The Unfiltered Truth

Dalva 94 Lees
Dalva '94 Lees

Anybody who knows me, knows I love Port. All ports are good – Tawny, LBV, White, Ruby – but vintage Port is the real thing. An employee of the Port & Douro Wine Institute (IVDP) once put it to me that “Tawny is a drink, but Vintage Port is a wine.” This assessment makes great sense to me, although may seem a little gnomic to other people.


Vintage is unbelievably fine and complex. Nowhere near as sweet as a Ruby or a Tawny, with tremendous tastes of earth, and coffee and spice and a much finer, less cloying finish with tannin and some acid apparent.. it’s just amazing stuff.

The downside is twofold. Firstly you have to wait until it’s at least 10 years old to drink. (It’s usually best between 15 and 30 years of age, but a good vintage keeps almost forever. Secondly, much of it is unfiltered. REALLY unfiltered.

Traditionally, you decanted it, and tossed the heel of the bottle. But I got a tip from Hugh Johnson. I decant the first half, and then pour the last half through a coffee filter, thus getting every drop. Nobody has complained so far.

If you look at the picture above, it’s the filter from the next morning. You can actually see the whole grape skins.

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