8 of our Favorite Fortified Wines to Warm Up Your Winter

fortified wine in a window overlooking a European village
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The cold weather makes us want to stay in, sit near a crackling fire, and have ourselves a merry little fortified wine. Port is one of the most well-known fortified wines,  but they’re not just made in Portugal but all over the world. The style of winemaking is often a winter favorite due to its elevated alcohol content, often enjoyed as a nightcap but can be enjoyed year-round or used to add complexity to many cocktails.

The Ultimate Guide to the Wide World of Fortified Wine

Taylor Fladgate 2018 Vintage (Port); $120, 98 points. This is an exceptional vintage, most unusually the third in a row from this producer. Intensely perfumed, richly structured with dark-black fruits, concentrated tannins, it is set for seriously long-term aging. The power of the wine, based around the producer’s Quinta da Vargellas, is magnificent. Drink this major Port from 2029. Kobrand. Cellar Selection. —Roger Voss

Quinta do Noval 2018 Vintage (Port); $100, 96 points. While this vintage was not generally declared as such by the major Port houses, it has produced some very fine wines. This wine, still very young, is dry in style, full of black cherry and spice flavors along with intense acidity. The spirit is not fully integrated yet, but that will come. It is certainly for long-term aging, so wait to drink until 2028. Vintus LLC. Cellar Selection. —Roger Voss

Yalumba NV Rare Aged Tawny 50 Years Old Port (Eden Valley); $240, 96 points. The oldest of Yalumba’s three mature Tawnies is a thing of history and beauty, with a portion of the blend from the 1940s, and fortified with brandy from Yalumba’s house still. This is warm brown and green-rimmed in hue, like a favorite leather armchair, and the depth of aroma and flavor is remarkable. Chocolate, walnut, molasses and a whisper of dried fruit billow out of the glass. The alcohol and the sweetness are prominent, but those rich, complex aromas morph into flavor, flowing through to a long finish. Concentrated but still vibrant, this is drinking perfectly now and should be one of those gems you open on a very special occasion. Negociants USA–Winebow. —Christina Pickard

Hawk and Horse Vineyards 2014 Latigo Cabernet Franc (Red Hills); $50, 93 points. This beautiful Port-style dessert wine offers tempting, concentrated black-fruit flavors accented by flower and orange-peel notes. It is quite sweet and full in weight, feeling smooth and just a touch tannic in texture. Best through 2030. —Jim Gordon

Schmidt 2015 Tempus Dessert Wine Tempranillo (Applegate Valley); $25, 92 points. Made entirely from Tempranillo, this fortified wine is a true delight. Black cherry, candied plums, cola, black tea and coffee liqueur flavors combine, with the sweetness of toffee. It’s a lot like a young Port, and makes a delicious after dinner digestif. Editors’ Choice. —Paul Gregutt

The Making of a 100-Point Wine: A Vintage Port of Immense Concentration

Villa Oeiras NV White (Carcavelos); $23, 91 points. This is a rare fortified wine, aged for seven years in wood, made in protected Carcavelos vineyards two miles from the ocean west of Lisbon. With a golden color and plenty of wood and spice flavors, the wine with its richness and link between sweet fruits and drier wood-aged flavors, deserves to be better known. Haus Alpenz. Editors’ Choice. —Roger Voss

Domaine des Bernardins 2018 Muscat Beaumes de Venise; $20, 90 points. Dusky pink in hue, this blend of 75% white and 25% black Muscat à Petits Grains offers sunny peach and blood orange flavors edged by a touch of aperol-like bitterness. It’s lusciously sweet, even a touch marmalade like, but balanced alcohol and fresh acidity lead a vibrant finish. Kysela Père at Fils. —Anna Lee C. Iijima

Sparkman 2017 Hallelujah Red (Yakima Valley); $60, 90 points. This is equal parts Touriga Nacional and Souzão, with the fruit from Upland Vineyard. Aromas of brown sugar, caramel and plum are followed by rich fruit and barrel flavors. It has a nice yum factor. —Sean P. Sullivan

Published on December 23, 2020
Topics: Fortified Wines