Vintage Port Notes

Vintage Port Notes

Vintage Port Notes - Recent

10th March 2015 | Vintage Port Notes

Cockburn, one of the greatest names in Port, are celebrating their bicentennial this year. The company was founded in 1815 by Scottish brothers; Robert and John Cockburn.

22nd December 2014 | Vintage Port Notes

I was sent a sample of this rather special wine which I thought I would share with you before Christmas. Sandeman have long produced some excellent aged tawnies, especially at the twenty and thrity year old levels.

28th November 2014 | Vintage Port Notes

By Sandeman's own admission this is a wine made in the 'modern style', to be drunk now or over the next 15 years. It comes from a ripe year but the heat of the vintage is not evident in this wine which is well-made and, above all, well-balanced. As you will see from the note below I would recommend drinking this in its full bloom of youth.

11th October 2014 | Vintage Port Notes

I am very grateful to the The Vintage Port Club, Odense for inviting me to this comprehensive tasting of 1994 Vintage Ports and to celebrate their 25th anniversary with them. At the club’s behest the wines were scored out of 100 which may mean that I have slightly under-marked some wines or overmarked others.

8th October 2014 | Vintage Port Notes

Download my new Guide to Vintage Port free

6th September 2014 | Vintage Port Notes

Quinta do Noval have recently declared 2012. This was a challenging year and, following on from a universal declaration in 2011, the main shippers have opted for single quinta vintage Ports (SQVPS).   

17th July 2014 | Vintage Port Notes

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. 

11th July 2014 | Vintage Port Notes

Very old tawny Ports are currently á moda to use the Portuguese expression. In fact, having long been the preserve of the so called ‘Portuguese shippers’, they have now migrated to the British shippers. In this case the migration is literal.

27th June 2014 | Vintage Port Notes
18th June 2014 | Vintage Port Notes

I am fortunate to have tasted this wine on a number of recent occasions. Until this month it was a 'secret Nacional', bottled but undeclared. The 2004 vintage came hard on the heals of the widely declared 2003 harvest and was treated as a single quinta vintage by most shippers which nonetheless produced some impressive wines.

14th May 2014 | Vintage Port Notes

This was a tutored tasting of varietal wines from the 1992 vintage at Taylor’s Quinta de Terra Feita. It is a logical consequence of the replanting of the late 1970s and 1980s when block planting of separate varieties began to take place en masse for the first time.

14th May 2014 | Vintage Port Notes

These wines followed the tutored tasting of classic grape varieties: 

24th April 2014 | Vintage Port Notes

Port shippers C. da Silva are sitting on a treasure trove of white Port. These wines have been quietly and carefully looked after in cool lodges in Vila Nova de Gaia and deserve to be better known.  This was Jim Reader’s aim in presenting half a century of white Port alongside two old tawnies.

24th April 2014 | Vintage Port Notes

This is a parallel tasting of wines from two very individual Port shippers, both with a strong family input. The wines were presented by João Nicolau de Almeida and Dirk Niepoort respectively. These two producers obviously resepct each other even though they admit to doing things very differently. This is emphatically not a Ramos Pinto v.

23rd April 2014 | Vintage Port Notes

This is the second extensive Sandeman vintage Port tasting that I have undertaken in the last four years (see entry for 13th May 2011 for a more extensive tasting with the Port Forum).

4th March 2014 | Vintage Port Notes

The 1994 vintage represents a generational change for Port. It wasn’t so much the people in charge that changed as the wines themselves.  For a number of leading shippers the 1960s represented the end of an era when founding families were replaced by multinational owners.

19th December 2013 | Vintage Port Notes

 Following their purchase of Wise and Krohn, Taylor's have a huge range of old, cask aged Ports.  Now comes the release of a series of Single Harvest Ports (Colheitas in all but name) of which the 1964 is the first to be offered, just in time for next year's 50th birthdays. 

11th December 2013 | Vintage Port Notes

With the 2011 Vintage Port tasting season coming to an end, I have received four bottled wines (as opposed to cask samples) from Sogevinus, the Spanish group that own Barros, Calem, Kopke and Burmester.

11th December 2013 | Vintage Port Notes

Kopke, the oldest Port shipper in continuous trading, celebrates its 375th anniversary this year. At a time when colheitas are in fashion (even among the British houses who used to quietly eschew the style), Kopke has no need to scour the Douro in search of old wine.

13th October 2013 | Vintage Port Notes

Quinta do Noval is celebrating a significant anniversary in 2013. Twenty years ago, in the wake of the truly dreadful 1993 harvest, Christian Seely was appointed to manage the Portuguese estate following its high profile acquisition by AXA Millésimes earlier that year.

17th September 2013 | Vintage Port Notes

I attended the most fabulous dinner tonight at the The Banqueting House in Whitehall to celebrate 60 Years of the Institute of Master's of Wine. We began by drinking Bollinger from magnums in the undercroft (the drinking den of James I) then climbed the stairs to dine below a ceiling painted by Rubens.

16th September 2013 | Vintage Port Notes

It is not very often that any of us get to taste, let alone drink, Quinta do Noval Nacional Vintage Port. The wine comes from 2ha of ungrafted vines at the heart of the quinta and is so named because the vines are Portuguese, without foreign rootstock, growing in Portuguese soil and therefore ‘attached to the soil of the nation’.  

13th September 2013 | Vintage Port Notes

These are two wines to which I didn't give very fair coverage when I first tasted them earlier in the year so I received new samples and have now had the chance to re-taste them at leisure (and in cooler weather).

6th June 2013 | Vintage Port Notes

There has been a rush to evaluate the recently declared 2011 Ports, caused partly by the excitement of a new and undoubtedly fine vintage but also by the use of the internet both for selling and evaluating the wines. Most UK merchants have already sold their allocations although a few are holding back their offers until later in the year. 

24th April 2013 | Vintage Port Notes

This was a challenging year for growers and a dream for wine makers. The major shippers, all with substantial vineyard holdings of their own, experienced a few nightmares during the growing season followed by  euphoria at vintage.

14th February 2013 | Vintage Port Notes

I tasted this pair of old colheitas at the end of last year for the launch of the House of Tantalus Port Library. Since then the producer, Wise & Krohn, has been sold to the Fladgate Partnership who own Taylor, Fonseca and Croft, so it is likely that we will be seeing more of these beautifully kept old wines in future.

24th January 2013 | Vintage Port Notes

There is currently a fashion for dated tawnies with Taylor, Warre and now Quinta do Vallado all releasing old colheitas over the past year. This wine from Vallado has a better pedigree than most. It has been bottled to commemorate Dona Antónia Adelaide Ferreira´s 200th Anniversary which fell last year.

11th October 2012 | Vintage Port Notes

There is a saying in the Port trade that whereas ‘vintage Port is made in the vineyard, tawny is made in the tasting room’. This tasting led by Paul and Johnny Symington marks a subtle change in direction for Graham’s as a producer of tawny Port. The change is in the tasting room where Charles Symington is now in charge.

13th September 2012 | Vintage Port Notes

Cockburn, one of the great names in Port, has long held a rather idiosyncratic approach to declaring vintages. They missed out on some classic years in the last century: 1945, 1966 (preferring 1967) and 1977 (preferring 1978).

1st June 2012 | Vintage Port Notes

In the course of updating my book, Port and the Douro, I asked a number of leading shippers to submit single quinta vintage Ports from the decade 2000 – 2010 for tasting.  The first part of the tasting includes a very impressive set of Ports from the 2004 vintage.  

1st June 2012 | Vintage Port Notes

Fonseca, Quinta do Panascal 2005 ****

Deep, youthful colour; big, mint and cherry fruit on the nose, ripe and heady, very expressive in a ripe sort of way; hugely sweet, ripe cherry-berry fruit, powerful tannins, a bit disjointed, still needs time to come together. Sweet cherry fruit finish.  17 

30th May 2012 | Vintage Port Notes

The silence on my website has been deafening over the past few weeks, at least to me. I have been busy finishing the third edition of my book Port and the Douro which is due to be published in the autumn. With nearly all the i's dotted and t's crossed I can go back to posting tasting notes on my website.

2nd May 2012 | Vintage Port Notes

For some reason it has taken me over a year to post these notes form a tasting that I undertook at the end of the day after the Big Fortified Tasting in London. The wines were tasted blind and my palate was more than a  bit jaded at the time so make allowance for this in the notes I am posting here.

8th February 2012 | Vintage Port Notes

 I have a strange soft spot for the 1982 vintage. It was the summer that I was properly introduced to the Douro, spending a month in the region researching my undergraduate dissertation on vineyard micro-climate.

28th November 2011 | Vintage Port Notes

I tasted the following Ports at the Wine Society’s London tasting and thought my albeit rather brief notes were worth recording:

17th November 2011 | Vintage Port Notes

Once again I am very grateful to the Port Forum, especially Rob Coombes, for inviting me to this triple vertical tasting of three second tier houses belonging to the Symington family.

3rd November 2011 | Vintage Port Notes

This is the second time I have been invited to the Manchester Tennis and Racquet Club to lead a Vintage Port tasting.

20th October 2011 | Vintage Port Notes

This tasting of single Quinta vintage Ports was organised by the Symingtons to showcase wines from their family estates back to the 1950s. It includes wines from the ex-Cockburn properties bought by the Symingtons in 2006, many of which were on show for the first time.

19th July 2011 | Vintage Port Notes

I celebrated a significant birthday this year and with the help of some enthusiastic members of the Port Forum (click on ‘links’ for more information) we uncorked some splendid wines including the oldest Vintage Port that I have ever tasted:

25th May 2011 | Vintage Port Notes

This selection of wines from the Fladgate Partnership was presented by David Guimaraens and Natasha Bridge in the tasting room at the Fonseca lodge during a recent visit to Porto.

13th May 2011 | Vintage Port Notes

As soon as I stepped from Piccadilly into the lobby of the RAF Club I smelt the quality of the Port. This tasting of 26 wines spanning over a century was put together by members of the Port Forum who had been decanting the wines all afternoon.

6th May 2011 | Vintage Port Notes

It came as quite a surprise to hear that the Fladgate Partnership had declared 2009 across the board. Although 2009 was a very good year in the vineyard, it comes very soon after 2007 and it is the fourth fully declared vintage for Taylor, Fonseca and Croft this decade.

25th March 2011 | Vintage Port Notes

I was asked to lead a tutored a tasting of Vintage Ports in aid of the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust. All the wines were generously donated by William Harrison and Michael Hurdle from their own cellars. Forty guests supped on the wines, followed by lunch and a blind tasting.

21st October 2010 | Vintage Port Notes

It has been eight years since Adrian Bridge, Managing Director of the Fladgate Partnership (including Taylor) and Paul Symington, Managing Director of Symington Family Estates (including Graham) last presented a tasting together.

21st October 2010 | Vintage Port Notes

Quinta do Noval is perhaps the most emblematic estate in the Douro. Since the property changed hands in 1993, Christian Seely has been, in his own words, ‘putting things right’. He is candid about the past.

21st October 2010 | Vintage Port Notes

I have never tasted a wine from this vintage before - at least I don't think that I have, 1896 being the closet that I can find in my notes.

18th October 2010 | Vintage Port Notes

It’s been quite a week for tasting Port with two 19th century wines that I hadn’t tasted before (see below and next posting). This tawny port ‘masterclass’ led by the Fladgate Partnership’s MD Adrian Bridge was a useful vehicle to demystify the origin and blending of an aged tawny Port.

26th May 2010 | Vintage Port Notes

I was very grateful to be invited to an improptu meeting of the Port Forum held near my home in North Derbyshire. Everyone brought two wines and presented them blind with cryptic clues.

The first pai of wines were served blind in black glasses so as not to reveal the colour of the wine - a fascinating experiment:

18th May 2010 | Vintage Port Notes

I tasted these in the order they are listed at the London International Wine Trade Fair. The conditions for tasting are far from ideal at this event so my notes are scribbled first impressions.  

22nd March 2010 | Vintage Port Notes

I am very grateful to the Port Forum for laying on this, possibly the most comprehensive tasting ever to have taken place of Graham’s Malvedos from 1957 to the present day.



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