Two long-lived vintage fortifieds

1975 baileys vp

1975 Baileys Vintage Port
The label states Bundarra, with Baileys in smaller print, but it’s the same mob. I extracted a pretty ordinary cork, which however had faithfully performed its duty for 45 years,

Made before I was even interested in wine, it was a recent auction purchase for a surreal  price just over $20. Insane value! The Baileys red wines from 1975 (and 1977, and 1979) are somewhat rustic but the depth of ripe fruit flavour is extraordinary, and they continue to surprise,

Baileys (Glenrowan, Victoria) were renowned for their monumental red wines where vigour trumped finesse; plus their luscious fortifieds (muscat and topaque). Back then, vintage fortifieds were less of a winemaker indulgence than now.

Likely to be made entirely from Shiraz, it’s still a vibrant black/red colour albeit some bricking on the rim; it’s an unashamed old-fashioned inky Oz style – a meal in a glass- with ripe fresh sweet blackberry and raspberry jam, a touch of mocha/cocoa and aromatic brandy spirit. It’s lush, rich, sweet, and endless.

I reviewed this wine on this site in November 2015, and descriptions and conclusions are (thankfully) consistent.

The wine is a tribute to the area, its maker Harry Tinson, and is completely compelling. I cannot see improvement, but its longevity is astounding.

Drink to 2035, and 92 points

1986 Graham’s Quinta dos Malvedos 20%
(Served blind). The wine had a very deep red/black colour, with red liquorice and milk chocolate, plus a touch of tar. The palate was supple, showing rose-hip, cherry and red berry flavours with slightly grainy tannins. I suspected the wine was a Portuguese VP, mainly with the mixed fruit flavours, perhaps from the mid-1990’s. Other drinkers confidently stated it was Australian, and perhaps 15-20 years old.

When unveiled, the first surprise (to most) was its Portuguese origin; the next surprise its actual age (33 years); the last surprise was that it wasn’t from a widely declared year. My speculation was that the houses were dealing with (generally) declared years of 1980, 1883 and 1985 – and may have met some market resistance to another release. It was less of a surprise that the wine was from Grahams – generally characterised as making a slightly richer and sweeter style than many other houses.

Anyway, drink to 2030, and 94 points as a pleasurable educational experience.

I have negligible experience with this style, so some homework within the Graham’s website and elsewhere was needed. For Graham’s, the Malvedos site provides the main component when vintages are declared, but it’s also generally bottled in non-declared years. Its main varieties are Touriga National and Touriga Franca, plus others. The wines clearly can have great longevity (the last tranche of the 1965 Quinta dos Malvedos was re-released as a 50-year old wine).

A vertical tasting of the Quinta dos Malvedos with notes from Andy Velebil is on the For the love of port site.

And I will be slower to dismiss wines from non-declared years!

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10 decades of (Portuguese) Vintage Port

This turned out to be extremely educational about the longevity of this style. 10 different houses, and some great comments from the organisers and a contingent of winemakers from Rutherglen. Certainly its unusual for me try more than one VP at a session. Far from easy task locate these, and we suffer in Australia from vagaries of shipping and storage. All wines were decanted for about 3 hours, and we’re looking at single bottles as they were on the night. The oldest Portuguese VP I recall is the wonderful 1970 Fonseca, with the oldest Australian versions I’ve tried include a 1956 Hardy and a 1957 Lindemans. An observation  was made at the tasting that Australia was intent on moving to a drier, more Portuguese style with greater use of Portuguese grape varieties (rather than our traditional Shiraz). There was less agreement of whether the Portuguese had made any concessions to early drinking or more approachable VP’s.

As it happened the 3 oldest wines fared brilliantly. I had feared they might be historical curios, but they were defiantly truly alive.

2012 Quinta do Noval

Not many declared 2012 especially since 2011 turned out so well.

Dense red black with purple tints; this is highly perfumed and floral – blueberry and violets and black fruits. It surprisingly approachable, but the tannins are very fine and persistent. Red liquorice and some headsy spirit. But not the magic of 2011. Score 93+, but no doubt this will live longer than I suspect.

2000 Croft

Slightly murky colour, Slightly grubby bouquet with some cough syrup and cocoa; palate is better. The spirit holds this together, and kicks in vigorously at the finish. Score 90

1997 Fonseca

Medium red, spices, grainy tannins, sweeter style on the palate. Score 91

1983 Taylor’s

Clear ruby colour, with some floor-polish aromas, seems pretty straightforward on the palate. Score 91

1977 Grahams

Clear pale ruby. Lots of rose petal, toffee/coffee/ jersey caramel. Brisk with spirit making a terrific contribution. Graham is reputed as a sweeter style, but its not out of place. Lovely now but will keep for a long time yet, such is its balance. Score 95

1960 Warres

Looking forward to this, but TCA has made an unwelcome appearance. Kept for 55 years and ruined by cork taint.

1955 Cockburn

This was also ruined, but whether oxidation or other issues was debated by the group. Certainly faulty.

1947 Delaforce

Ruby colour with some orange tints. Starting to look like an old tokay. Citrus peel and salted mixed nuts, spirit a bit hot, but lovely drinking. Score 94

1935 Sandeman’s

Ruby colour, dried fruits and plums, vanilla, and toffee. Fleshy, subtle, singing. Score 94

1927 Dow’s

Amber colour; scents of green olive, orange peel and chocolate covered peanuts (one of my favourite indulgences). Could drink this all night. Score 96