Vintage Port Dinner at the Manchester Tennis and Racquet Club

The Manchester Tennis and Racquet Club is one of the few places where you can play the game of Real Tennis in the UK. Not that I play, although I have tried. I am a member though and the club does have a very decent cellar, ably stocked and maintained by member Arnold Smith. Arnold asked me to lead a vintage Port dinner with wines generously provided by members of the club from their own cellars. This was a truly remarkable evening where each of the wines stood out  in its own right. 

Warre 1966 ****

Bottled by Berry Bros. : pink-tawny in colour; lovely open, fresh milk chocolate aromas; elegant, fresh berry fruit on the palate, spicy tannins, elegant rather than powerful. Still very good with medicinal cherry sweetness on the finish. 18

Graham 1963 *****

Good, deep youthful colour; tight-knit powerful nose, dark chocolate concentration, with more to give; similarly rich, tight-knit and powerful, spicy - peppery tannins and a cast iron superstructure. Sweet, complete and very fine. 19   

Dow 1955 *****

Still very deep in colour, only just browning on the rim; extraordinaily fresh, powerful, tight-knit bitter chocolate aromas, minty fruit; very fine and focused, dry in characteristic Dow style, remarkably fresh ripe, minty fruit. Absolutely delicious. Just about as good as it gets. 20

Warre 1947 ****

Tawny - orange in colour; fine but now delicate, fragile and drying out on the nose in this context; lovely peppery-spicy fruit with a vestige of bitter chocolate concentration on the palate, soft, dryish bitter-sweet finish. 17.5

Cockburn 1935 *****

From the days when Cockburn was  one of the leading producers of vintage Port, this one bottled by Jeffersons of  Whitehaven, Cumbria: good deep centre, amber-tawny rim; lovely open, fragrant, floral aromas, quintessential vintage Port nose; ripe, sweet, still firm with bitter chocolate power and depth, fine bitter-sweet finish. Very elegant with near perfect poise. 19

Taylor 1927 *****+!

Wines from the 1927 vintage never fail to amaze me, this one included: still remarkably deep and youthful in appearance, ruby centre, thin tawny rim; tight on the nose, closed even, yet brilliantly fresh; so fresh and well defined on the palate, vibrant, sweet succulent fruit. Firm tannins rising in the mouth leading to a peacocks tail of a finish. Amazing. If I could give this 6 stars I would! 20 


19 - 20 An outstanding wine (*****)

17 – 18 An excellent wine in its class, highly recommended (****)

15 - 16 A good wine, with much to recommend it (***)

13 - 14 An enjoyable but simple, straightforward wine (**)

10 – 12 A very ordinary wine without faults but with no great merit (*)

8 - 10 Disagreeable (no stars)

Below 8 Faulty