Tawny Ports are aged in casks rather than large tanks or bottle like
counterparts. This gives them a lighter (in both body and colour) and silkier
style. There are two major types of Tawny: a blend of several recent
vintages with no specific statement of age - known as basic Tawny Port -
and older aged Tawnies, marked as 10, 20, 30 or 40 years old.
Basic Tawny is aged in small casks for 2 to 8 years during which time the
wines take on a tawny colour (hence the name) and a smooth, sweet, dried fruit
character. Tawny Port can also be made by blending red and white Ports
together, although the finest examples are not made in this way.
Lightly-chilled Tawny makes an excellent aperitif but works equally well
with chocolate desserts or cheese. It is ready to drink as soon as it is
released, does not throw a sediment, and does not improve with bottle age.
Aged Tawny is the best-known and finest style of Tawny
Port, often in par with the other venerable style, Vintage Port. It
can be labeled as 10, 20, 30 or more than 40 years old. This age statement
refers to the average age of the wines in the blend although it is not an
exact science. Older Tawny Ports are added for extra subtlety and complexity
while younger Tawnies bring freshness. Vintage-dated Tawny is also
produced and is known as Colheita. It is relatively
rare but often offers exceptional quality and value.
Aged Tawnies are aged for many years in wooden casks where they
take on an increasingly tawny colour, a coffee, nutty, dried fruit complexity
and a silky character as the tannins soften. The oldest Tawnies are
more mellow, complex, delicate and less sweet in style. Once bottled,
Aged Tawnies are perfect to drink and do not require decanting. They do
not throw a sediment or improve with bottle age.