Port house Graham’s is relaunching its aged tawnies in a bid to make the drink more appealing to younger consumers and not just “old colonels.”
The revamped range is set to hit the shelves worldwide in the run up to Christmas, featuring a clear squat bottle akin to the Bruichladdich single-malt distillery's distinctive bottle. “We believe that this bottle is very smart, modern and elegant. This is what is needed for these great wines,” said Paul Symington, joint managing director of Graham’s parent company, Symington Family Estates.
“If we just do what the old colonels are used to we will not have a future,” he added.
Meanwhile, Symington’s export director and winemaker, Jorge Nunes, hopes the new packaging will add cachet to an under-appreciated category.
“We have had single-year wines aging in the barrel for a very long time, but the whisky industry was very smart; they made that concept seem very luxurious – the single barrel, the single year, the single malts. We think our wines are as rich and as concentrated as whiskies, if not more so, and they work on the same sort of occasion.”
The port wine estate has also made adjustments to its blend to make the wines more food friendly. “We find that too many commercial tawny ports are very sweet,” said Symington. “They do well at tastings where a cursory taste throws up strong caramelized flavors, but they tend to coat the palate and do not encourage food matching or a second glass. So, Charles [Symington, head taster at Graham’s] looked for casks that had slightly more tannins and fine acidity.”
This can be done through selecting barrels from cooler years or from vineyards at higher altitude, for example.
The Graham’s team has also decided to use only wines matured in its Vila Nova de Gaia cellar in greater Oporto, which benefit from the cooling influence of the Atlantic Ocean. Wines aged in the Douro Valley will be excluded. The hotter, drier climes of the Douro Valley mean that wines tend to mature faster and may develop the caramelized flavors the port house wishes to avoid.
Following on from its 1952 Queen’s Diamond Jubilee special bottling, Symington revealed that Graham's would be introducing more dated tawnies in the future. It has already released 1961 and 1969 special bottlings.
Fast facts from Wine-Searcher's search engine:
- Region: Douro Valley, Portugal
- Average price: $55
- Average critics' score: 89/100