After the maturation process in the big vats, Tawny-Ports are transferred into smaller casks, the pipas, where they continue their maturation-process. Due to the higher oxidation and contact with the wood of the pipas, Tawny Ports do change their colour from deep-red to a lighter brownish (tawny) colour. The other part of the Tawny-side worth looking out for are the Colheita (coll-jay-tah) or “Vintage Tawny”. These ports reflect the unique characteristics of the respective year and develop enormously complex aromas.
The ageing potential of the Tawny Port depends on the original quality of the wine. During the period of maturation in the pipas, Tawny Ports change their aromas from a full fruity ruby style to a nutty and dry-fruit style which becomes more intense with the longer ageing. An aged Tawny, especially a 40 year old Tawny, is always an attention-grabber. Besides the Colheitas the allowed categories for the aged tawnies are 10, 20, 30 and (over) 40 years of age.
Tawnies up to 20 years of age are either served chilled as an aperitif or slightly chilled (16° C) to accompany deserts. The 30 year and 40 year old Tawnies are solely served slighty chilled after the meal. A Tawny Port could well be served at tea time. Always check the bottling-date on a Tawny as these wines will not develop further once they are bottled.