Vintage Port Dinner – Manchester Tennis and Racquet's Club

Every year I am invited to lead a Port dinner at Manchester’s oldest sporting club. Some of the wines come form club stock and members also generously bring their own bottles to share. My contribution was a bottle of Croft 1963 which looked good on paper but proved to be a letdown in the glass. We tasted, then drank, some outstanding wines. My notes are a bit sketchy given all the debate and conversation going on but the following are written up in the order they were presented: 

Graham 1970 ****

Mid-deep garnet, still showing its relative youth; fine, ripe opulent aromas, very expressive and very Graham’s in style, overtly sweet and fragrant; sweet and suave on the palate, full of ripe plummy fruit backed by smooth, ripe tannins with a long opulent finish.  18 

Fonseca 1966 *****

I am very grateful to Brendon Hegarty QC for contributing this wine as he was unable to attend the dinner:  deep at the centre, just showing its age on the rim; lovely tight-knit yet fragrant aromas with bitter-sweet dark chocolate at the core both on the nose and palate, fine tannic grip holding it all together. This is a very fine example of a very fine wine.  19 

Croft 1963 

Mid-deep in colour and showing its age, sullen on the nose without any of the fragrance that one would expect for a wine of this calibre or age, then rather lean and dried up in the mouth, with out much charm. A poor bottle I fear, as this wine has showed well in the past.  No mark.

Graham 1960 ****

Mid-deep in hue; this wine did have the floral fragrance that you expect from a fine vintage Port, surprisingly opulent for a 1960, sweet, fleshy but still tight knit and focused with attractive length. There need be no hurry to drink this. 17  

Butler Nephew 1955 **

Pale and a touch lifted (volatile on the nose) but with peppery sweetness evident both on the nose and palate, quite light in style, especially for a 1955, turning tawny and rather thin and dried up in this company. Needs drinking up. 13.5

Graham 1955 *****

 Good, deep garnet colour; wonderfully perfumed with plummy depth both on the nose and palate, still tight knit and well focused, retaining its tannic grip mid-palate and onto the finish. Fine structure, wonderful evolution and a truly great and beautiful wine.  The wine of the night! 19.5    

Location: MTRC

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