I have a strange soft spot for the 1982 vintage. It was the summer that I was properly introduced to the Douro, spending a month in the region researching my undergraduate dissertation on vineyard micro-climate. I also recall reading Brideshead Revisted among the vines with a glass of chilled tawny so I associate it with a certain about of youthful decadence! Although a handful of shippers declared 1982, the year never had the makings of a great vintage and in general the wines are soft, sweet and raisiny reflecting the heat of August and early September. However I seem to recall that Croft hailed 1982 as ‘the vintage of the century’ when they declared two years later. The story of Croft’s 1982 has been partly told in James Suckling’s book, Vintage Port, but in short it was a wine made by accountants. Croft belonged at the time to drinks multinational IDV and the local management, Robin Reid and John Burnett, were by all accounts overruled by their boss who effectively doubled the size of their intended vintage declaration. At the time Croft refused to divulge just how large the declaration was but I estimate that it must have been between 30,000 and 40,000 cases. Having said that Croft made 36,000 cases of 1963 which turned out to be a long-lived wine but wine making was better I those days and Croft’s vineyards were not being milked for yield in the same way as they were by the early 1980s.
Croft 1982 was not on show in the Century of Croft vertical hosted by the Fladgate Partnership in 2007. I thought I would never see Croft 1982 again so I am very grateful to Tom Archer of the Port Forum for sending me a bottle to taste and record here.
Croft 1982 **
Very pale and obviously stretched in colour, almost a deep rosé at the centre and turning tawny on the rim; clean, some fragrance but not much richness or depth, rather hollow and attenuated, soft fruit pastille character both on the nose and palate, still tasting quite fresh, a touch of medicinal raspberry and strawberry character with just a vestige of bitter-sweet tannic grip remaining. Falls away quite quickly on the finish leaving rather simple fruit pastille sweetness. At thirty years old this has held up much better than I expected although it is a long way from being a great vintage Port. 13.5
Location: The Rookery
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