You wait ages for a very old tawny Port than two come along at once. First Taylor’s launch their 1863 Single Harvest, then just two weeks later Graham’s launch Ne Oublie, a wine that dates back to the arrival of Andrew James Symington in Portugal in 1882.
The two wines are very different and, given the healthy state of the market for old tawnies at the moment there is definitely room for both. Ne Oublie is not a dated wine because it was never registered as such but represents one of three pipes of Port set to one side 130 years ago. The other two pipes have been left for the next generation of the Symington family. Fittingly, Paul Symington representing the current generation, then Will Symington representing the next, made the speeches at the launch party in London.
The is lavishly packaged in hand made Atlantis crystal decanters (Portuguese) adorned with three bands of Scottish silver. It is then presented in a Smythson (English) leather box. There are just 656 bottles: no wonder the price tag is 5,500 euros (£4,150)!
This is a very special wine, looked after by four generations of the Scottish/Anglo-Portuguese Symington family. It is the embodiment of a hugely successful family business that was weathered war, depression and revolution and continues to innovate and inspire. I have not been able to compare the Taylor and Graham wines side-by-side but the Graham wine seems to me to be the sweeter and richer of the two, perhaps more typical of what I expect of a well kept very old tawny.
Graham’s Ne Oublie *****
Deep red-tinged mahogany with a burnished amber rim; wonderfully fine, lifted aromas (this fills the room from the glass within minutes), the essence of butterscotch and toffee with great concentration and intensity; rich and mellifluous on the palate, syrup of figs and toffeed sweetness with a touch of molasses and warming, silky length of flavour that lasts all day. Seamless from start to finish. 19
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