Wine Of The Week – Fonseca Guimaraens Port 1996

There’s one thing that must happen over the festive season. A fully loaded cheeseboard accompanied by a bottle of vintage port. If you don’t do this then you may not have got the best out of Christmas!


I’ve picked out the perfect bottle for this – Fonseca Guimaraens Port 1996. You can find it in our gift section because it comes in a lovely wooden box complete with a decanting funnel. Jamie Goode recently reviewed this port in The Sunday Express and here’s what he had to say about it.

“This 17 year old vintage port is pleasantly mellow, complex and ripe for drinking straight away. The presentation box also includes a rather smart port funnel, to trap any sediment when you decant it, and it’s perfect for enjoying with a Christmas cheese selection.”

Fonseca is one of the great Port Houses and they released their first ever vintage port in 1840. Like in Champagne, each house has a distinctive style that they hang their hat on. Fonsecca’s signature is this – wines with richness, lovely fleshy mouth-feel and the ability to age for decades whilst retaining the vibrancy of youthful fruitiness.

Not every vintage is declared, so vintage wines are only made in the very best years. 1996 wasn’t deemed to be up there with the legendary 1977 vintage for example, but the team at Fonseca have done a wonderful job, firstly in the vineyard, where all wine starts and then finally in the winery after the harvest. They were a brave bunch too and toughed out the rain that swept through the region during the middle of September resisting the urge to pick! It paid off as warm weather returned and the grapes reached peak ripeness!

You must decant this wine carefully to get the best from it, as there will be a bit of sediment. A port which has dense cherry fruit, layers of spice, lifted notes of cooked plums. There is a lovely combination of power and elegance that really is amazing. This really is the perfect wine to go with a cheeseboard, chutney and a selection of crackers. There’s no cheese that won’t work so go for it!


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