When policemen start looking younger, it comes as sign that you are getting older. The same feeling comes when you start drinking Vintage Ports that you remember being declared, two decades earlier. So it was just before Christmas (at the end of a long lunch) when we drank two wines from classic declarations the 1990s. I distinctly recall the debate at Decanter magazine over the 1994 declaration when one or two members of the tasting panel expressed the opinion that the wines were no longer made to last. The 1994s were certainly opulent at the outset but I always believed that they had the underlying structure to develop. And so, twenty two years later, it has been proved. Perhaps overshadowed by 1994, the 1997s have been thought of as lightweights but nineteen years later they should be on the verge of being approachable. There is a need for a comprehensive reappraisal on the 1997s in the near future. Here is a foretaste.
Quinta do Vesúvio 1994 ****
Still very deep and youthful in appearance, as you would expect; fleshy, sweet and still opulent in style showing good depth and length as well as some finesse. Drink this now by all means but it has the depth and structure to develop. 17
Good, deep, youthful colour; strangely stewed on the nose with more than a touch of marmite; tastes green and unbalanced with firm but bitter tannins, especially when set against the opulence of the Vesúvio (above), soupy and lacking in definition. This could be just a phase as Fonseca was one of the leading wines at the outset, or a bad bottle. On this occasion: no mark.
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