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Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Marks & Spencer Finest Reserve Port

Port comes in various categories, from entry-level ruby up to aged tawny and vintage.

The basics of all red ports are the same, however - indigenous grapes grown in Portugal's Douro region,  fortificated with grape spirit part-way through fermentation to retain some of the natural sugar.

This Finest Reserve from Marks & Spencer is, despite the aspirational name, a basic ruby, but I like it - within its range, it is a very good example; highly more-ish with no rough edges at all.

It is still a young, however, so it does not yet feel fully harmonious - the differing elements have not yet melded together fully; nor is it especially delicate or elegant.

Rather, it is well-balanced, extremely easy-drinking and full of character - and very sensibly priced; for just under a tenner, you get all the flavour and character of what a port should be. And in a full-sized bottle, too.

Dark purple in the glass, it shows strong, primary aromas of dark berry fruit, eucalyptus and spice. On the palate, it is mouthfilling with cassis, figgy, pruney fruit, peppery spice and a good slap of eucalptus.

On the finish, there is sweetness, alcohol and a pleasant grip.

A bit more money spent at with a local independent should get you something more complex, elegant and deft - but this is either a good place to start for anyone who wants to know what all the fuss is about or equally a handy bottle to have around in case non-wine-geek friends drop by over Christmas.

I matched it very successfully with Christmas pudding and cream - it is also one of the few wines that will stand up to anything with chocolate in.

Contrary to perceived wisdom, however, I would not match this with cheese - rather I find aged tawnies a much better match.

£9.99 from Marks & Spencers.

Other related articles
Dow's Vintage Port 1975‏
Noval Dinner at Cambridge Hotel du Vin‏

Marks & Spencers - website, twitter

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