Vintage Port at Tissington (1994 - 1960)

I was asked to lead a tutored a tasting of Vintage Ports in aid of the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust. All the wines were generously donated by William Harrison and Michael Hurdle from their own cellars. Forty guests supped on the wines, followed by lunch and a blind tasting. We eventually rolled out of the door at Tissington at around 6pm. Thanks are due to Sir Richard Fitzherbert for his tolerance!

Dow 1994 **** / *****

Deep, dark and still dumb. This probably needs another five years plus to open up. Opulent on the palate, characteristically sweet and succulent, fine and focused with broad, well-structured tannins on the finish. Will be very impressive to drink from 2016 onwards. 18.5

Fonseca 1992 *** / ****

Mid-deep colour, pink on the rim; awkward on the nose, not yet giving its all; some depth on the palate, rich and fleshy, not that big but not as big but this wine has balance and elegance and it has a core. Quite powerful tannins, still needs another least two years in bottle at least. 16.5

Taylor 1983  ***

Not especially deep in colour; open, quite loose knit on nose and palate, firm austere tannins, lovely pure berry fruit but overall quite austere, verging on lean with lovely purity of fruit on the finish. Ready to drink. Not a long term wine.  16  Now - 2025 1

Warre 1977 ***

Now looking quite pale, browning on the rim, perhaps a bit hollow on the nose, soft, quite sweet, elegant, fruit drying up and light dry tannic finish. Not a keeper. Now -2020 16

Graham 1970 *****

Still deep for its age, rich, classic nose, extra dark chocolate, very sweet in the Graham style with dark chocolate concentration of flavour, lovely grip, broad tannins and a rich broad finish. Outstanding wine for the long term. Drink with pleasure for the next thirty years or more! 19

Quinta do Noval 1966 ****

This corresponds to the end of an era when Noval were making outstanding wines, which only recommenced in 1994: good deep centre, browning rim; not giving than much away on the nose but showing underlying intensity; firm, tight knit with bitter chocolate intensity, this has a core, perhaps a little lean on the finish, firm bitter-sweet length. 17.5 

Cockburn 1963 ****

Mid-deep garnet, thin browning rim; one stinky bottle but otherwise lovely open, floral aromas, aromatic and fine; well balanced black cherry and bitter choc flavours, quite powerful and well knit but not as opulent or showy as the last time I tasted it (2002). Still a lovely wine. 17.5 

Croft 1960 ****

Still very deep and youthful in appearance, still very fresh, open, ripe, some opulence weight and depth, quite sweet in style which rather flatters the wine but there is still plenty of life left in Croft 1960. Now – 2020 + 17

Location: Tissington Hall, Nr Ashbourne, Derbyshire


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