Port and cheese is just so quintessentially British isn't it? And it's never more so than at Christmas time when sales of both sky-rocket! Putting the festive tradition aside for a minute, with the style ranging from white Port, through aged Tawny styles and onto single vineyard and vintage Ports, there's no reason why Port shouldn't be consumed at any time of year! And with the wealth of home-grown cheeses available here in the UK there's a combination out there for anyone during any season. But never mind my Port evangelism, it's Christmas! So what am I putting with what this year?
Quinta do Noval Extra Dry White Port
Pair With: Wensleydale on Festive Spiced Fruits & Pecan Toast for Cheese
Although the label denominates this as an "Extra Dry White Port", this is slightly misleading as the word "extra" actually means "not as" in this instance. So this Port although not intensely sweet, is far from "dry" in style. Chill it down and serve with generous slices of Wensleydale cheese. The off-dry nature of the Port balances with the dry, crumbly texture of the cheese.
Quinta do Noval Fine Ruby Port
Paired With: Cheshire Cheese Co Black Bob Mature Cheddar on Fig & Honey Crackers
Ruby Ports are the "entry level" for a number of Port shippers. With Noval though, the Ruby Port is far from entry level. In fact it is every bit as good as the Late Bottled Vintage (LBV) Ports of many of the other Port shippers. This is ripe and sweet red fruit flavoured with layers of spice. The depth of style works really well with full flavoured hard cheeses and the Black Bob mature Cheddar from Cheshire Cheese Co, served on fig crackers is a great combination.
Quinta do Noval Unfiltered LBV
Paired With: Colston Bassett Stilton on Walnut & Honey Crackers
Port and Stilton will always be the classic combination. And why not pair a fantastic Port with the multi award winning Colston Bassett Stilton? The LBV is aged in barrel for 5 years before bottling and is unfiltered to preserve more of the flavours in the wine. Layers of black fruit compote, figs, damsons, all spice and red currants in the Port marry so nicely with that salty, tangy but subtly creamy style that Colston Bassett has. The walnut crackers just add another dimension to the combination.
Quinta do Noval 10 Year Old Tawny Port
Paired With: Perl Las Blue Cheese on Cherry, Almond & Linseed Toast for Cheese
Tawny Ports, like white Ports, are best served chilled. This 10yo Tawny from Noval tastes like a bowl of dried figs, prunes, damsons and walnuts all smothered in lashings of thick cream and given a rather large sprinkling of cinnamon. Perl Las cheese from Wales is subtly blue, so not as intense as the Colston Bassett and as such is a much better combination with the Tawny style of Port. The chewy, sweet and nutty toast for cheese are a lovely vehicle to enjoy this combination with.
Quinta do Noval 20 Year Old Tawny Port
Paired With: Cornish Yarg on Charcoal Squares
The extra ageing of this 20yo Tawny from Noval has softened the colour a bit but intensified the flavours and aromas. Think 10yo Tawny if it started training for a body-building competition. A behemoth of a Port. This deserves a less intense flavoured cheese so as not to detract from what's going on in the glass. The smooth and silky Cornish Yarg on the delicately sweet charcoal crackers is a perfect match here. So there you have it! We've a lovely range of Noval Port in store and here online and are big fans of all of their ports. We've also got the cheese to go with it in our famous cheese fridges in store, but our cheese isn't available online. So you'll just have to come and see us! Until then, praise the baby cheeses, Dr Gray