Winter’s Last Gasp

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There are many who welcome springtime, especially after our soggy winter, with open arms. Yet there are those who still crave lighting the evening fire, feeling a nip in the air and sipping a warming libation to banish the chill. When a wine can warm your heart and stay fresh four weeks after opening, that wine has a special place in my repertoire. Dow’s Port, nothing to do with the chemical company, still purveys the traditional style of extendedly-aged tawny ports. In some way it seems hard to justify aging a wine for 20 years before release, but these wonderful wine purveyors, the Symington family, do just that. Their 20-year Tawny resembles what old Colonel Potter, of M.A.S.H. fame, used to say about Single malts: “Not enough o’s in smooooth!”

Dow’s 20-Year Tawny Port $65 suggested retail price

Burnished mahogany color with lightening orange rim. It’s the complex bouquet that seals the deal. Aging in vats of varied sizes creates a profound final impression. Smoky caramel, apricot, clotted cream and ginger notes predominate. Flavors are not overtly sweet, nor heavy at all. Emphasizing plum, fig, honeyed orange, gingerbread and molasses, the satiny, vibrant mouth texture remains subtle throughout. Perfect for Brazil nuts, walnuts, dark chocolate, mince pie or all alone.
94/100 points

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Arturo Ciompi

Trained as a classical clarinetist and conductor, Arturo plied his trade for many years in New York, performing with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, New York City Opera, the American Symphony and countless chamber music groups. While living in Durham, Arturo became the wine manager at two iconic gourmet stores: Fowler’s in Durham and Southern Season in Chapel Hill. He had a wine spot on NPR in the ’90s and has been a continuously published wine journalist since 1997. He has won national awards for his work and is currently writing for Durham Magazine and its weekly blog, “Wine Wednesdays”. In addition, he loves teaching the clarinet. Read more on his website.

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