A Special Drop: Ascension Wineries ‘Fortitude’ Tawny Port

A few weeks ago I wrote about a visit I made to Ascension Wine Estate in October with my best friend, and the fun I had tasting some of their wines. There was one in particular that I really loved: their tawny port, ‘Fortitude’.

Why did I love this particular wine so much? Simply put, to me it tasted like Christmas in a bottle. It was sweet. It was smooth. It had flavours of raisins, marmalade, spices. At $48 for a 500ml bottle it wasn’t cheap, but I decided to splash out on a bottle to open with Dad at Christmas, which is exactly what we did.

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Ascension’s ‘Fortitude’ tawny port.

Dad can’t drink much these days on account of his health, so he was only able to enjoy a tiny drop, but it was enough for him to remark on the similarity between ‘Fortitude’ and the Harvey’s Bristol Cream sherry which was a staple of our Sunday lunches when I was growing up in England. As soon as he mentioned it, I recognised it, but to my mind the Fortitude is richer and fruitier than the Harvey’s Bristol Cream.

Port wine takes its name from Portugal, where the first port wines were made. It is produced by stopping fermentation while there is still plenty of residual sugar in the wine through the addition of a neutral grape spirit known as aguardente, or sometimes brandy. This means that the wine remains sweet and also ups the alcohol content, usually to anywhere between 18% and 23% abv. Port is then aged in barrels: Fortitude is aged for four years, but it can be aged (in barrel and bottle) for up to a century.

Did you enjoy a special drink over Christmas? If so, what was it?

Always drink responsibly. One standard drink of wine is approximately 100ml (3.3 fl oz). The New Zealand Ministry of Health recommends that women consume no more than 2 standard drinks a day, and no more than 10 standard drinks a week, and that men consume no more than 3 standard drinks a day and no more than 15 standard drinks a week (note that this is slightly lower than the limits recommended by the World Health Organisation). The World Health Organisation recommends that women abstain from alcohol during pregnancy. In New Zealand the legal drinking age is 18. Do not drink if you are under the legal age to do so in your country. It is illegal to drive while under the influence of alcohol.

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