W & J Graham’s “Six Grapes” Reserve Port
Review: W & J Graham’s “Six Grapes” Reserve Port 87/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Published on April 12, 2013
The subject of this review, is a bottle of Graham’s Six Grapes Reserve Port Wine. Six Grapes is one of the original Port blends (or marques) from Graham’s. It is, you could say, the flagship Reserve Port Wine produced by the company (or lodge). According to the Graham’s website, only the grapes from the finest vineyards are used to produce this marque. The distinctive depiction of grape bunches on the bottle is taken from the identification symbols long used in the Graham’s lodge to identify the wines destined to make up the Six Grapes blend. The wine is sourced from the same vineyards (essentially Quinta dos Malvedos and Quinta das Lages) that contribute to Graham’s famed Vintage Ports in ‘declared’ years. This means that it will resemble Graham’s Vintage Port in that it has a similar rich and full-bodied style. However unlike the Vintage Port, Six Grapes is a blend of different Vintages which have been aged a relatively short period of time (between 3 and 4 years).
Unlike unfiltered Late Bottled Vintage Port Wine or Vintage Port Wine, The reserve style Port from Graham’s is not meant to be aged in the bottle before consumption. It is essentially a style of Port which in stature sits between the classic Ruby Port and the filtered Late Bottled Vintage Port. Some websites have suggested that it sits closer to the Late Bottled Vintage style of Port than to the Ruby style, but I find that idea hard to reconcile with a Port Wine that is essentially finished in the bottle and will not be improved in my aging room.
In the Bottle 4/5
A bottle shot of “Six Grapes” is pictured to the right. I have to admit that a little disappointment always creeps in when I look at the Port wine bottles on my wine rack in the cold room. They are unfortunately rather plain-looking. It is no different for the Graham’s Six Grapes which arrives in a rather average looking dark green bottle.
On the positive side, the Port bottle does have a solid corked closure, and the back label tells the story about how the grapes are selected for this particular marque, and indicates (as I explained above) that this particular Reserve port is not filtered which would mean it is ready to drink without any further aging.
In the Glass 22/25
The Six Grapes Port Wine looks luscious in the glass. It carries deep red tones at the center of the glass, and a rich plum coloured crest at the top. The aroma has depth, full of the smells of sweetened ripe dark fruit. I am thinking dark ripe BC cherries, wild blackberries and plump purple plums. Subtle notes of raisin, dates and cocoa lurk underneath, but it is definitely the ripe cherries and blackberries that take center stage. As you allow the wine to breathe a little, the underlying dry fruit gains a little momentum, yet the aroma retains its youthful vibrancy.
In the Mouth 43.5/50
The “SIX GRAPES” Port is my go to Port Wine for special occasions. (I always have a bottle on hand.) It has a full robust flavour full of ripe cherries, fresh blackberries and dark plums. With these rich flavours of fresh fruit and berries, hints of drier dark fruit mingle freely. Raisins, hints of dates and dry currants all seem to be in the flavour profile if you look for them and even a few scattered tea leaves seem to be implied.
The full fruit flavour makes this an easy-going Port that doesn’t demand a lot from the wine aficionado. The flavours develop quickly in the glass and the flavour remains robust even if the bottle has been open for a few days. Because the wine has been aged for 3 to 4 years the flavour also features hints of tobacco, a mild influence of chocolate and some oak spices. There is some acidity and the wine seems to have just enough tannin to pucker the mouth slightly while remaining easy to drink.
In the Throat 13/15
The exit is really satisfying. There is a youthful vibrancy stemming from the flavours of fresh fruit which I really enjoy. I taste a nice fade of chocolate and darker fruit at the ending; but it is the freshness of the wine that always makes me reach for a second glass.
My Final Impressions 4.5/5
The Six Grapes is better than almost every other Ruby Port I have tried, and it rivals the flavour of many LBV and Vintage Port Wines. As such it is a great choice for those who do not have a cold room nor the inclination to further age their wine after purchase.
The robust fruit flavours and those hints of chocolate seem to be coaxed out into a further reveal when served with chocolate. I have also enjoyed this wine as an afternoon indulgence served with a combination of sharp cheddar and Edam cheeses. In this case the rich ripe fruit seems to take center stage when paired with the cheese.
If you are interested in some comparative reviews, here is a link to all of my Port Wine Reviews!
Note: My Wine Scores are computed in the same manner as my scores for distilled spirits. This means that my total score out of 100 is generally lower than what you would see in popular wine rating magazines. (Those magazines appear to have a system which scores almost all wines at 85 points or more.)
My system which is described below and you may (loosely) interpret my scores as follows:
0-25 A wine with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49 Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59 You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69 Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74 A mediocre wine which will excite no one.
75-79 You may begin to serve this to friends, still rather unexciting.
80-84 Enjoyment begins here.
85-89 Very good to excellent!
90-94 You may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+ I haven’t met this one yet…but I want to.