Taylor, Fonseca and Croft Vintage Ports 1992 - 2009

These wines followed the tutored tasting of classic grape varieties: 

Taylor 1992 ****

Much deeper in colour than any of the 1992 varietal samples (see previous posting), opaque centre, thin browning rim; rich, dark chocolate character on the nose, still quite restrained with more to give; full and sweet initially with peppery tannins rising mid-palate, leading to a bitter-sweet finish. Ready to drink though still quite youthful with plenty still to give. 17

Fonseca 1992 ****

Deep centre, though not quite as deep as Taylor’s on the rim; similarly rich but not as expressive on the nose; rich and voluptuous initially with full, ripe tannins building in the mouth, leading to a solid, foursquare finish. Not particularly fruit driven at this stage and more reticent than the Taylor. Better in 3-5 years.  17.5

Taylor 1994 *****

Deep and youthful in hue, thin purple rim; restrained on the nose with big, ripe plummy fruit just emerging; full and sweet, well-defined plum and berry fruit backed by solid, ripe tannins with dark chocolate depth and concentration extending through the finish, yet still with lovely berry fruit freshness. A superb wine, quintessential Taylor, that needs another 5 years to blossom. 19

Fonseca 1994 ****? 

Deep centre, just turning on the rim; not very showy on the nose (this sample is possibly a bit oxidized?); full and fleshy on the palate with plenty of ripe plam and berry fruit and a build up of ripe tannin. A little more accessible than the Taylor. Drink now (just). 17.5?  

Croft 1994 **/***

Deep centre, looking more mature on the rim; rather hot and jammy in style both on the nose and palate, sweet and exuberant with full plum jam flavours, very flattering with full, ripe tannic grip but slightly soupy and lacking in definition.  14.5

Taylor 1997 ***

Mid-deep centre with a thin pink rim; rather loose knit on the nose, sweaty and not terribly attractive (two samples tasted, both much the same, perhaps just a phase); sweet and supple, mid-weight with rather dusty tannins and an attractive, fresh finish.  This may just need a bit more time in bottle to express itself. 15

Fonseca 1997 ****

Mid-deep in colour, slightly paler than Taylor; beautifully expressive and aromatic on the nose, lovely pure berry (cassis) fruit; suave on the palate, gentle  berry fruit and milk chocolate richness not big but supremely elegant. Perfect now, this also has the poise to develop and keep. 17.5   

Taylor 2000 ****

Very deep, opaque youthful colour; still closed on the nose and not very expressive, some characteristic violety fruit emerging; sweet and plummy initially, well-defined on the palate with firm ripe tannins rising towards the finish. Needs another ten years in bottle to emerge.  18

Fonseca 2000 ****

Mid-deep youthful colour; rich with plenty of underlying depth but not very expressive on the nose; similarly full and sweet, firm tannic grip building mid-palate leading to a broad plummy finish. Like the Taylor, not much of a hook here  as yet: this needs more time to express itself.  17.5

Croft 2000 **

Mid-deep and still youthful; rather loose knit and a bit earthy on the nose; sweet but rather soupy and lacking in definition and focus, jammy fruit falls away on the finish. Rather hollow, especially against its Fladgate peers! 14

Taylor 2003 ****/*****

Still very deep, youthful and opaque in colour; big. ripe and with dusty tannins evident on the nose. Just emerging from its shell; quite reticent, more so than either Fonseca or Croft below; lovely sweet voluptuous fruit, very fresh yet big, broad and ripe, full, ripe sturdy tannins on to the finish. Complete. Needs another 10 years in bottle to be ready to drink. 18.5

Fonseca 2003 *****

Lovely depth of colour; ripe and profound on the nose, berry fruit just emerging; fine plummy flavours, rich and voluptuous with broad ripe tannins extending into a peacock’s tail finish. Very, very good. This just has the edge on Taylor for me, but it is purely a matter of personal preference. 19

Croft 2003 ****

The first vintage under new owenership and it really shows: good deep colour; fine, ripe aromatic nose, the most open and fragrant of the trio; sweet, flattering berry fruit, velvety and supple, great purity and definition with lovely balance. Developing very well: the most forward of the three but none the worse for that. Start to drink in 2018. 17

Taylor 2007 ****/*****

Very deep in colour, opaque with a deep purple rim; restrained and winey on the nose, tight-knit with lovely pure berry fruit on the palate, not especially big but very fine and elegant with great expression and definition, fine grained linear tannins all the way through to the finish.     18.5

Fonseca 2007 ****

Deep and opaque, closed and tight knit with huge underlying intensity, big with a solid core of fine-grained tannins, beautiful berry fruit finding expression on a sweet, peppery finish. Keep 10 years before drinking.  18

Croft 2007 ****

Very deep, youthful appearance; gentle mint and berry fruit on the nose, still with more to give; sweet, voluptuous berry fruit, again with more to give, dense ripe tannins leading to a rich plump finish. Very Croft (Roeda?) in style.  17

Taylor’s 2009 **** / *****

Deep, inky black colour; closed and still quite raw on the nose; dense, rich and plummy with super-ripe fruit matched by ripe tannins which pile up in the mouth and on to the finish. A big wine needing time to come together  - will be very impressive indeed in 15 – 20 years.  18.5

Fonseca 2009 ****/*****

Similarly deep and inky; rich and dense with dark chocolate concentration, still a bit raw around the edges and needing time to knit; lovely, rich, ripe plummy fruit with broad tannins which build on to an impressive  finish. Big, solid, structured wine. Very, very promising. 18.5

Croft 2009 ****

Very similar in colour to the above but much less introverted and showing more opulence on the nose with big, bold plum and berry fruit already emerging; rich and fleshy with soft, ripe grainy tannins leading to a dense tannic finish.  Drink before Fonseca and Taylor. 17.5

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