White Port

Anything to do with Port.
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jdaw1
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Re: White Port

Post by jdaw1 » 19:53 Tue 08 Apr 2014

Axel P wrote:Just opened a nice new white Port. Please see Tasting Notes.
40y old White Port Vieira de Sousa.

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JacobH
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Re: White Port

Post by JacobH » 11:16 Fri 31 Jul 2020

I’ve been drinking a reasonable amount of white port recently; far more than previously.

It is interesting to look back on this thread to see how far the industry has changed in the last 12 years. Back in 2008, only basic white Port was formally acknowledged as existing by the IVDP and so the aged whites had a bit of a “bootleg” quality. I think the Santa Eufémia 1972 was euphemistically described as a “special reserve”. There were also so few available: the only aged white that was readily available outside Portugal was the Dalva 1952 which had a bit of a mythical quality to it. It was talked about a bit like the garrafeiras: excellent wine from a unique category.

Since the IVDP acknowledged the existence of aged white Ports there are now loads of them being produced. What really interests me is how many old ones are around: this suggests that the producers were aging a reasonable amount of White Port for personal consumption without much view to selling them. Oscar Quevedo said as much at the tasting last night, suggesting he had to persuade his sister that their 30-year-old was worth selling. Their 1970 colheita also has to be sold in the old-fashioned bootleg way as a “very old white” or something similar because the family never bothered registering it with the IVDP.

I presume that some of the current 10-year-old whites will be the first releases made with Ports laid down specifically for commercial sale and, over the coming decades, they will percolate up into more 20-, 30- and 40-year old whites. It will be interesting to see if this also results in an improvement in quality.

I also think it is interesting to look at the basic whites.

One striking feature of the basic white category is that there is such a colossal amount of variation. There is no consensus between producers as to what a basic white should be. We have ones which are very sweet (e.g. the Ramos-Pinto “Lágrima” White), very dry (e.g. Taylor’s “Chip Dry”) or something in the middle. Some are bottled to be very fresh (e.g. Graham’s № 5) whilst others have a bit of age (e.g. Churchill). Alcohol levels seem to fluctuate from 21% (e.g. Martha’s Extra Dry*) down to 18% (e.g. Niepoort).

[* which is the only one of these Ports which I have not tried]

I should also say that I presume someone, somewhere, makes the fabled 16.5% Leve Secco which is mentioned in every book about Port but which I have never seen for sale, let alone tried.

The problem with this diversity is that it is not at all clear for consumers what they are buying. Is a “dry white” bone dry or off-dry? Will it have any age or be very fresh? If you liked the Graham’s № 5 and then bought the Taylor’s Chip Dry you would be bitterly disappointed but if you bought the Cockburn’s you might be happier.

I think the best basic white ports are ones that are clearly ports and not poor copies of sherry. As a result, I like them to be at least medium sweet, although I do think there is an advantage at the lower ABVs to give them a lightness. I think both the fresh and aged approach are good, as long as the aged ones still retain some fruit.

I sometimes wonder if there has been an over-reliance on structural varieties of grapes over those which give aromas. I also think wonder if the best vineyards for white grapes are not those that have received as much investment in recent years since they might be further away from the rivers, where higher altitude will produce cooler temperatures.
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Alex Bridgeman
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Re: White Port

Post by Alex Bridgeman » 12:41 Sat 01 Aug 2020

I really agree with you Jacob. Over the last 2-3 years - since visiting Quinta das Lamelas and after Kopke's masterclass on White Port at the BFT a couple of years ago - I have been drinking much more white Port than in previous years. Mrs B has also decided that white Port is her drink of choice; sometimes mixed and sometimes straight depending on whether she's drinking Cockburn Fine White or Quevedo 1970 white.

My go to white has become the Quinta das Lamelas 10 year old. It's not cheap, but it is delicious and so easy to drink chilled from the fridge on a warm summer's day. It seems to disappear alarmingly quickly.

But there are so many other good whites around. I wish I could get the Kopke whites more easily in the UK, Laithwaite's carry some of the Andresen whites (which are also rather nice) and, of course, Vintage Wine & Port offer the Quevedo white range.

Perhaps because of their novelty, perhaps because of the relatively small number of suitable white grape vines in the Douro, I find white Port is more expensive than it's quality ruby counterpart sometimes being reflected as a difference in price or sometimes being reflected as the 20YO tawny in 75cl and the 20YO white being in 50cl bottles but both bottles being the same price.

Unfortunately it seems that Mrs B and I enjoy white Port sufficiently to be prepared to pay the premium! But I love this development in the Port industry and will continue to enjoy the benefits.

I can't wait for a maverick to make a white "vintage" Port as an experiment...
Top Ports in 2019: Niepoort VV (1960s bottling) and Quinta do Noval Nacional 2017
Top Ports in 2020 (so far): Croft 1945 and Niepoort VV (1960s bottling)

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JacobH
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Re: White Port

Post by JacobH » 18:22 Sat 01 Aug 2020

The other thing that strikes me, looking back, is that in 2008 the Port industry was in the midst of the “Pink Port” nonsense. It seems crazy that all that effort was thrown at making something brand new (which generally poor results) when White Port was so undeveloped.
AHB wrote:
12:41 Sat 01 Aug 2020
My go to white has become the Quinta das Lamelas 10 year old. It's not cheap, but it is delicious and so easy to drink chilled from the fridge on a warm summer's day. It seems to disappear alarmingly quickly.
Interesting. I’ll have a look for a bottle of that: I’ve tried a few of their wines over the years but only in Portugal. Is there a UK supplier?

I think the comment about how easy some of these are to drink is an important one. For me this suggests that a lower ABV is the way to go since most people don’t want to quaff their way through a bottle at 20% ABV on a hot summer’s day. I appreciate this creates a tension against marketing them as a cocktail ingredient where a slightly higher strength is beneficial. But then I am always a bit suspicious of drinks which are marketed for cocktails rather than to be drunk in their own right!
AHB wrote:
12:41 Sat 01 Aug 2020
Perhaps because of their novelty, perhaps because of the relatively small number of suitable white grape vines in the Douro, I find white Port is more expensive than it's quality ruby counterpart sometimes being reflected as a difference in price or sometimes being reflected as the 20YO tawny in 75cl and the 20YO white being in 50cl bottles but both bottles being the same price.
Yes: and I think this could be a real problem for expansion since the higher prices put the white ports in comparative price brackets with other wines which are much better value. For example, the Graham’s № 5 is a very good wine but just seems a bit too pricey at £21. It’s why I think Cockburn’s have got it exactly right in terms of value for money.
AHB wrote:
12:41 Sat 01 Aug 2020
I can't wait for a maverick to make a white "vintage" Port as an experiment...
That idea has Dirk Niepoort’s name written all over it!
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Alex Bridgeman
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Re: White Port

Post by Alex Bridgeman » 23:05 Sat 01 Aug 2020

JacobH wrote:
18:22 Sat 01 Aug 2020
AHB wrote:
12:41 Sat 01 Aug 2020
My go to white has become the Quinta das Lamelas 10 year old. It's not cheap, but it is delicious and so easy to drink chilled from the fridge on a warm summer's day. It seems to disappear alarmingly quickly.
Interesting. I’ll have a look for a bottle of that: I’ve tried a few of their wines over the years but only in Portugal. Is there a UK supplier?
Unfortunately not at the moment. I either buy when in Portugal and bring them back with me or buy from the cellar and have them ship the bottles over to me.
JacobH wrote:
18:22 Sat 01 Aug 2020
AHB wrote:
12:41 Sat 01 Aug 2020
I can't wait for a maverick to make a white "vintage" Port as an experiment...
That idea has Dirk Niepoort’s name written all over it!
Or perhaps Oscar given what he was saying on Thursday.
Top Ports in 2019: Niepoort VV (1960s bottling) and Quinta do Noval Nacional 2017
Top Ports in 2020 (so far): Croft 1945 and Niepoort VV (1960s bottling)

Andy Velebil
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Re: White Port

Post by Andy Velebil » 21:38 Sun 02 Aug 2020

I was very much into aged white Ports many years ago, long before they became popular. I used to ask every producer I visited and almost all said they had little to no old white Port. The old Casa Do Douro on the other hand used to have lots. I'm sure you can figure out how so many producers ended up with old stocks so quickly.

That said, many producers made small amounts of it for family use. So like the old Scion's, there was amounts of it around.

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JacobH
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Re: White Port

Post by JacobH » 21:58 Sun 02 Aug 2020

I always forget about the Casa and its stocks!

But, as a serious question, how did it end up with such stocks? Was it really the case that they would buy any white Port on offer (with no realistic prospect of selling it) without encouraging the producers to grow more saleable stuff?
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jdaw1
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Re: White Port

Post by jdaw1 » 20:06 Thu 04 Feb 2021

Just bought from Laithwaite’s (part of Direct Wines Ltd): Andresen 10Y White, in 50cl. It says bottled 2020. How much bottle age would be useful?

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Alex Bridgeman
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Re: White Port

Post by Alex Bridgeman » 21:12 Thu 04 Feb 2021

jdaw1 wrote:
20:06 Thu 04 Feb 2021
Just bought from Laithwaite’s (part of Direct Wines Ltd): Andresen 10Y White, in 50cl. It says bottled 2020. How much bottle age would be useful?
Anything from none to a couple of decades.

The bottles of 10YO White I buy tend to be consumed within 12 months of purchase. I definitely don't buy them to bottle age them.
Top Ports in 2019: Niepoort VV (1960s bottling) and Quinta do Noval Nacional 2017
Top Ports in 2020 (so far): Croft 1945 and Niepoort VV (1960s bottling)

Glenn E.
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Re: White Port

Post by Glenn E. » 23:53 Thu 04 Feb 2021

jdaw1 wrote:
20:06 Thu 04 Feb 2021
Just bought from Laithwaite’s (part of Direct Wines Ltd): Andresen 10Y White, in 50cl. It says bottled 2020. How much bottle age would be useful?
I assume that the unwritten rules for bottle-aging TWAIOA would also apply to WWAIOA, so that would make the standard recommendation "drink within 3-5 years of bottling."

I have not had that much experience with bottle-aged whites, so can't say with certainty that they have the same (or more) aging potential as some tawnies (particularly Colheitas). But I have had many bottle-aged white wines and those seem to age splendidly, so I have high hopes for bottle-aged white Port as well.
Glenn Elliott

Mike J. W.
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Re: White Port

Post by Mike J. W. » 03:44 Fri 05 Feb 2021

First time posting to this site. I'm usually on FTLOP, but I've enjoyed lurking on here the past year or so as well. This thread caught my eye because tonight I coincidentally opened a S. Leonardo 20 y.o. white. It's like drinking liquid butterscotch with a twist of citrus. Very nice.

I had a Dalva Golden White '71 a few months back and that was outstanding. Some day, I hope to try the '52.

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uncle tom
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Re: White Port

Post by uncle tom » 10:11 Fri 05 Feb 2021

How much bottle age would be useful?
As this category has not been around for long, we are in the realms of informed guesswork. My limited experience of aged white colheitas does not suggest anything bad happens to them over time, and wines from 1933 and 1940 have shown great elegance.

Tawnies that have been savagely filtered and fined sometimes fall apart, but Andresen has form for not processing its wines aggressively.

What to do? Buy another, drink one, and keep the other for ten years or more.
I may be drunk, Miss, but in the morning I shall be sober and you will still be ugly - W.S. Churchill

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jdaw1
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Re: White Port

Post by jdaw1 » 01:16 Thu 11 Feb 2021

Mike J. W. wrote:
03:44 Fri 05 Feb 2021
First time posting to this site.
Welcome to TPF.

uncle tom wrote:
10:11 Fri 05 Feb 2021
What to do? Buy another, drink one, and keep the other for ten years or more.
Translation: try not to drink the whole dozen in summer 2021.

idj123
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Re: White Port

Post by idj123 » 13:53 Thu 11 Feb 2021

jdaw1 wrote:
01:16 Thu 11 Feb 2021
Mike J. W. wrote:
03:44 Fri 05 Feb 2021
First time posting to this site.
Welcome to TPF.

uncle tom wrote:
10:11 Fri 05 Feb 2021
What to do? Buy another, drink one, and keep the other for ten years or more.
Translation: try not to drink the whole dozen in summer 2021.
That's pretty much what I did last year- bought a case of 12 of the 10yr white and then drank it all :D

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Alex Bridgeman
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Re: White Port

Post by Alex Bridgeman » 17:01 Thu 11 Feb 2021

10YO white is incredibly easy to drink. I drank my way through a case of 12 last summer too - although I had help as soon as Mrs B saw what was in my glass.
Top Ports in 2019: Niepoort VV (1960s bottling) and Quinta do Noval Nacional 2017
Top Ports in 2020 (so far): Croft 1945 and Niepoort VV (1960s bottling)

Glenn E.
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Re: White Port

Post by Glenn E. » 18:05 Thu 11 Feb 2021

During the "pre-tour" for one of Roy's Port Harvest Tours, I discovered - basically by accident - that a 10 Year Old White works exceptionally well and a food wine across dishes that others might need a champagne, a white wine, a rose, or even a lighter red like a Pinot Noir. This was as Euskalduna in Porto. Everyone else was getting the proscribed wine pairing while I just kept ordering another glass of Andressen 10 YO White. It wasn't until the last course, for which the others were having a bigger, heavier red that I felt the Andressen wasn't quite right with the dish.

The added benefit is that while white Ports do tend to be more expensive than similar age tawny Ports, the ability to downgrade the age category from my usual 30 or 40 Year Old Tawny to a 10 Year Old White means that I'm still saving money. :-)
Glenn Elliott

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