Fortified wines have had a tough time of it recently. They’ve fallen out of fashion, more associated with something your Gran will have little glass of at Christmas than the nation’s fashionable drinking spots. There are many signs however that things are changing. High-end tapas bars are bringing sherry back into the spotlight and introducing a new generation to its charms. While the demographic of port consumers is getting younger as the wine defines itself as a premium indulgence unsurpassed when paired with cheese and desserts.
Perhaps it’s perception that is the biggest barrier to new consumers, perhaps it’s a shortage of good ranges of the style. Many outlets choose to play it safe with the selection of single bottle of sherry, a single ruby port and a single bottle of vermouth, however when you delve into the category you quickly realise there is so much to explore. There is certainly some mystique to these wines and a lack of knowledge, even among those who know a lot about wine!
With that thought in mind, I once again asked our wine experts to recommend 5 fortified wines to shine a light on the variety within the category. Let us know what you think in the comments below and share with us your favourite fortified wines.
La Guita En Rama, Manzanilla
The wines of La Guita are new to the range this year, joining us as part of the Autumn Release. The winery, named Bodega Hijos de Rainera Pérez Marín was founded in 1852 in Sanlúcar de Barrameda, a city of about 70,000 people northwest of Cádiz. Sanlúcar is famed for Manzanilla, prawns and flamenco music, offering up the picture postcard image of Spanish life. La Guita En Rama pays homage to this birthplace. The nearby XIV century church of Nuestra Señora de la O features on the label.
This wine expresses the terroir of Sanlúcar and demonstrates the subtlety of the finest La Guita soleras. Constructed from Palomino grapes mainly sourced from the Miraflores estate, the wine is bottled without going through the processes of clarification and stabilisation, only subjected to a slight filtration. The result is delicate wine with hints of hazelnut and Chamomile. The fresh palate of lemon peel, apricot and mandarin can be enjoyed time and time again.
Gonzalez Byass Noe, Pedro Ximénez Muy Viejo
Head winemaker, Antonio Flores, was literally born on top of the little cellar where the first Tio Pepe solera was laid. It’s these rare old Soleras that inspire, and have a hand in, creating some of the world’s finest dessert wines.
It’s said that Noe tastes of the deep silence and cool shade of the bodega in which it matures for 30 years. For us it’s its flavours of concentrated raisin, fig, coffee and Christmas spices finished with sweet, plump, cooked fruit and warm aromas that make it such an outstanding wine. With a staggering 430 g/l of residual sugar, it makes a perfect partner for your desserts.
Dow’s Quinta do Bomfim, Vintage Port
Dow’s is one of the great port houses with a history like many others for its long-standing connection to Britain. The names of these brands give themselves away Cockburn, Croft, Dow and Graham. It was recognised early on in the 17th and 18th centuries that port would be popular in Britain, a popularity that would accelerate as a war with France deprived English wine drinkers.
Dow’s, however, does stand out for being the first to be transported across the Bay of Biscay under its own armed protection by a Portuguese merchant rather than British importers. The Quinta do Bomfim vineyard has been producing grapes for Dow’s Ports since 1896.
One of the Douro Valley’s finest vineyards, the estate is situated in the centre of the best wine-producing area known as the ‘Cima Corgo’. The whole Bomfim vineyard is ‘A-rated’. In the good years when Dow’s does not declare a Vintage, the best Ports of Quinta do Bomfim are carefully selected and bottled as Dow’s Quinta do Bomfim Vintage Port. These wines are exceptionally good. They will tend to mature a little earlier than the very rare ‘Declared’ years but can be every bit as good.
Hidalgo La Gitana, Manzanilla
Don José Pantaleón Hidalgo founded the Bodega Hidalgo in 1792 when he bought a small storage warehouse from Don Roque Vejarano. He wouldn’t have known the operation would grow to become one of the most important producers of Manzanilla in the world.
La Gitana, Manzanilla is the flagship wine of the house. It’s produced with grapes from its own vineyards, located in the Balbaina and Miraflores regions. Matured on the coast at Sanlucar De Barrameda and finished in barrels which date back to the construction of the winery, the resulting wine is a pale fino with a delightful and salty tang. Delicious served cold, it is ideal for all tapas, smoked meats, white meats and salads.
Graham's 10-Year-Old Tawny Port
Established in 1820, W & J Graham is one of the most famous names in the Port trade and has long been synonymous with the greatest Vintage Ports. The Symington family, which also has a long history with Dow’s, acquired the company from the Graham family in 1970, so today Graham’s remains a wholly family-owned firm.
At the heart of Graham’s Port is the famous Quinta dos Malvedos in the upper reaches of the Douro Valley. Different vintages are blended for this wine and aged for more than six years in oak casks. The nose shows complex nutty aromas combined with hints of honey and fig; the palate is rich and displays mature fruit flavours and spice, beautifully mellowed with a luscious long finish. Enjoyed with sweet pastries such as apple pie with cinnamon. Delicious.
You can find more information about our range of fortified wines here. If you want to stock any of the wines mentioned, click here to place an order online now, or here to request an account with us; and don’t forget we’re here to support you with everything you need to ensure that your wine range is a success, from free menu design and print services to staff training.