Good Port doesn’t usually come cheap, but there’s plenty of value to be had if you know where to look.
Newer wine consumers often balk at the price of Port, but there’s no argument – it really is great value.
Port tends to cost a little more than other wines, but that’s not always the case. And, anyway, the extra layout is easily justified by the expensive and time-consuming process of actually making it.
The grapes are grown in one of the oldest demarcated winegrowing regions of Europe (it became what would eventually become known as an appellation in 1756, the same year a 22-year-old George Washington was fighting for Britain in the Seven Years’ War) and transporting the wine can be a long and expensive exercise. Then there’s the spirit that is added to stop the fermentation before all the grape sugar converts to alcohol, the storage (around two years for Vintage Port) and the additional taxes sparked by the higher alcohol.
Those extra costs are also the reasons people love Port, however. Lush, concentrated flavors and the almost endless development potential that fortification brings are big attractions for wine lovers. And that love is growing. After hitting the skids in 2005, the past decade has seen Port volumes increase again as more people fall under its attractive spell.
It’s certainly the top fortified wine in the world by sales and by interest. It’s compatriot Madeira also has an often-rabid fan club, but port carries all before it when it comes to fortified wines. Certainly no other fortified wine style on our database comes anywhere close for searches or the number of offers listed.
So, let’s look at value. At first glance, the list below isn’t an obvious advertisement for the glories of Port as a value wine, but it’s all about context. The quality of the wines listed and their incredible longevity render them much more attractive to collectors than many table wine styles, even if the initial outlay is superficially higher.
At Wine-Searcher, we have an algorithm that ranks our best value wines, but it can be confusing and not always in line with what people perceive as “value”. For this series of best value stories, we work with a more direct point-to-dollar ratio for a simplified “bang for buck” scale than our standard algorithm. Simply dividing the aggregated critic score by the price gives a value factor and the higher the factor the better the value – a kind of points-per-dollar scale. The higher the value factor, the more points per dollar. All the wines have a minimum critic score of 91.
Usually, when we run our superlative lists, we don’t take vintage into account, but since vintage variation affects the score so much, we concentrate on individual vintages of wines for our best-value lists.
Best Value Ports on Wine-Searcher:
Obviously, there’s quite a spread of value factors on that list, but the top wine deserves a special mention. It has a score of 94 and a global average retail price of just $10, so it’s one of the best-value wines that we’ve come across in this entire series. That score, by the way, isn’t from some random local critic, either – it’s from Jancis Robinson, so it carries a bit of weight.
Elsewhere on the list, it’s pretty much business as usual, except for one notable omission. The last time we ran this list it contained three wines from Quinta do Noval, but this year’s has none. Instead, Quinta do Vesuvio adds another vintage to the list, and the Wine & Soul wines make their debut.
The other difference from the 2019 list is price. The last time we looked at Port, the global average prices ranged from $23 to $107, but this time round the prices start at $10 and top out at $88. Not only is Port selling more wine, but the quality stuff is actually getting cheaper, too.
Truly it’s an age of miracles.