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

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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

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¬†‚Äč‚Äčwith 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

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