Fonseca cellars aged its tawnies in the Douro rather than in Vila Nova de Gaia; the considerable difference in heat and humidity between these two areas lends Fonseca's Tawny Ports of age a very distinctive "baked" richness more reminiscent of butterscotch than of caramel. "Vintage character" is descriptive of a type of port blended from high quality reserve wines from a range of vintages, which, similar to late bottled vintage port, shows some of the characteristics of true vintage port. Most vintage character ports, which have only become widely commercialized since the 1950s, carry a brand name and vary widely in style from house to house.
Fonseca Bin #27 Port
Fonseca Bin No. 27 was created over a century ago for family consumption, and only released commercially in 1972. It is produced primarily from wines from Fonseca's own quintas in the Cima Corgo and thus shows an exceptional quality and consistency from year to year. Blended from reserve wines selected for their intense fruit character and depth of color, Fonseca Bin No. 27 spends four years in large wood vats prior to bottling. Although it may improve slightly with bottle age, Bin No. 27 is ready to consume when bottled. It does not require decanting, as a cold precipitation prior to bottling prevents any "crust" from forming. Fonseca Bin No. 27 is one of the most widely consumed vintage character ports in the United States, and Fonseca's standard bearer worldwide.
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Fonseca Tawny Port 20 Year Old
Fonseca Twenty Year Old Tawny Port is deep amber in color with russet highlights. Its superb bouquet is a complex marriage of ripe, plummy, mature fruit, warm spicy overtones of cinnamon and butterscotch and subtle oak nuances. Full-bodied and voluminous on the palate, its smooth, velvety texture is carried into a long clean, elegant finish. Tawny ports of age will not improve once bottled; they should be served at room temperature or barely cool at the end of a meal with nuts or not overly-sweet desserts.
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It was once observed that it is easier to make a fine vintage port than a fine old tawny. Forecasting a young wine's development up to four decades in the future; blending to preserve, initially, the wine's freshness over time and, later, the style of the final blend; and finally, the considerable investment in reserve wines required to maintain a consistent product (by law, three times annual sales), all demand an expertise that only years of experience can teach.