Niall’s virtual diary archives – Monday 4th January 2016

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Monday 4th January 2016: 12.31am. Location: Dromahane.

The final Christmas drink this year is not a sherry, but a port - specifically one of the many "Maynard's" ports Aldi sells where you always wonder how they can sell a forty year old tawney port for €50 which could not be awful? Fearing that and knowing my tolerance for port is dropping with advancing age, I had never risked the money - until now.

On Christmas Eve we bought the "book" of ports Aldi do which have sampler tubes of their white, ruby, late bottled vintage, 10 year, 20 year and 30 year tawney ports. It doesn't last long, but it was interesting to see the gap between the options, and as is often the case with port I found myself most liking the youngest and oldest by far with the middle ones not really doing anything for me for the increased price. None were overpoweringly sweet, even the white port which I was surprised to really like and I'd buy it or the ruby port again, for seven euro it's miles better than most wine under ten euro. I would not buy the LBV which was disappointing and actually inferior to the ruby or white ports.

The non awfulness of any of the samples persuaded me to invest in a whole bottle of the 40 year old tawney for fifty euro, shown in the last picture where the bottle has already somehow become half full! It is as good as traditional 40 year old ports costing a hundred euro plus? No, it is clearly a second grade blend, plus there is plenty of evidence of temperature damage from bad storage. Is it a superb tipple? Absolutely yes. There is oodles of complexity, structure and taste, and it is exceedingly yummy plus because it's an old tawney it is matured in casks not bottles, and therefore doesn't need decanting and is much less sweet and body loading than say a twenty year old vintage port which absolutely murders me, I am like someone who went to a squat rave and I don't feel right for days after, and it's no longer worth the hangover for me. This Aldi stuff though I reckon I could chomp a bottle and come up smiling next day.

Something I've since learned from Google is that Aldi sell about one eighth of all port sold worldwide, which is a stunning quantity and gives them enormous buying power, so even their own brand of port isn't necessarily from barrel dregs which I can confirm. You won't get port which connoisseurs will rave about, but you do get something very close for half the price. The 40 year old tawney really is very nice indeed, and I highly recommend Aldi's older tawney ports, they are worth every bit of their price despite being one half to one third the price of similarly aged non aldi port.

Sadly tomorrow I return to work, so no more boozing for me. I don't doubt what remains of our Christmas booze will get drunk at some point though, and of course fortified wines keep well for months after opening. Hope you all enjoyed these posts on not a typical selection of alcohol, and happy new year everybody!
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