Which LBVs are worth cellaring?

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christopherpfaff
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Re: Which LBVs are worth cellaring?

Post by christopherpfaff » 13:36 Tue 10 May 2016

For the vast majority of them, about 20-ish years really is the longest they should be kept. Will they drink nicely past that, yes. But what I often find with the older ones (25+ years) is they just don't have the capacity to retain my drinking interest like an older VP does. They tend to become very linear when they get really old. So I don't really see any reason to keep them for very long term.
I totally agree with you and my tasting experience is the same (e.g. we did a big comparing tasting VP vs. LBV in September 2015 at Quevedos winery with same conclusions).

But I observe some changes of the LBV category. For me (and in the past) a "classic" LBV is the third or fourth best Ruby style wine of a Port house (often produced more than 150.000 bottles per year). But things changed now with so much very good smaller producers, for whom the LBV is the TOP end Port wine in there portfolio (often only bottled in very small quantities). This is technically a LBV, but in fact these are like "Vintage Ports" (only stay some more months in cask and bottled with LBV label because they have no "Vintage Port consumers").

To answer the topic, depends very much on the producer and his LBV philosophy.
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Re: Which LBVs are worth cellaring?

Post by LGTrotter » 16:08 Tue 10 May 2016

christopherpfaff wrote:But I observe some changes of the LBV category. For me (and in the past) a "classic" LBV is the third or fourth best Ruby style wine of a Port house (often produced more than 150.000 bottles per year). But things changed now with so much very good smaller producers, for whom the LBV is the TOP end Port wine in there portfolio (often only bottled in very small quantities). This is technically a LBV, but in fact these are like "Vintage Ports" (only stay some more months in cask and bottled with LBV label because they have no "Vintage Port consumers").

To answer the topic, depends very much on the producer and his LBV philosophy.
Well put. This is the nub for me; good LBVs are simply vintage ports which have been left in the barrel for a few years longer. Saintsbury's favourite port was one that had been in barrel for seven years (I think) and as you say the quality of the more recent LBVs are splendid and I fancy they will keep well.

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Re: Which LBVs are worth cellaring?

Post by Glenn E. » 18:34 Tue 10 May 2016

christopherpfaff wrote:For me (and in the past) a "classic" LBV is the third or fourth best Ruby style wine of a Port house (often produced more than 150.000 bottles per year).
3rd or 4th? Assuming VP is 1st, what else is there?

Or are you counting SQVP and 2nd label VP (e.g. Guimaraens) as separate styles? To me those are still VP and I expect VP-level performance from them, adjusted for the year.
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Re: Which LBVs are worth cellaring?

Post by LGTrotter » 19:24 Tue 10 May 2016

Glenn E. wrote:
christopherpfaff wrote:For me (and in the past) a "classic" LBV is the third or fourth best Ruby style wine of a Port house (often produced more than 150.000 bottles per year).
3rd or 4th? Assuming VP is 1st, what else is there?

Or are you counting SQVP and 2nd label VP (e.g. Guimaraens) as separate styles? To me those are still VP and I expect VP-level performance from them, adjusted for the year.
I think that traditionally they would go in the following order
1) Vintage port
2) SQVP (Malvedos, Vargellas, etc.).
3) Crusted port
4) LBV
5) Ruby

These distinctions seem to be becoming less, well, distinct these days.

Edit; Of course I forgot the tawnies,
439) Tawnies, SHTs, barrels found at the back of sheds and all the other claptrap. :wink:
Last edited by LGTrotter on 21:21 Tue 10 May 2016, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Which LBVs are worth cellaring?

Post by Andy Velebil » 20:04 Tue 10 May 2016

LGTrotter wrote:Well put. This is the nub for me; good LBVs are simply vintage ports which have been left in the barrel for a few years longer. Saintsbury's favourite port was one that had been in barrel for seven years (I think) and as you say the quality of the more recent LBVs are splendid and I fancy they will keep well.
I would disagree with that statement.

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Re: Which LBVs are worth cellaring?

Post by LGTrotter » 21:18 Tue 10 May 2016

Andy Velebil wrote:
LGTrotter wrote:Well put. This is the nub for me; good LBVs are simply vintage ports which have been left in the barrel for a few years longer. Saintsbury's favourite port was one that had been in barrel for seven years (I think) and as you say the quality of the more recent LBVs are splendid and I fancy they will keep well.
I would disagree with that statement.
Go on. I can handle honest criticism.

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Re: Which LBVs are worth cellaring?

Post by Andy Velebil » 22:47 Tue 10 May 2016

LGTrotter wrote:
Andy Velebil wrote:
LGTrotter wrote:Well put. This is the nub for me; good LBVs are simply vintage ports which have been left in the barrel for a few years longer. Saintsbury's favourite port was one that had been in barrel for seven years (I think) and as you say the quality of the more recent LBVs are splendid and I fancy they will keep well.
I would disagree with that statement.
Go on. I can handle honest criticism.
:lol: I think it's a simplistic view of LBV's (speaking of unfiltered ones only, I think we can agree that filtered LBV's are their own thing in regards to this discussion).

When you look at some producers who's LBV's are better than their VP's you have to understand that those producers are often selling their best grapes to other producers to use or diverting them to other uses such as table wines or a different type of Port. So their lesser grapes are then focused on making a fantastic LBV. VP production is still done, as one really has to to be perceived as a "real" producer, but they aren't trying to be a leader in VP's as that is not their main focus. Crasto is a really good example of this.

Most producers aren't specifically earmarking their very best VP grapes, only to waste all that time and money on turning it into an LBV if they don't have to. That is not to say that those grapes that don't make the top cut aren't declassified or even some of the best grapes actually be diverted to LBV production due to excess once enough VP is produced. The classic example that happens in almost every upper end winery in the world is when, for example, you use three different varietals to make your wine. You've got 100 tons of each, 300 tons total. But your blend that year is 70% "A" grapes, 20% "B" grapes, and 10% "C" grapes. You've now got 30/80/90 tons of each grape leftover. Deduct stuff that doesn't cut it...After aging and testing and tasting, some of that won't be of the quality you want to use in your top wine. So lets say you're now down to 00/50/70 tons left. You have no more top cut "A" grapes so you can't make more of your top wine. That doesn't mean you are out of "A/B/C" grapes, you still have 30/80/90 tons left if you didn't sell it off, but some of its not top quality you want so you can't keep making more top wine. What do you do? You could sell some or all of it off or you simply "declassify" it and make a second label/tier wine. One with a slightly different blend, or even the same blend, that is still very good but not up to the standards or style of the top wine.

Port also has other issues with regards to Beneficio that may play into what a producer makes or buys each year. And market demand and what stocks they need to replenish or bottle for a specific customer. And years that are good but not great where a VP or even an SQVP is not produced or produced in very small amounts leaving a lot of decent grapes left over. These things and more make it a very complicated issue that can't be summed up by saying LBV is simply VP left in barrel longer.

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Re: Which LBVs are worth cellaring?

Post by Glenn E. » 23:10 Tue 10 May 2016

LGTrotter wrote:
Glenn E. wrote:
christopherpfaff wrote:For me (and in the past) a "classic" LBV is the third or fourth best Ruby style wine of a Port house (often produced more than 150.000 bottles per year).
3rd or 4th? Assuming VP is 1st, what else is there?

Or are you counting SQVP and 2nd label VP (e.g. Guimaraens) as separate styles? To me those are still VP and I expect VP-level performance from them, adjusted for the year.
I think that traditionally they would go in the following order
1) Vintage port
2) SQVP (Malvedos, Vargellas, etc.).
3) Crusted port
4) LBV
5) Ruby

These distinctions seem to be becoming less, well, distinct these days.
Hmm... I don't have any experience with Crusted, but just from what I've heard I would have put it no better than on par with LBV. It seems like something the producers do when nothing else worked out quite right (aka "failed VP"), whereas LBV is something they do deliberately and with purpose. So while I suppose the original intent for the grapes might have been "better" than LBV, the end result is... maybe? Maybe not?
LGTrotter wrote:Edit; Of course I forgot the tawnies,
Beyond the understanding of the English) Tawnies, SHTs, barrels found at the back of sheds and all the other claptrap. :wink:
Fixed that for you. :wink:
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Re: Which LBVs are worth cellaring?

Post by jdaw1 » 23:34 Tue 10 May 2016

Glenn E. wrote:Crusted […] seems like something the producers do when nothing else worked out quite right (aka "failed VP"), whereas LBV is something they do deliberately and with purpose. So while I suppose the original intent for the grapes might have been "better" than LBV, the end result is... maybe? Maybe not?
Disagree. Crusted can be multi-year VP. Year y they blended the (SQ)VP. There was an excess of some parts of the blend, left in barrel. Year y+1 they blended the next (SQ)VP. There was an excess of different parts of the blend. It could be that year y’s excess would blend very well with year y+1’s excess. Because the parts come from different years, that could not be called VP, but could be nearly as good.

Rephrased, crusted is to VP as (very approximately) tawny-with-indication-of-age is to colheita.

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Re: Which LBVs are worth cellaring?

Post by flash_uk » 23:38 Tue 10 May 2016

jdaw1 wrote:
Glenn E. wrote:Crusted […] seems like something the producers do when nothing else worked out quite right (aka "failed VP"), whereas LBV is something they do deliberately and with purpose. So while I suppose the original intent for the grapes might have been "better" than LBV, the end result is... maybe? Maybe not?
Disagree. Crusted can be multi-year VP. Year y they blended the (SQ)VP. There was an excess of some parts of the blend, left in barrel. Year y+1 they blended the next (SQ)VP. There was an excess of different parts of the blend. It could be that year y’s excess would blend very well with year y+1’s excess. Because the parts come from different years, that could not be called VP, but could be nearly as good.

Rephrased, crusted is to VP as (very approximately) tawny-with-indication-of-age is to colheita.
The thing I've always wondered in that scenario is how/why the producer decides to make a crusted rather than leaving both y and y+1 in barrel longer, and making each into an LBV.

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Re: Which LBVs are worth cellaring?

Post by jdaw1 » 23:44 Tue 10 May 2016

flash_uk wrote:
jdaw1 wrote:Disagree. Crusted can be multi-year VP. Year y they blended the (SQ)VP. There was an excess of some parts of the blend, left in barrel. Year y+1 they blended the next (SQ)VP. There was an excess of different parts of the blend. It could be that year y’s excess would blend very well with year y+1’s excess. Because the parts come from different years, that could not be called VP, but could be nearly as good.

Rephrased, crusted is to VP as (very approximately) tawny-with-indication-of-age is to colheita.
The thing I've always wondered in that scenario is how/why the producer decides to make a crusted rather than leaving both y and y+1 in barrel longer, and making each into an LBV.
Becasue LBV has to come from a single year. If there’s an excess of varietal A from one year, and varietal B from another year, they cannot meet in a VP nor in a LBV. They can meet in a Crusted.

Not all Crusteds are excellent. But a goodly number are, and even mature ones. See, for example, a tasting note (author: flash_uk) of Dow Crusted 1985: “had I tasted this blind I would have been guessing maybe T70 or D70”.

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Re: Which LBVs are worth cellaring?

Post by jdaw1 » 23:50 Tue 10 May 2016

And this Graham Crusted 1927 seems to be in fair shape for a ‘budget VP’ of that age.


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Re: Which LBVs are worth cellaring?

Post by flash_uk » 23:59 Tue 10 May 2016

jdaw1 wrote:Becasue LBV has to come from a single year. If there’s an excess of varietal A from one year, and varietal B from another year, they cannot meet in a VP nor in a LBV. They can meet in a Crusted.
Yes I get that, but the blend from y could be an LBV, and the blend from y+1, another LBV.

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Re: Which LBVs are worth cellaring?

Post by RonnieRoots » 00:25 Wed 11 May 2016

I would agree that 20 years seems to be the sweet spot for good unfiltered LBVs. I have a number of Niepoort LBVs from the 1990s that are just lovely to drink now, as well as Smith Woodhouse 1995, which is still beautiful. The LBVs from the early 2000s that I own (Warre, Niepoort and Javali amongst others) all still seem to have upward potential. So to answer the original question: Yes, in my opinion good, unfiltered LBVs are definitely worth cellaring.

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Re: Which LBVs are worth cellaring?

Post by jdaw1 » 00:40 Wed 11 May 2016

flash_uk wrote:Yes I get that, but the blend from y could be an LBV, and the blend from y+1, another LBV.
But then the first LBV would be all varietal A (and so unbalanced); and the second LBV would be all varietal B (and so unbalanced). But a Crusted can have both varietals, A and B, and so be better balanced.

Obviously, this simplifies: Crusteds can have grapes of more than two harvests.

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Re: Which LBVs are worth cellaring?

Post by Glenn E. » 02:53 Wed 11 May 2016

jdaw1 wrote:Rephrased, crusted is to VP as (very approximately) tawny-with-indication-of-age is to colheita.
Perfectly explained, especially with the subsequent post further clarifying the varietal aspect. Thank you.
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Re: Which LBVs are worth cellaring?

Post by flash_uk » 06:30 Wed 11 May 2016

jdaw1 wrote:
flash_uk wrote:Yes I get that, but the blend from y could be an LBV, and the blend from y+1, another LBV.
But then the first LBV would be all varietal A (and so unbalanced); and the second LBV would be all varietal B (and so unbalanced). But a Crusted can have both varietals, A and B, and so be better balanced.

Obviously, this simplifies: Crusteds can have grapes of more than two harvests.
OK if year y was only a single varietal left over then that makes sense, but that wasn't the scenario you described above, which was y and y+1 being excess blend.

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Re: Which LBVs are worth cellaring?

Post by LGTrotter » 12:38 Thu 12 May 2016

To return to Andy's excellent post about LBVs, which I would not presume to disagree with, but I do think that LBVs (unfiltered ones) seem to be getting better. I thought as there is much less VP being made these days presumably this means there are more good quality grapes to use for LBVs. I also think that Christopher's point that for some producers LBVs are their flagship wines is significant in growing the quality of these wines.

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Re: Which LBVs are worth cellaring?

Post by griff » 13:16 Thu 12 May 2016

I think the information here is marvellous. Particularly the houses to explore. I personally think of crusted and LBV ports as singing to a similar hymn sheet; an accessible vintage port style. Now a crusted does it via blending vintage ports including some with some age, whereas an LBV does it with wood maturation prior to bottling. Some houses decide to filter the LBV for increased accessibility but some might say that would strip up front flavour let alone longevity.

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Re: Which LBVs are worth cellaring?

Post by Monique » 13:38 Mon 12 Sep 2016

Having red this threat I was wondering wether the 2011 (unfiltered) LBV's are better options for cellaring than for example the 2010 or 2009 LBV's, as 2011 is a classic year for VP. Is this good thinking?
I had some LBV's from Warre 1992 and Smith-Woodhouse 1995 which I both enjoyed very much, but are they generally better (or age better?) from a classic vintage year?

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Re: Which LBVs are worth cellaring?

Post by LGTrotter » 00:14 Tue 13 Sep 2016

Monique wrote:Having red this threat I was wondering wether the 2011 (unfiltered) LBV's are better options for cellaring than for example the 2010 or 2009 LBV's, as 2011 is a classic year for VP. Is this good thinking?
I had some LBV's from Warre 1992 and Smith-Woodhouse 1995 which I both enjoyed very much, but are they generally better (or age better?) from a classic vintage year?
I don't know but Alex (AHB) has made several references to the excellent quality of the 2011 LBVs and he is wise in all matters concerning port. I have been wondering about the 2011 Berrys LBV, if anyone has an opinion I would be glad to hear it. It is made by Noval.

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Re: Which LBVs are worth cellaring?

Post by AHB » 06:51 Tue 13 Sep 2016

I've been stunned at the quality of recent vintages of LBV port. I haven't had chance to post the tasting note yet, but I tried the Warre 2011 filtered LBV yesterday and was really impressed. Not a long term keeper but lots of acidity which means there's no hurry to drink it.

I don't have enough experience with 30 year old LBVs to be able to say whether those from a declared vintage will age better than those from other years. What I can say is that the years 2008-2011 have produced some superb LBV ports which would be worthy additions to anyone's cellar for short term drinking or medium term aging - call it a 0-30 year planning horizon.

Sorry Owen, I've not tried the BBR 2011 LBV.
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Re: Which LBVs are worth cellaring?

Post by Monique » 14:17 Tue 13 Sep 2016

Oke, thank you, I will try to find some unfiltered LBV's like Warre, Noval, Crasto and Smith-Woodhouse both from 2011 and 2008 or 2009 f.i.
Time will tell..

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Re: Which LBVs are worth cellaring?

Post by LGTrotter » 14:39 Tue 13 Sep 2016

Is there any way of telling how different LBVs are handled? What are the different processes they undergo? I have heard of pasteurisation, filtering, stabilisation but I would like to find those that are minimally messed about with as I suppose that these have a better chance of development with keeping. I have looked at labels and some seem very clear, stating clearly they are unfiltered. Others seem deliberately vague, with general statements about 'premium product' and the like.

Or is it simply a case of knowing which companies are the right ones to buy from? I know most of the big names to look out for but would be grateful for the names of smaller players which I sometimes see but avoid for lack of knowledge.

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Re: Which LBVs are worth cellaring?

Post by AHB » 21:52 Tue 13 Sep 2016

You have to be a little careful when looking for port which has been traditionally treated but bottled late. The fact that a port states on the back label that it was bottled unfiltered is almost certainly true - but it might have been cold stabilised and fined instead of being filtered.

I know a handful of producers who treat their LBV the same way as they do their vintage ports except they leave them in wood for a little longer. Sandeman, Offley, Ferreira, Warre, Smith Woodhouse, Quevedo and Noval all come immediately to mind.

If you come across a small producer and you'd like to know whether they are a "traditional" producer, name them in this thread and ask. If we know, we'll say.
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