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Uncorked: A sleek new look changes the game for Warre’s Otima

Published: Saturday, June 22, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

Warre’s Otima 10 Year Old Tawny Port is a game changer. 

From a port house that has crafted bold, powerful and structured ports for more than 300 years, Warre’s proved it’s possible to innovate and expose a new generation to its products. Otima has a sleek new look. From the color of the wine to the labeling on the bottle, it’s an enticing post-modern creation that offers port drinkers a brand new experience. 

Winemaker Spotlight

Dominic Symington enjoys a challenge. 

Port houses are steeped in century-old tradition. The hearty, fortified wines conjure images of friends locked in deep conversations about existential matters or the origins of the universe on a winter night with gently falling snow, all as another log is added to a glowing fire. 

Otima shakes that image with its lighter color and approachable flavor.

“To take a very traditional wine category and make it more contemporary was a challenge,” said Symington, the Director of Symington Family Estates. “We looked to take traditional Tawny Port and show off the color, fresh aromatics and lifted flavors. We wanted to make these delicious wines more contemporary, to allow our customers to enjoy them sitting on a deck in the evening enjoying conversation and not necessarily having to sit at a formal table.

“We want to deformalize the port moment and make it a pleasure rather than a formality - wines like Otima are so absolutely delicious they should be enjoyed in casual situations.”

With a clear bottle that lets its ruby color stand out, Otima is in a modern package. The nose is crisp, beautiful and immediately warms. Plums and dates are apparent when the bottle is opened. There’s a nutty flavor on the palate and even a hint of dried flowers that linger through a very long finish. 

Yet, everything is in balance, because Otima remains crisp with clear flavors that aren’t weighed down by a massive frame that make some ports seem like a winter time after-dinner drink.

Even if the color isn’t vital to Symington, it’s visually stunning. Made from traditional Douro Valley varieties, Otima was great when paired with brie, walnuts and a raspberry compote at a recent dinner I hosted. 

“The wines are beautifully complex, very versatile, can be kept after open for a bit longer than Vintage and don’t require decanting, and served chilled they are absolutely sublime,” said Symington, whose family is in its fourth generation in the port industry. “The clear bottle was actually a relatively easy decision. The color of the wine is so attractive, why not show it off?

“The [slightly] lighter color isn’t really significant; although some 10 Year Tawny’s tend to be quite ‘pink’ we prefer a slightly more aged profile on our wines. The classical grape varietals are used but we look for lifted aromatics and freshness.”

The new look Otima provided is just a starting point.  

“We have subsequently developed a new presentation for Warre’s sister company Graham’s with a renewed Tawny range in clear glass bottles,” Symington said. “We have again worked on the blends to make them a little fuller in flavor compared to Otima but to accent the freshness in the wine.

“We have also have some wines specifically targeted to the richer, and in particular chocolate-based desserts, or for pure hedonistic chocoholics. Graham’s Six Grapes is a perfect example of this. This is a wine based on Graham’s Vintage Port lots that are not finally bottled as Vintage but aged for an extra year or so, so as to slightly soften the tannins.”

What to Buy

Warre’s Otima 10 Year Old Tawny Port, ($26) 

Excellent for summer nights on the deck with friends. A crisp interpretation of port that is a great introduction to a classic wine.

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