The Port house Fonseca celebrated its bicentenary with a dinner at The Wallace Collection in London on Portugal Day, 10th June. With Taylor, Fonseca and Croft (the houses that make up the Fladgate Partnership) having eschewed Douro wine, the star billing for the evening fell to the Ports: a melifluous Fonseca 40 Year Old Tawny (served with Foie Gras) and two vintage Ports. Word went round that there was a significant amount of bottle variation with one of the 1985 Imperials (6 litres, no less) tragically corked. I tasted two very different examples of Fonseca 1963 (see below).
Fonseca 1985 ****
Decanted from an Imperial (6 litres): still very deep and youthful in colour and remarkably demure on the nose for a wine that is now thirty years old (could this be the influence of the Imperial?), underlying restrained, tight knit berry fruit; far from giving its all, this wine is nonetheless sweet, fleshy and firm, very much in the spirit of the best 1985s, it retains its ripe tight-knit tannic grip which leads to a lovely long spicy finish. Confirmation that Fonseca is still the very best of a very variable vintage overall. 18
Fonseca 1963 **** / *****
I was fortunate to have two goes at this wine: the first, brick red with a pink rim, fragrant and floral, soft, sweet and elegant with gentle tannic grip, but soft and redolent of a nutty tawny on the finish. The second, seemingly identical in colour but with the wonderful focus and dark chocolate intensity that I would expect from this great vintage. Spell binding depth, like a back hole, with bitter chocolate and thick cut marmalade in perfect balance. Outstanding. 17 to the first bottle, 19.5 to the second.
Location: The Wallace Collection, London
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