I recently had the chance to sample a range of Kopke Ports with winemaker Carla Tiago on her visit to Boston from Portugal. I was excited to see that she brought some well-aged white ports, which are uncommon in the U.S., as well as Colheita Port, which is single vintage Tawny Port that has been aged in wood for a minimum of seven years before bottling, and usually much longer. She additionally opened a few other special bottles, including two 50-year-old wines.
When trying Colheita Ports it is important to look for two dates on the bottle. On the front you find the year that the Port was put in oak casks. On the back you can see the year that it was bottled. This means that two different Colheita Ports from any particular year could be very different, depending on when each was taken out of wood and how long they then aged in the bottle.
Ms. Tiago reminded me that Tawny Ports, including all Colheita Ports can be kept as long as 5 months after opening if they are refrigerated. This is because Tawny Ports and Colheita Ports are already oxidized and aren’t significantly changed by being introduced to air. This makes Port a terrific value since they can be enjoyed over time. It is wonderful to have a small glass of Port with dessert (or as dessert), and a single bottle can last a while. This is not the case with Vintage Ports, which are aged exclusively in the bottle and will oxidize after opening. This means that Vintage Ports cannot be kept for long, even if refrigerated.
Let’s dive in to this incredible collection.
2003 Kopke White Colheita Port – This was the Port we started with, and it is a stunner. Bottled in 2021, it pours a beautiful golden orange. The nose and the palate offer honey and dried fruit as well as softer notes of ginger and molasses. This Port is medium sweet and has a wonderful, thick mouthfeel coupled with lively acidity and a long, gorgeous finish. I don’t know if I have tasted a better White Port. A / $85
Kopke Tawny Port 20 Years Old – Golden rust colored, this Port shows dried plums and medium sweetness. More complexity appears midpalate, as it grows spicy and shows high acidity. This is a nice example of a 20-year tawny. A- / $70
1999 Kopke Colheita Port – Bottled in 2022. Gold-tinted red in color, this Port shows light sweetness coupled with caramel and sour cherry notes as well as high acidity. It is a distinctive and enjoyable Colheita Port, but I preferred others more. B+ / $71
1985 Kopke Colheita Port – Bottled in 2022. Another stunner. Light brown and red in the glass, this Port has a gentle nose but a bold, complex palate showing deep, integrated notes of caramel, toffee, pecan, a touch of coffee, and a light herbal character. It also has a wonderful mouthfeel, blending medium sweetness and high acidity with a long finish. A / $100
Kopke White Port 50 Years Old – When White Port and Tawny Port age this long, the color of both become surprisingly similar. Only by putting the two 50-year Ports next to one another could I see which was White Port and which was Tawny. Unlike whiskey, the age on the bottle represents the average age of the Ports blended to make this wine, and not the youngest age. But this is very old White Port, and certainly the oldest I have ever tried. Rusty red with a light green tinge, this old White Port is surprisingly lively. The nose shows intense raisin, and the palate offers complex notes of caramel coupled with toasted orange citrus, high acidity, and a beautiful finish that goes on forever. A / $190 (375 ml)
Kopke Tawny Port 50 Years Old – This Port is also golden rusty red but with a light brown tinge. The nose and palate are very expressive, showing integrated notes of burnt caramel and raisin, with the wine offering medium acidity and a long, enjoyable finish. The liveliness of the 50-year Tawny Port and White Port surprised me and resulted, Ms. Tiago explained, from the wine’s acidity, which provides excellent structure even after so many years in wood. For Port fans, they are both worth seeking out. A / $290