Graham's Malvedos (1955 - 2009)

I am very grateful to the Port Forum for laying on this, possibly the most comprehensive tasting ever to have taken place of Graham’s Malvedos from 1957 to the present day. The tasting was held at The Royal Airforce Club in London where members of the Port Forum were joined by Paul Symington, joint Managing Director of Symington family estates who bought Graham in 1970 and Quinta dos Malvedos in 1982. Graham’s Malvedos was first released as a brand in 1950, named after the quinta of the same name. Declared in good years - in-between classic vintages - the wine came from a number of properties around the Malvedos estate at Tua. It only became a single quinta wine in 1998 following extensive replanting of Quinta dos Malvedos between 1982 and 1984. The tasting was punctuated with fully fledged vintage declarations of Grahams and is presented in the order the wines were tasted.

[The last similar tasting of Graham's Malvedos took place in 1991 at the Naval and Military Club (the old 'in and out') in London and included a vertical of Graham's Vintage Port from 1927 - 1985. Where relevant I have posted my abridged tasting notes for the same wine in square brackets.]  

Graham 1955 *****

 Good, mid-deed colour, amber rim, wonderful nose, still remarkably fresh and rose scented, classic; very rich opulent style (3.6 baumé), milk chocolate intensity, soft, supple and sweet, seemingly drier on the finish bitter-sweet length. Very good now, this wine will go on and on. 19

[Good colour, wild berry fruit aromas, sweet cherry fruit and a lovely long fresh finish] 

 Graham’s Malvedos 1957 ** / ***

Very good colour, brick red and amber rim, slightly earthy aromas initially, smoky, quite withdrawn; bitter-sweet fruit and touch of dark chocolate concentration, still with plenty of life but skinny and one dimensional after the 1955 14.5

Graham’s Malvedos 1958 *** / ****

 Quite pale and pinkish in colour; still with a bloom of youth on the nose, very pretty, gentle, fragrant and floral but without much richness or intensity; more powerful on the palate, lovely full, gentle richness and still quite fresh on the finish. 16.5

Graham’s Malvedos 1962 ***

 Mid deep colour, browning rim; soft, creamy aromas, still alive if a bit simple, a touch of cigar box emerging; soft, sweet, supple strawberry fruit, backed lovely peppery, dry tannins and a dry finish. 16

 [Turning tawny, drying out but firm. spicy characater lingering on finish] 

Graham’s Malvedos 1964 ***

 Mid-deep youthful centre, thin brown rim; attractive roasted aromas characteristic of a hot vintage, toasted, dusty, opening up to reveal some floral scent; soft, fleshy, some dark chocolate intensity, lovely grip, leading to a bitter-sweet finish, rather short but still very much alive. 16

 [Minty fruit remaining on the nose, soft minty flavours and a touch of liquorice on the finish] 

Graham’s Malvedos 1965 ****

 Good mid-deep colour, thin brown rim; quite dense, opulent with scent emerging, suggests this wine may have more to give; rich, opulent and mouthfilling, lovely sweet, spicy fruit with good tannic grip, figs and prunes on the finish. 17

 [Pale colour, a rather casky smell, dry intially with a delicate mint and cherry-fruit finish]

Graham 1966 *****

 Very good youthful colour, still dark garnet and only just beginning to brown on the rim; dense, solid, foursquare aromas, fine, rich and scented with lots more to give; similarly dense and rich on the palate, remarkably youthful, wonderful multi-dimensional bitter chocolate fruit, solid backbone, lovely structure and ripe tannins. Goes on and on in the mouth. UK bottled. 19.5

 [Dark, black centre, closed, tight-knit on the nose, solid berry and dark chocolate flavours, very fine]

Graham’s Malvedos 1968

 Good mid-deep, youthful hue, thin brown rim; smell of brown sugar, medicinal but not especially scented or aromatic; moderately sweet and rich but quite hard by comparison with most wines so far. Stops short. From a wet vintage. The last Malvedos until 1976. 

[Turning pale tawny in colour, drying up on the nose and palate, delicate finish] 

Graham 1970 *****

 Mid-deep centre, thin browning rim; rich, dense, elegant, scented, lovely opulence with more to give; rich, sweet, gripping dark chocolate and medicinal cherry fruit, wonderful length with flesh and breadth. Tight knit and very harmonious 19

 [Dark, youthful colour, closed, touch of coffee bean on the nose, quite sweet, backed up by solid liquorice characater. Very fine.]  

Graham’s Malvedos 1976 

 Mid-deep pinkish brick red colour; musty, possibly corked, tastes musty and slightly corked though underneath is some soft, sweet fruit and good length. No mark

 [Open minty aromas and flavours, good balance and a lovely fresh finish] 

Graham’s Malvedos 1978 

 Good mid-deep colour, pinkish rim; sadly another musty, corky wine with firm fruit underlying. No mark

 [Still closed up, tight knit on the nose, firm minty fruit with good grip on the finish] 

Graham’s Malvedos 1979 (half-bottle) **

Mid-deep in colour, showing more maturity than the 1978; warm, ripe raisiny fruit on the nose, pruney flavours, tastes roasted with a coffee bean character and a baked finish. Still alive but stewed and hollow. 13

 [Quite lean in style, lacking fat, high toned]

 Graham’s Malvedos 1982 *** (+?)

 Very deep, dark colour, youthful pink rim; lovely, ripe scented fruit, tea leaf aromas, surprisingly fresh; rich but rather dusty on the palate and not especially fine (doesn’t live up to the expectations on the nose) but this wine still has some way to go, it’s still young and will get better. Solid finish, needing time to open up. 16

 [Rich, minty aromas, quite soft in style, dry finish, rather hollow]

Graham’s Malvedos 1984 *** / ****

 Another good, deep coloured wine, lovely aromas, tea leaf (again), very similar in style to the 1982, ripe, fresh, not quite as hefty, lovely succulent fruit with a very sweet succulent finish, still very fresh and elegant. 16.5

Graham 1985 ****  

 Showing a very good youthful colour, still purple on the rim; surprisingly closed on the nose, not giving much away; firm, dry tannins not as succulent a wine as I would expect from this vintage, good grip on the finish, still tight knit. A good wine from a problematic vintage 17.5

 [Dark and unyielding, very rich and winey, minty berry fruit, tight and very intense, round, rich but still green and raw]

Graham’s Malvedos 1986 ****

 Very deep, youthful colour, still black and darker than the 1985; not a great deal coming off the nose but very sweet, opulent and youthful on the palate, still a young strapping wine with good grip and peppery tannic length. 17

Graham’s Malvedos 1987 ****

 Another very deep, youthful looking wine with a thin purple rim; closed, dense, still with more to give; rich, opulent offset by solid tannic backbone and grip, broad, ripe tannic finish and good length. Good enough to count as a full declaration? 17.5

 [Closed, tight-kint, good grip and a firm green finish]

Graham’s Malvedos 1988 ***

Deep centre, thin purple rim with a hint of browning; rich and opulent on the nose and in the mouth, a consequence of very low yields, big solid, foursquare tannins, impressive but lacking in elegance. 16

 [Dark chocolate intensity, spicy and spirity, firm and raw, full of puppy fat]

Graham’s Malvedos 1990

 Deep colour; stewed and volatile on the nose, tastes stewed and dusty, oxidised. No mark.

Graham’s Malvedos 1992 **

 Mid-deep colour; off-putting hint of Bovril on the nose; hot, rich, quite fleshy initially but dry and dusty in style, may still improve with age but this has a hot, baked character that I do not particularly like. 13

Graham’s Malvedos 1995 (half bottle) *

 Deep centre, thin purple rim just starting to brown; rich but somewhat baked and rather soupy on the nose, lacking in definition, a touch of Bovril again on the nose and palate, meaty but rather coarse. 12

Graham’s Malvedos 1996 ** / ***

 Very deep in colour, thin purple rim; ripe, minty on the nose but still quite sullen, needing time to come out; quite ripe and opulent but not that sweet in style with a dusty finish. There was a huge crop this year and the wine does seem slightly stretched as a result. 14.5

Graham’s Malvedos 1998 ****

 This was the first single quinta Malvedos i.e. all the grapes came from the Malvedos estate: very deep, black colour, thin purple rim; dense, meaty eucalypt and esteva(gum cistus) aromas, needing time to develop; lovely, solid foursquare style, ripe fruit with bitter-sweet dark chocolate concentration reflecting the very low yields this year (0.67grams per vine). 17.5

Graham’s Malvedos 1999 ***

 Very deep youthful colour, crimson rim, attractive berry fruit on the nose with more still to give; rich, quite dense, seemingly quite dry in style but with fresh acidity and ripe tannic length. Not that big but well balanced. 16

Graham’s Malvedos 2001 ****

 Very deep black colour, thin purple rim, lovely opulent nose, surprisingly open and forward but with underling concentration; lovely opulence on the palate, very pure and well defined fruit, sweet, luscious, dense. Very good indeed, combining balance and succulence. The first Malvedos to be made in robotic lagares. 17

Graham 2003 *** +?

 Very deep, opaque; closed but with something rather hot and baked underlying (maybe just a phase in its evolution); rich, round and luscious on the palate, dense, ripe chewy tannins but showing the heat of the vintage, rather hot and dusty towards the finish. 16+?

Graham’s Malvedos 2004 *** / ****

 Very deep, opaque, thin crimson rim; vibrant aromas, still open, youthful, amazingly in its first bloom of youth; rich, full of puppy fat, ripe gravelly tannins, rich and opulent, still raw but should re-emerge as a very fine wine in ten years plus. 16.5

Graham’s Malvedos 2006  ****

 Another very deep, dark, opaque wine; still open, very opulent with mint and esteva (gum cistus) evident; powerful gripping wine, rich and opulent with broad, chewy tannins. Complete. Showing great promise for the future. 17.5

Graham’s Malvedos 2008 (cask sample – trial blend) ****? 

Again black - crimson in colour; very aromatic and floral (violets), reflecting Touriga Nacional which makes up 60% of the blend, a very happy wine; rich, balanced and beautiful, very fine with some dark chocolate depth. Early days: 17+?

 

Location: Royal Airforce Club, London

Scoring

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