Colheita Port vs Tawny Port

Recently I’ve been having a number of different 10 and 20 year Tawny Ports from different producers and a few nights ago I popped a 1982 Krohn Colheita, which was bottled in 2007. My relatively limited knowledge combined with wikipedia tells me that this should be somewhat similar to a 20+ year Tawny right? Well - not so much. What should I really be expecting from Colheita in comparison to Tawny Port of similar age? I also have a bottle of 1966 Krohn Colheita (bottled in 2006) so I am wondering what to expect from that as well.

Port guys? You out there?

Back when I was working at Beltramo’s, some 10+ years ago, the Krohn guy came in and poured us the '66, '63 and '58 Colheitas. They were all some of the greatest Ports I’ve tasted, and if I had to choose I would have put the '63 ahead of the other two. This was 10 years ago, and they would have been bottled in '95 or '96 at that point. I can only imagine how they would taste with another 10 years in barrel.

The Port trade recommends that Tawny Port “with an indication of age” or those that are 10/20/30/40 years old … should be consumed soon after bottling with the bottling date appearing on the label. I agree with that but know numerous Port enthusiasts who believe that these types of Tawny Ports actually improve in the bottle. While I am not one to tell someone what they are experiencing when drinking Ports, it is certainly not my experience.

Colheitas are equally as controversial. Some feel that they don’t age once bottled and others (me included) feel that there are some producers whose Colheitas definitely age well and improve in the bottle.

Now to your question:

A 20 year old Tawny Port is a blend of many lots of wine from various young and old vintages. Blending in many different vintages to achieve a Tawny with an average age that typically is at least 20 years old, provides great complexity. It is also much easier to achieve a consistent house style in this type of Port and you can get to know a Port shipper’s Tawny style over time, pretty easily.

OTOH, a Colheita (col-YATE-ah) with approximately 20 years of age (is it wood aged or bottle aged or both?) is very different. Colheita is a specific and regulated category of Port, which is wood-aged for a minimum of 7 years before bottling, or it’s allowed to continue aging in cask for as long as the producer cares to leave it to age. It MUST be the produce from a single harvest. Therefore, it gains its tawny color and flavor profile from its time spent in wood. There is almost no link between the quality of a Colheita and the year from which it is harvested. Great Colheitas can and often do come from off-vintages, although there are certainly exceptions. But some of the great Colheita years like 1937, 1938, 1940, 1952 and 1957 … just to name a handful … prove the point. Still there are some stunning Colheitas from very solid vintages such as 1890, 1900, 1912, 1927, 1935, 1955, 1963 and 1966, as examples of generally declared Vintage Port years where great Colheitas were also produced. In my experience, outcomes can best be predicted by going with solid producers of Colheita, rather than the year the Port comes from.

Complexity is a personal thing. In most cases, I’d rather drink a top 20 year old Tawny Port from a shipper that I really enjoy, than a Colheita of the same age. I do not believe that there are too many Colheitas which really show great character at 7-20 years of age, but this is a personal preference and your mileage may vary. I am certainly not saying that it is impossible to find a very fine Colheita of around 20 years of age. However, if you should have any Colheitas with 40 or more years of age and especially over 60 years of age … that is when they REALLY start to develop extraordinary character and the serious Colheita aficionado typically is drinking Colheitas in this range, if not older.

Thanks for the detailed response Roy.

I do enjoy this 82 Krohn quite a bit but find myself probably preferring the Taylor Fladgate 20 year Tawny over it. Now that 66 Krohn that was bottled in 2006… that’s something I really look forward to.

Thanks Roy. I think I’ve made Andy explain that to me two or three times now and yet it still hasn’t completely sunk in. [blink.gif]

Thanks for the explanation Roy, I’ve always enjoyed reading your post and I’m also glad to see your posting with us Berserkers…

Enjoy the '66 Krohn and let us know how you like it.

It’s my pleasure to post here too. [berserker.gif]

Roy, always great to read your “tutorials”…Glad you’re posting here. I found the quote above very interesting. This is not something that I would have thought at all, but very good to know.


Glad to be of help. Yeah, i know it can really be confusing as there are lots of different “categories” of Port that are strictly regulated by the IVDP with all kinds of rules and nuances that confuse.

Good Stuff Roy, I’m starting to develop more of a taste for port and that helps make some things I’ve been guessing at more clear.


Any more Port questions, please … ask away. I am glad to do my best to provide whatever info I can share on Port, Madeira or Douro wines.

And for those of you in the L.A / O.C. areas drop me a line and lets open some Port. No better way to learn than that [drinkers.gif]

Twist my arm. [whistle2.gif]

You are my new best friend… [give_heart.gif]

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YAHOO! More people to drink Port with [cheers.gif] [drinkers.gif]


WTF does that have to do with Port? You been drinking that funny koolaid again?

We finished off the 82 Krohn Colheita last night. It took about 3 weeks to go through the bottle. I kept wanting to compare it to other 20 year tawny port that I have had but it’s just not the same. The problem is that I also have a hard time describing the differences. I think its just one of those things you need to compare yourself. I think perhaps I need to sit down with Roy and get a lesson. [blush2.gif] [friends.gif]


That’s easy, put together a group of Port lovers or those looking to learn … and we’ll talk. I am doing that for a group this coming weekend flying diagonally across the country, to share some knowledge and enjoy a 14 bottle horizontal of 1963 Vintage Ports. But it doesn’t need to be that lavish.

hmm… how many make a group? Probably more then just my wife and I…