Cockburn’s Tails of the Unexpected White Heights Fine White Porto

Deep gold color; pineapple, papaya, tropical fruit, yellow plum, pear, honeysuckle, drip of honey, vanilla on the nose and palate.

Cockburn’s Tails of the Unexpected White Heights Fine White Porto

Drier than you expect from a porto. Cockburn’s uses the top 10% of grapes from the high-altitude vineyards of the Favaios sub-region of the Douro Valley, which results in freshness and excellent acidity that balances the alcohol. It does not come across too hot or with smarmy lushness. Clean and crisp—for a porto—but still rich and sweet. Winemakers are Charles Symington, Nuno Moreira, and Manuel Rocha. 19% ABV

Cockburn’s prides itself on being cocky. The website notes: “Cockburn’s has always questioned the so-called ‘rules’ for making port. Back in 1815, Robert and John Cockburn, two brothers from Scotland, bypassed the stuffy merchant’s fair in Porto and bought the very best grapes directly from farmers upriver in the Douro. The look on their faces…”

Cockburn’s grape provider John Henry Smithes, the “Cowboy of the Douro”

Those grapes were touriga nacional planted in the upper Douro by John Henry Smithes—the “Cowboy of the Douro.” The region once, according to the website, “was considered out of bounds for respectable producers, and which became known as Cockburn’s Country. Or as we like to call it—home.”

Grape’s for Cockburn’s products today are grown up and down the Douro Valley, the world’s oldest demarcated wine region and a UNESCO-protected landscape, especially at Quinta dos Canais, Cockburn’s “home in the region.” The Douro micro-climate and south-facing terraces help produce the intensely sweet grapes needed for high quality porto.

In addition, the website notes: “Our focus on the future has led to Cockburn’s gaining B Corporation certification, which means our business is internationally recognised as having the highest environmental and social standards. A pretty big deal for us.”

Cockburn’s today is part of Symington Family Estates. Symington controls Cockburn’s, Graham’s, Warre’s, Dow’s, Smith Woodhouse, Gould Campbell, Quarles Harris, and Martinez—by far the world’s strongest porto portfolio. They have the largest vineyard ownership in the Douro.

Symington family–Johnny, Rupert, Charles, Paul, Dominic

Cockburn’s Tails of the Unexpected White Heights Fine White Porto is ideal for a mixer, served chilled as a warm-weather refresher, good for any event or season. This is a drier style, but still sweet enough to serve as a dessert wine. Excellent presentation of fruit without being too alcoholic—and the bright acidity really works here. Fresh and intriguing. Not your everyday porto. Drink straight or for a warm weather drink mix 1/3 White Heights with 2/3 tonic over ice, garnish with lemon slice and sprig of mint. Pairs with salty snacks; appetizers; cured meats; dark chocolate; sweet desserts; soft cheeses. After opening, enjoy for up to six weeks. $26-30

Cockburn’s website

Early Cockburn’s cellar