Colheita is an aged Tawny Port made with grapes from a single vintage, instead of an indicated age (10, 20, 40 years) the actual vintage year is mentioned. However, colheita ports are not to be confused with vintage ports. A Vintage Port is usually bottled within 2 years of harvest and it continues to mature in the bottle, a Colheita may have spent 20 years or more in wooden barrels before being bottled. By law, Colheitas must be matured in wooden barrels for a minimum of 7 years, although in practice they tend to be aged for much longer, sometimes up to 50 and more years. They are bottled only when the producer decides that the port is ready to drink. The label must show both the vintage and the bottling date. Some shippers have replaced the term “colheita’ with “single harvest reserve”.
Colheita (literally “harvest” or “crop”) is a relatively rare style of port, which is a shame, because many are exceptional. They share many of the characteristics of aged Tawny Ports, including their characteristic mahogany colour, but as wines of a single harvest the individual features of each year are distinctively reflected. They combine all the sweet, dried fruit and nutty finesse of an Aged Tawny with an individual Vintage character. This mellow nutty, slightly woody, fruit character is partly derived from contact with air during long maturation in porous wooden barrels. The risk of throwing sediment in the bottle is small, due to this long ageing in wood.
Once opened, you do not have to drink it all the same day, just make sure it is stoppered well and leave it like that for as long as you wish. Next time you open it, the fine aromas and flavours will still be there.
Enjoy a glass of Colheita after dinner, with creamy cheeses, nuts, dried fruits, or by itself. Colheita makes one of the best pairings with a fine cigar.
Considered passé by many drinkers, fortified wines are not drunk often these days. They need to be special. The best Colheitas are very special indeed. Like my Today’s sampler:
Andresen Colheita 1982 Special Selection
Andresen is the only Port Hourse still bottling Colheita of 1900 and 1910 by demand, which means that these wines are sell kept in barrel. This is a perfect indication of their ageing potential.
This delicious drink delivers the notes of almonds, dried cherries, plum compote. The bouquet and the heavy smooth structure of this Colheita will make a good alliance with a cigar full-bodied yet refined (at first I tried to pair it with the good quality but budget-friendly Jose Marti, but no, it did not go too well). This type of port requires to be pared with a cigar more sophisticated, with deeper multi-tone richness, so my best pairing advice – Cohiba Maduro 5 “Genios”.
Victoria Radugina © August 2014