Three more vintage ports

1996 ch reynella vp again

1996 Chateau Reynella Vintage port 19%
Shiraz, McLaren Vale, bottle #532. Served blind.
Ruby with some bricking, dark berries, mint and camphor. Sweet dark berry flavours, mocha, liquorice, sweet spices, ample tannin but absolutely ready to drink.
Drink to 2030, 92 points. (an uncanny similar description to my post from March this year)

1980 warre's vp

1980 Warre’s Vintage Port 20%
Portugal. Served blind.
Ruby colour, camphor, cardamon, wax, putty. I was suspicious that there was a faint whisp of TCA, but it was invisible on the palate, so I relented. Palate is soft, with mocha and some figgy character with headsy spirit. This is a wine where the fruit was playing second fiddle to the spirit, but the whole seemed better than its components
Drink to 2030, 92 points (and there may be better bottles around)

1980 taylors vp

1980 Taylor’s Vintage Port  
Portugal. Served blind.
Ruby colour, with some browning. Putty, cherry and almond. Palate drier than Australian, with marzipan and cherry; spirit slightly sharp, but a winner on the flavour persistence stakes.
My initial age range was 1975-1985, and when options came up as 77/80/83 I correctly selected 1980. (However, I got the house wrong- I don’t drink enough Portuguese VPs!)
Drink to 2035, 94 points

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Two sweet, and two strong

2000 Ch Rieussec (Fargues, Sauternes) 13.5%
1999 Ch Coutet (Barsac, Sauternes) 13%
These were served as a pair (masked). The first wine had more of a copper colour, but with definitive Sauternes character – vanilla, cumquat, wax, honey, bitter orange and citrus rind. It seemed ripe, ready, and enjoyable. 2000 was a wet year with a small crop – 65% Semillon, 24% sav blanc, 11% muscadelle.
Drink to 2025, and 92 points

The second wine also seemed typically Sauternes, albeit with less overt acidity. Pale orange colour, melon and tropical pineapple were its key features. This was also ready, but in a subtler style than the first wine. Sound, correct but few thrills. 75% Semillon, 23% sav blanc, 2% muscadelle.
Drink now, 90 points

I (correctly) guessed both wines were from the mid to late 1990’s, and from “lesser” years.

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Three wines, at least two learnings

1982 S&K VP

1982 Stanton and Killeen Vintage Port 19%
Rutherglen Shiraz, from a vintage rated as 9/10 by the winemaker.

Forty years old , and the cork has held up. Bricky colour, but nothing out of order.
Black fruits, mocha, fresh red liquorice, and vanilla bean; almond and clove spices join in. Light milk chocolate, soft palate. Easy to ask for more.

Drink to 2025, and a resounding 91 points

Warre’s Optima 20 Year old Tawny Port 20%
Portugal, bottled in 2013 (and served blind)

Light khaki colour, and packed with toffee, caramel, vanilla, fruit peel, and citrus. Light on its feet, lingering, everything in its place…except one sensitive taster mentioned mousiness.

This is – fortunately for me-not easy to detect (it depends on mouth pH and other factors), else it would ruin my enjoyment of many fortified wines. Mousiness can occur in non-fortified wines, seemingly more prevalent with no-early-SO2 wines (hello, natural wines again). A brief article by Jamie Goode is here.

I can find mousiness via the “skin test”, smearing it over my wrist and waiting for evaporation. The result can be horrific – I liken it to burnt bacon, corn chips and popcorn with a bitter, harsh and unfortunately persistent flavour. Once detected, it’s impossible to overlook –  I’ve had worse than this wine, but…

Avoid. No score.

2008 Ca’ d’gal vite vecchia Moscato d’asti 5%
Piedmont, Italy (served blind)

Partiallly obvious what this was – the frizzante, slightly sparkling style (around 1.5 atmospheres – Champagne is 4.5-6), the sweetness (90-100 g/l) and obvious grapey muscat aromatic. However, instead of merely the usual refreshing sherbetty and “fun” approach, this wine had much more complexity – chamomile, lime, beeswax/candlewax, a spice-bucket with mandarin citrus. Flavours mirrored this, and while still bracingly vibrant, bonus merit for its surprising cellarability and the exotic souk perfumes, Aged for 5 years in bottle, and look at the meagre alcohol level! Obvious ageing potential here. The producer makes a range; this is the old-vine flagship, No surprise its> $120.

Scoring presents a conundrum – Moscato d’asti is user-friendly, but this was well beyond my expectations of the style. It startled me, and led to some research.

Drink now, and 95 points

Recent misses (and hits)

1968 Moulin Touchais (Coteaux du Layon) Loire Valley
Chenin blanc. A bit of dried apple, but this oxidised bottle provided no pleasure.
1979 Moulin Touchais (Coteaux du Layon) Loire Valley
Similar, but worse. Pretty dead.

These “fails” could not be scored. But Cellartracker shows there are better bottles around.

2004 fonseca
2004 Fonseca Guimaraens Vintage Port
Portugal. Ruby colour with some bricking; dark red fruits and plum, dried fruitcake and spices, almond meal, clean spirit, savoury, grippy, chalky. Maybe a tad light, but very smashable at the end of a long night! Not a generally declared year, and in this year Fonseca also produced a Panascal. The single quinta wines can be excellent value.

Drink to 2030, 92 points

2005 Zind-humbrecht Turkheim Riesling 13%
Alsace. Advanced mandarine colour; apricot and tropicals run riot. Palate is off-dry, waxy, with lime marmalade, and  22 g/l residual sugar. Great fun, but drink up. Alsace is so inconsistent, but when they get it right. Zind-humbrecht sometimes seem alcohol-heavy; this hit the spot.

Drink now, 90 points

2000 Chambers botrytis tokay
Rutherglen, Victoria. Its colour was almost mahogany, but it was still kicking sweetly with orange, toffee, quince,  and dried fruits. It was very grapey, spicy, and varietally not Riesling nor Sauterne-like. I was pondering Frontignac, or something unusual.

Botrytis tokay (muscadelle) is uncommon, but not unique. Chambers in Rutherglen released thi style from 1996, 2000 and 2011. Pfeiffer has also made the style.

Drink now, and 90 points-  as a wine that was difficult to define, but worth the effort.

1977 taylors VP
1977 Taylor Fladgate Vintage Port
Portugal. Memories came flooding back after this wine was unmasked; it was the first Portuguese VP I ever tasted, and I instantly purchased one bottle despite my meagre salary. That bottle was opened in mid-2005 – “rose-petal & raisin & Turkish delight, high alcohol, huge power- another 20 years”.

Sixteen years later…. ruby with some brick, not the deepest, but with a mix of red, blue, black, purple fruits; fresh, fleshy, ultra-supple, clean spirit, almond notes, spices and rich dark chocolate. Its owner informed that a three-hour decant did the trick. This wine looks indestructible, and its complexity was a delight.

Drink to 2040, and 95 points

Two different Port styles, two countries

2000 graham's vp

2000 Graham’s Vintage Port 20%
Cork in great condition, and the wine has a youthful deep crimson colour; bracingly fresh and floral raspberry and faint musk; palate with rich cherry liqueur and blue fruits ; terrific calibre of spirit, chalks and almond; has entered a decent drinking stage of a long, long, life. Graham’s reputed to be at the sweeter end of Portuguese VPs- but there were no complaints at the table.

Drink to 2040, 93 points – with more to come.

1933 para

1933 Seppelt Para Liqueur Port
1933 merely represents the oldest material in this barrel-matured tawny blend, which was released around 1962. At that tender time, there was no requirement to list alcohol, and its composition is likely to be some mix of grenache, shiraz and Mataro, with an average age guessed at 25 years.

There is the unmistakable squat bottle; but the colour did not show the tell-tale Seppelt khaki/green. It revealed more vanilla characters than expected for this style. However, it was fresher than several previous examples, and showed an array of dried fruits, almond and caramel, with a touch of mocha. Aged Barossa Valley material, and it’s always a treat to look at some history.

Drink now, 92 points.

A few different ports

1994 Gehrig Family Estate Vintage Port 17.5%
Barnawatha, on the outskirts of Rutherglen (Victoria). A recent very smart $25 auction buy. Although the cork failed to survive the corkscrew and ah-so, all was OK after the usual filtration. From “low-yielding old Shiraz vines”, it’s still a deep ruby colour with blackberry, bramble and sweet brandy vanilla. The palate is mellow and cuddly. There is fruity plum, blackberry and fig to satisfy the most fastidious with enough weight and tannin to maintain interest throughout.  Absolutely at its peak with cork gods indulgence. Terrific, and insanely delicious from a less-well-known producer.

1994 gehrig vp

Drink to 2026, and 91 points

1985 Warres Vintage Port 20%
Three different corkscrews failed to remove the cork cleanly, and plentiful sediment was successfully filtered out.

Ruby with some bricking, but the colour was still  flattering for a 36 year old Portuguese Vintage Port.. The wine is very stylish with fragrant mocha, fig, ripe red and black fruits and smart integrated mellow spirit. The palate adds almond notes, spices and the fresh as well as dried fruit flavours persist.

Drinking dramatically well now – and up to say 2030, and 95 points

1991 Seppeltsfield Para (21 year old) 21%
A single vintage tawny style, purchased last year at auction for $70. Around 40 y/o seems to be my preference in tawny styles; older wines can show extremes, meaning they are impressive but not entirely pleasurable; younger wines don’t achieve all the complexities the style is capable of. But 21 years is enough!

Seppelts (and Seppeltsfield) have unparalleled experience in this style with Para appearing in many guises. Mainly made from Grenache, there is the typical Seppelt khaki colour with a green tint. Beautifully assembled; there are all sorts of nut – almond and brazil with whispers of olive.  Toffee, caramel, mocha, hints of malt, salinity; clean spirit integrated and the end result in is a lush triumph. Rich with depth and acidy preventing any cloying. From a terrific red year in the Barossa

Drink now, and 93 points.

Mid-priced imports

 

midrange imports

We’re recently allowed some small gatherings, but I opened these two wines at home recently; they are not monstrously expensive – (Kabinetts $35-70 depending on brand; the Fonseca LBVP was around $50 recently) – but sweeter German Rieslings and the uber-fashionable dry GGs can easily exceed $100; Vintage Ports from the sensational 2016 and 2017 vintages are, alas, closer to $200.

2008 JJ Prum Bernkastler Badstube Riesling Kabinett 8.5%
Gifted to me a while ago; my go-to Prum is the Wehlener Sonnenuhr, with occasional deviations to Graacher Himmelriech (Bernkastler Lay can be special too). 2008 was an “open” year, but Prum is usually backward, fully priced but usually delivers. Mosel Kabinett is “off-dry” but Prum tends to be sweeter than expected, and can still last many years.  Very pale, there is the tell-tale red apple and petroleum, nettle, earthiness and spice notes. The palate is highly acidic, with some grippiness- nashi pear, citrus, apple. Varietal, distinctly Mosel, but drink up while the fruit remains intact- the acidity is pretty dominant, which won’t be to everyone’s favour.

Drink to 2023,  88 points

2011 Fonseca Late-bottled vintage unfiltered 20%
2011 was a mighty year for Portuguese Vintage Port; late-bottled is an easier, more approachable, (and more affordable category), with a longer time in oak (or tank) to ameliorate some of the tannic stuffing. Confusingly, the LBV wines may be ready on release – or capable of cellaring. Unfiltered is a clue that some ageing is expected – yet there was no discernible sediment here, and the stopper was another surprise.

This wine was bottled in 2016, and is nearly crimson in colour. It displayed fig, blueberry, plum, violet and mixed spices and wild herbs; the palate showed cherry, milk chocolate, spices and sound spirit integration. 108 g/l residual sugar is neatly balanced with the fruit, and alcohol. Fine tannins add further interest. I was hoping for greater concentration, but it’s so easy to reach for another glass – a great test of a wine’s engagement.

Drink to 2025, and 90 points.

 

 

 

More recent splashes

2014-5 doisyblanck heggies1983 vps

All served blind – it may seem premature to serve young Barsacs, but these proved wholly delicious, with enormous capacity to live and improve for many years. Cellaring estimates are conservative, but no-one is immortal.

2014 Ch Doisy-daene 13.5%
Barsac, 100% semillon 144g/l rs; The website is very detailed, and I tasted this wine a few months ago with similar notes.  Enormously aromatic; tropical fruits, pineapple rind, touch of vanilla essence, green nettle, botrytis. Exciting, fine creaminess, honeyed with lovely racy acidity, some cashew oak,  spotless.

Drink to 2030, 93 points

2015 Ch Doisy-daene 13.5%
Barsac, 100% Semillon, 136 g/l rs. A slightly greener fruit profile than the wine above, ripe pear and more stonefruit white peach (and botrytis); this wine already seems more rewarding, with impressive fine honeyed texture, greater- but still balanced-ginger-spice oak, and richer depth and mouthfeel, with supporting acidity.

Drink to 2035, 94 points (and more to come)

2005 Paul Blanck Furstentum vendanges tardives Gewurtztraminer 12.5%
Alsace, screwcap! Half-bottle, purchased at the winery, from a special site. Light gold in colour, it displays musk, roses and oiliness. The palate is moderately sweet, but its persistent, varietal with a winningly appealing citrus twang

Drink to 2025, 92 points

2007 Heggies “242” botrytis riesling 8.1%
A half-bottle located after my records showed I had none left (previously reviewed on this site). Amber/light copper coloured. The 242 refers to the amount of retained sugar, which comfortably sits at the BA level, and from a site in the Eden Valley, South Australia – where mostly dry Rieslings are produced, but often a small amount of botrytised Riesling. It’s packed with orange essence and marmalade, very decadent; on the viscous palate there are apricot and stonefruits. It’s still fresh, ultra-sweet -but still balanced-  some hardness is emerging, so drink sooner, not later.

Drink to 2022, 92 points

1983 Stanton and Killeen Vintage Port 19%
Rutherglen, and a hot dry year. A solid bricky colour, but browning only on the rim. Ripe and sweet with some raisined fruit, iron and liquorice, sweet, chalky, lively but a little warm. But it’s 35 years old, and 100% shiraz. On the evidence of this bottle, no further improvement is likely, but it’s still a satisfying and rewarding wine

Drink now, 88 points

1983 Dow’s Vintage Port 20%
Portugal of course. Paler colour than the wine above, showing a more interesting fruit expression of blue and red fruits, and milk chocolate covered almonds. The palate is fine and detailed – and medium-bodied, but also suggests the acidity will hold while the fruit recedes. At this stage, the tannin is balanced, but every bottle will be different.

Drink to 2025, 92 points

Recent splashes

It seems I have been busy; so just a few quick impressions (of wines tasted blind) before more regular and detailed notes resume…

1988 hardys vp1965 campbells vp

1978 Hardy’s 125th anniversary Vintage Port
McLaren Vale. Raspberry jam and cherry liqueur; very sweet in style with liquorice and plum; terrific length; exceptional spirit integration – whacky bottle I’d never seen either.

Drink to 2030, 94 points

1965 Campbells Vintage Port
Rutherglen. Label clues are Cabernet and Shiraz “will improve for years to come”. Its not often I see a wine older than 50 years. It’s a very viscous, dense wine with its main impressions not fruit; mochas, coffee cream, toffee. This made its style not straightforward to discern- not the florals or richness of muscat or topaque (or acidity), not the rancio of a tawny style. Yet it didn’t look like a VP. IT seemed Australian with its relative sweetness, and brandy spirit. However it remained a lovely drink of indeterminate origin until revealed. Straightforward flavours, but its solidity and age a tribute to the style

Drink now, 91 points

1985 Gould Campbell Vintage port 20%
Despite reviewing this wine very favourably in February 2017, I didn’t identify it when it was served by a member of one of the tasting groups I frequent. Pale ruby colour and the mixed spices plus red and blue fruits indicated Portuguese varieties. Fig, almond, and the voluminous aromatics, albeit with a faint touch of rubber. Not quite as stellar as my last bottle, but still excellent

Drink now to 2027, 93 points

2005 Seppeltsfield Shiraz/touriga Vintage Port (screwcap)
Barossa (74% Shiraz, 23% Touriga, 2% Tinta barocca, 1% Tinta Cao) Abundant spices and almond character, but not the complexity of Portugal (and a bit sweeter too). Drinking well, but straightforward. My notes indicate this wine was purchased as a cleanskin for $8, and I have a few bottles in the cellar for more leisurely contemplation and reflections.

Drink to 2023, 90 points

2016 Crawford river “nektar” Riesling 12% (screwcap)
Henty, Victoria. 152 g/l rs. Very pale light lemon with green flashes, Nettles, sherbet, very sweet and viscous, mixed tropical fruits and lemon peel. Compelling length, a wonderfully realised botrytised wine where pure varietal character is not overwhelmed. Crawford River crafts outstanding dry Rieslings; this wine is still available on their website for a fair price considering its quality,

Drink to 2032, 94 points (and more when it relaxes in a few years)

1985 Taylor’s vintage port 20.5%, again

I reviewed this wine in April 2016, and again in August 2018- and my final bottle was very recently consumed. Notes turned out to be similar!

Taylor’s is a distinguished house, with a useful, informative website.

1985 taylors vp 2019

The label was a bit damaged; the cork “almost” came out Ok, and the results from this good – albeit not outstanding -Portuguese vintage?

The wine is a solid ruby colour, with vibrant aromatics including fig. cocoa, dried citrus peel, sweet spices, and an intrigue of mixed blue and red berries; the palate is medium bodied but more substantial than expected – it shows fruitcake, hazelnut and mellow mocha characters, with some spicy, malty, almost gravied hints. The spirit and fruit are deliciously integrated with a sweet, lingering finish.

Beautifully put together, the wine provides complexity and freshness; drinking superbly

Drink to 2035, and 94 points.