Since 1969, restaurant, hotel, travel & other witty reviews by a handpicked, worldwide team of discerning professionals—and your views, too.

Top Rated Port, Sherry and Madeira

Quinta de la Rosa's vineyards on the Douro River near Pinhao

The Best Fortified Wines in the World

Port is a sweet, fortified wine made by adding brandy during fermentation. Although most Ports are red, less common white varieties are also in existence. While true Port is produced exclusively in the Douro Valley, Portugal, Port wines are now produced all over the world, in a wide variety of styles. Port is conventionally intended to be enjoyed as an after meal digestif, alongside dessert.

Similarly, Sherry is a white wine also fortified with brandy that can be either sweet or dry, varying in color from light yellow to dark amber. Sherry varieties include fino, amontillado and oloroso. Like true Port, true Sherry is made in a specific geographic region — Jerez, Spain, from which its name is derived. Sherry is typically enjoyed as an aperitif.

Below are the best Ports, Sherries and Madeiras we've tasted, starting with our highest rated wines.

 

Dow's
40 Years Old Tawny Porto
Douro, Portugal
15.5/20Masterfully aged in oak casks, this fine amber port seduces with warm aromas of nuts, raisins and vanilla; On the palate, flavors of dried fruits and walnuts lead to a long complex finish.
$162 (750 ml)

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Taylor Fladgate
2009 Vintage Porto
Douro, Portugal
15.5/20This complex, masculine port is well-defined, with a dense mouthfeel and firm tannins.
$110 (750 ml)

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Fonseca
2009 Vintage Port
Douro, Portugal
15/20 With good texture and flavors of blackcurrant, this vintage promises an excellent capability to age well.

$110 (750 ml)

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Graham's
20 Year Old Tawny Port
Douro, Portugal
15/20 A nutty flavor and pale brick color. Can be served chilled in warm weather.

$57 (750 ml)

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Williams & Humbert
Dry Sack Solera Especial Oloroso 15 Year Sherry
Jerez, Spain
15/20 This blend of 78 percent Oloroso and 22 percent Pedro Ximenez is well-balanced and pairs perfectly with desserts.

$27 (750 ml)

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Blandy's
5 Year Old Alvada Madeira
Madeira, Portugal
14.5/20 This golden-colored fortified wine offers a bouquet of dried fruits, toffee and spice on the nose and is rich and full-bodied on the palate.

$20 (500 ml)

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Croft
2009 Vintage Port
Douro, Portugal
14.5/20 Feminine and fruity, with flavors of cherry, blackberry and even tropical fruits, this vintage port finishes silky smooth.

$75 (750 ml)

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Dow's
20 Year Old Tawny Port
Douro, Portugal
14.5/20 Walnut-brown in color, it features nutty and raisiny flavor and a strong structure.

$56 (750 ml)

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Dutcher Crossing
2007 Port
Dry Creek Valley, California
14.5/20 A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and 168-proof brandy, this Port-style wine boasts heady fruit aromas and complex flavors that are sweet, but not cloying.

$32 (375 ml)

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Ramos Pinto
1983 Vintage Port
Douro, Portugal
14.5/20A vintage port that makes a great gift, if you can bear to part with it.
$110 (750 ml)

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Smith Woodhouse
1985 Vintage Porto
Douro, Portugal
14.5/20This port displays violet aromas, firm tannins, and concentrated fruit flavors, making it a good pairing with a dark chocolate dessert during the holidays.
$82 (750 ml)

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Smith Woodhouse
1992 Late Bottled Vintage Port
Douro, Portugal
14.5/20A true-to-type nose with nice wood tones in the mouth and a solid structure that takes you to the finish.
$28 (750 ml)

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Smith Woodhouse
1994 Colheita Porto Single Year Tawny
Douro, Portugal
14.5/20Colheita is Portuguese for "harvest," and this rich vintage port, aged in oak casks for 12 years, exhibits a fine viscosity and a delightful sweetness without being cloying.
$46 (750 ml)

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V. Sattui
1998 Vintage Port
California
14.5/20A Port-style wine is made in the traditional manner from a not-so-traditional blend of grapes, it displays a bright acidity that keeps the sweetness and alcohol in balance.
$47 (750 ml)

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Warre's
Otima 10 Year Old Tawny Porto
Douro, Portugal
14.5/20A port far more sophisticated than its entry level price would suggest.
$26 (500 ml)

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Blandy's
5 Year Old Bual Madeira
Madeira, Portugal
14/20 Made from Boal (Bual) grapes, this amber-colored, five-year-old Madeira features aromas of toffee, vanilla and dried fruit, with a medium body, moderate sweetness and a slighlty citrusy finish.

$24 (750 ml)

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Blandy's
10 Year Old Malmsey Madeira
Madeira, Portugal
14/20 Made from Malmsey (Malvasia) grapes, this non-vintage fortified wine is full-bodied and sweet with rich caramel and dark fruit flavors.

$40 (750 ml)

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Blandy's
5 Year Old Sercial Madeira
Madeira, Portugal
14/20 This fortified white wine made from Sercial grapes features dry fruit flavors with hints of oak and almond.

$24 (750 ml)

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Blandy's
5 Year Old Verdelho Madeira
Madeira, Portugal
14/20 Golden-colored and full-bodied, it features a raisiny nose and fig, cedar and spice notes on the palate.

$24 (750 ml)

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Cockburn's
Special Reserve Porto
Douro, Portugal
14/20 Aged four to six years, this is a sweet, medium-bodied port packed with red fruit flavors and aromas.

$18 (750 ml)

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Graham's
"Six Grapes" Reserve Porto
Douro, Portugal
14/20 A very pleasant "raisiny" and jammy Port to pair with foie gras.

$23 (750 ml)

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Osborne
2000 Vintage Porto
Douro, Portugal
14/20 A young port with intense fruit notes, followed by a floral aroma.
$59 (750 ml)

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Quinta de la Rosa
Tonel Twelve '10 1/2 Yr Tawny' NV Port
Douro, Portugal
14/20A rich and intense port, it features dried fruit, fig and almond notes that would pair well with Gruyère or Manchego cheeses.

$35 (500 ml)

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Quinta de la Rosa
Vintage 2009 Port
Douro, Portugal
14/20This robust and ripe port boasts complex black cherry and cedar notes and a long, smooth finish. 5,000 bottles produced.

$45 (500 ml)

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Quinta do Vesuvio
2001 Vintage Port
Douro, Portugal
14/20This young port reveals black fruit and spice flavors, fine tannins and a sweet finish.

$58 (750 ml)

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Sandeman
2003 Vintage Porto
Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal
14/20 The 2003 Vintage Port from the House of Sandeman will surely tantalize your taste buds. If you want, you can wait to uncork, “but not much more than 15 years,” says George Sandeman.

$60 (750 ml)

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Sandeman
1999 Vau Vintage
Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal
14/20A port ready to be enjoyed on release, without sacrificing the complexity one expects.

$30 (750 ml)

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Sandeman
40 Years Old Tawny Porto
Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal
14/20Very deeply flavored, this complex port features vanilla on the nose and dried fruit and spice on the palate.

$130 (750 ml)

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Warre's
Warrior
Douro, Portugal
14/20Sourced from top vineyards, it features a full-bodied mouthfeel, complex fruit flavors and a long finish.

$18 (750 ml)

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Belle Vallée
2003 Pinot Noir Port
Willamette Valley, OR
13.5/20Handcrafted port you can drink now or for years to come.

$40 (375 ml)

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Blandy's
5 Year Old Malmsey Madeira
Madeira, Portugal
13.5/20 This spicy, dark brown Madeira displays nutty and toffee notes and a balanced, full-bodied mouthfeel.

$24 (750 ml)

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Dry Sack
Medium Sherry
Xerez, Spain
13.5/20Aged in oak casks for six years, this dry sherry boasts candied orange peel and almond on the nose leading to a slow, smooth finish.

$15 (750 ml)

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Harvey's
Reserve Rare Cream Sherry
Jerez, Spain

13.5/20This blend of oloroso, amontillado, fino and Pedro Ximénez sherries, aged from five to 30 years, boasts a richness and complexity lacking in Harvey's more popular Bristol Cream Sherry.
$15 (750 ml)

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Harvey's
FINO Light Sherry
Jerez, Spain

13.5/20This pale yellow sherry is smooth and dry, with a sharp nose and buttery finish. Serve with salted almonds and green olives.
$15 (750 ml)

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Justin Vineyards & Winery
2007 Obtuse
Paso Robles, CA
13.5/20This unfined and unfiltered American-style port, aged for ten months in French oak after being mixed with grape brandy, is very accessible, with a light aftertaste, and pairs well with chocolate desserts.

$26 (750 ml)

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Messina Hof Vineyards
2004 Paulo Port
Bryan, Texas
13.5/20This domestic port (aged in new French oak and new American oak for one year each) offers intense chocolate and cherry flavors.

$44 (750 ml)

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Quinta de la Rosa
Tawny NV Port
Douro, Portugal
13.5/20A robust port, it boasts dense dark fruit flavors and a slight burn on the finish.

$18 (500 ml)

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Sandeman
20 Years Old Tawny Porto
Douro, Portugal
13.5/20A combination of dried apricot, honey, spices and vanilla creates a complex wine that unfolds smoothly in the mouth.

$50 (750 ml)

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Stone Hill Winery

2004 Port
Hermann, Missouri
13.5/20Made from the Norton varietal, this dense Port serves well with nuts and flavorful cheeses.

$19 (500 ml)

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Warre's
Otima 20 Year Old Tawny
Douro, Portugal
13.5/20 Aged in seasoned oak casks for two decades, this port features nutty aromas and a long finish.

$45 (500 ml)

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Wisdom & Warter
Extra Amontillado Sherry
Jerez, Spain
13.5/20 Orange gold in color, this sherry displays aromas of hazelnut and is dry on the palate, with a warm finish.

$12

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Dow’s
2004 Late Bottled Vintage Port
Douro, Portugal
13/20 This sweet, jammy port, aged in seasoned oak casks for at least four years, features blackberry on the nose and palate and a long finish.

$21 (750 ml)

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Harvey's
Orange Aperitif
Jerez, Spain
13/20Combining Bristol Cream Sherry with natural orange essence, this amber-colored sherry is sweet and richly-flavored, with just the slightest hint of citrus.
$15 (750 ml)

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Hawk and Horse Vineyards
2006 Latigo
Lake County, CA
13/20Made from Cabernet Sauvignon fortified with 142-proof Germain-Robin brandy, this Port-style wine features rich, round flavors of black cherry, black currants and damson plum with a hint of chocolaty caramel.
$45 (375 ml)

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Poças
Tawny
Douro, Portugal
13/20Aged in oak for three years, this fruit-forward budget port works well for everyday drinking.
$10 (750 ml)

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Sandeman
Founders Reserve Porto
Douro, Portugal
13/20This inexpensive, fruity port has been aged for at least five years, and goes well with chocolate and cheese.
$17 (750 ml)

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Solis Winery
Port California
Santa Clara Valley, CA
13/20This port-style wine is sweet and smooth, with rich raspberry, plum and cherry flavors.
$18 (500 ml)

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Warre's
2003 Vintage Porto
Douro, Portugal
13/20 A light port good with blue cheese or for sipping on a cold winter's night.

$84 (750 ml)

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Dow's
Trademark
Douro, Portugal
12.5/20 This inexpensive port features strawberry on the nose and palate.

$20 (750 ml)

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Poças
Ruby
Douro, Portugal
12.5/20 This full-bodied port features sweet berry flavors that would pair well with soft, mild cheeses.

$10 (750 ml)

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