Churchill’s Port was founded by Johnny Graham, scion of the famed Graham family, in 1981. His family’s own company had been acquired in 1970 by Symington Family Estates (Graham’s, Warre’s, Dow’s, Cockburn’s, Smith Woodhouse, and others), and at the time he struck out on his own he was establishing the first new Port house in half a century. To this day, Churchill’s remains one of the most significant boutique houses outside the umbrella of Symington Family Estates and Taylor Fladgate (Taylor’s, Fonseca, Croft, and others.) All Churchill’s grapes are sourced from Grade-A (the highest in the Douro’s rating scheme) vineyards, and all grapes receive ‘vintage’ treatment at the outset: crushed and vinified in granite lagares, where they undergo the time-honored and costly process of human foot-treading for extraction. A key factor in Churchill’s relatively dry style is a longer-than-normal fermentation time, which also means that the proportion of alcohol from added brandy is lower than normal in these wines.
While ‘regular’ vintage port, the pinnacle of any house’s production, is typically bottled after a maximum of 30 months in wood or steel (thus retaining a fresher, less oxidative fruit character, but often requiring decades of bottle age to tame the wine’s fierce structure), a parallel style of Late-Bottled Vintage developed. Hailing from vintage-quality grapes, these wines spend 4+ years in wood, retaining a good deal of vintage port’s character while being effectively ready to drink on release.
The beloved tawny style hails from wines from non-declared vintages that, after blending, spend very long periods aging oxidatively in wood into the nutty, mature, ready-to-drink beauties that, to many drinkers, epitomize port. (Age statements on tawny ports indicate an average age, since wines are blended from multiple vintages.) Churchill’s 10 Year Tawny Port is a field blend of Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz, Tinto Cão, Tinta Barroca, Touriga Franca and Tinta Francisca. It’s fermented in granite lagares and fortified with neutral grape spirit to 19.5% alcohol once it reaches 104 g/L of residual sugar. Long aging in wood before bottling at an average age of ten years. Filtered for sediment.
Rich brick red color with flashes of amber. Elegant, subtle and complex on the nose, with expressive notes of dry fruits and hints of orange peel. Full on the mouth, this 10 years Old Tawny Port shows excellent freshness, allowing it to finish long and persistent.