used to be a… submarine captain, who probably missed the sound of trickling liquids. Building of the distillery commenced already in 1962 and was finished in 1987. Lots of the building was done by George himself, so it took him a while. We have to wait a further three years for the first distillation. (December 1990), The spirit has to age for at least three years to be called a Whisky, so in 1993 the first Whisky was released under the name “Drumguish”, from the name of the place the distillery was built. In 1999 the first Single Malt was released under the “Speyside” name, an 8yo. In 2012 the distillery which already changed hands a few times was sold to one of its clients. Harvey’s of Edinburgh. Harvey’s again changed the name of their Single Malt, calling it simply “Spey”. In 2014 the new range was released, starting with this Tenné, but also a 12yo and a 18yo were released.

Spey TennéColor: Salmon, like a modern rosé wine from the south of France.

Nose: Extremely malty. It’s like holding the grain in your hand. This smell makes up most of the beginning of the nose. Given some time the Port starts to “work”. Initially a more glue like sensation which turns into an overly fruity and acidic distilled Port that is used to fortify Port. With even some more breathing, a hint of sweetness and wine gums come to the fore, combined with some rural or farmy notes. After that it tones down and gets more powdery with even a tiny hint of gunpowder. Stale beer in the finish but also some vanilla. Wine finishes can be pretty funky.

Taste: Pretty sweet, bitter oak and again malty. It comes in layers and in that particular order. First a very friendly sweet candy like aroma, when that moves over, the roof of your mouth gets a bitter sap attack which evolves into a slightly toasted and oaky taste, mixed with sandalwood, (the Port probably did that), and licorice. Intertwined is the taste of malts. On top, a slightly acidic and fruity note, but that’s it actually, not a lot more is happening. The ABV of 46% gives it some strength and some hotness for the finish.

This expression is said to be a minimum of 8 years old. It is an extremely malty and pretty simple Whisky. For me, the Port finish didn’t bring a lot of complexity to the mix. Just giving it a shift in profile. Malty and simple, not bad, but also nothing to get overly exited about. Anonymous at best, except for the bottle itself. Looks very luxurious with its beautiful tartan ribbon.

Having said all that, it’s a lovely distillery and I hope they will get better with every release.

Points: 73

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 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.