Graham’s Six Grapes Port is one of our longest standing signature wines. Strictly – by IVDP standards – it is a Reserve Ruby. In fact, it is something much much more. Most Port producers’ Reserve Ruby ports are blended from the wines left over after the selection of the best lots from each harvest for vintage, LBV and other premium styles of port. Not Six Grapes.
It is a common misconception that the Six Grapes name refers to six varieties of grapes in the blend, but in fact “Six Grapes” has always been Graham’s own in-house designation for its highest quality wines. Before leaving the Douro, Graham’s wines have traditionally been classified in terms of quality level on a scale of one to six grapes, with “Six Grapes” being the designation for wines of the highest quality. Upon arrival in the lodge in Gaia, the Six Grapes symbol has always been marked on the casks containing the best quality lots: potential vintage wines.
Eighteen months after a harvest, we make our final selection of wines to be blended for our classic Graham’s or Quinta dos Malvedos Vintage Ports. Wines de-classified from the final Vintage blends are then designated for use in Six Grapes. This means all the wines are of the highest quality and originated in our own A-rated Douro quintas. The wines will then continue to be aged for up to two further years in immense wooden balseiros to soften their tannins while preserving their intense fresh blackberry fruit character.
When ready to bottle, the wine is fined (to remove any sediment), but never filtered, in order to maintain the richness and complexity which characterises Graham’s estate grown ports. The result is an extraordinary ruby port which tastes like a young Vintage: intense aromas and palate of fresh fruit flavours, typically black fruit, plums, perhaps cherry, with a slightly exotic nose (aniseed, and the esteva, or rock-rose note typical of Graham’s) and incredible richness, sweetness and balance, which you can continue to savour on the long, clean finish. Classic Graham’s flavour and quality.
The Six Grapes name and symbol made it first appearance on the bottle at the end of the nineteenth century and has been in almost continuous use ever since. A notable landmark for the wine was its appearance on the first class wine list on the maiden voyage of the Queen Mary in May, 1936. This honourable selection was repeated when Cunard launched the Queen Mary II in January 2004. Today, perhaps partly due to having successfully ‘crossed the pond’ so many times, Six Grapes has become one of the most popular Ports on top restaurant wine lists across North America.
Six Grapes port is the perfect accompaniment to very dark chocolate (70% is our favourite) or rich, dark chocolate desserts. It also works fantastically well as a counterpoint to strong tangy cheeses such as Stilton or Aged Cheddar. For this reason, you can often find it by the glass on restaurant menus – ask, and be sure they serve it in a large glass so you can properly savour those aromas. It is also a favourite of wine critics as an affordable, every-day alternative to Vintage port, particularly at holidays, for example, Tom Cannavan has picked Six Grapes for Easter as his wine of the week choice to accompany all those wonderful chocolates this weekend.
Do you enjoy Six Grapes? Leave us a message and tell us where in the world you are, and what you serve with it – we would love to hear about your favourite food pairings.