Cellar Defenders

Anything to do with Port.
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JacobH
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Re: Cellar Defenders

Post by JacobH » 16:34 Fri 04 Sep 2020

winesecretary wrote:
23:23 Thu 03 Sep 2020
I have many times over the past quarter-century or so encountered on Madeira absolutist statements by wine makers that, when challenged with documentary (or bottled) evidence to the contrary they row back from in a way that makes that clear that the absolutist statements were simplifications for the English-speaking market. I think the 'you should drink tawny fairly soon after it's bottled' thing may ultimately be something similar. It's a good general rule but a long way from a universal truth.
I agree. A dominant theme in the marketing of most specialist categories of wine for decades has been to simplify them. I have some sympathy with this. For example, how many :tpf: members would be able to describe, accurately, the difference between a colheita and vintage Madeira?

You are also right that it sometimes goes too far. For example, I think I am right in saying that Taylor’s LBV was invented so that it could be sold on the basis that it didn’t need either further maturation or decanting. However, we all know that a bit of both improves it considerably.

However, I do think there is something in the differing tastes of producers and consumers. I am sure if you are a producer you end up drinking so much newly-bottled Port that you easily end up with a differing palate from the average consumer.
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Re: Cellar Defenders

Post by Glenn E. » 17:38 Fri 04 Sep 2020

Andy Velebil wrote:
03:51 Fri 04 Sep 2020
if took a Prime 30 day dry aged steak and cooked it to beyond well done because that’s how I like it; I’m quite sure you and probably every other cook and butcher would say I destroyed that piece of meat by cooking it too what I like. Just saying.
You might be surprised. I used to prefer my steaks medium to medium well because that's how my Mom cooked them when I was growing up. I've only recently (the last 20 years or so) started eating them medium rare.

So if you cooked your steak extra well done I might look at you funny and say that's not how most people cook their steaks, but if you like it that way then you should cook it the way you like it.

Just don't put ketchup on it. :wink:

(I used to do that, too, before I discovered steak sauce.)
uncle tom wrote:
04:27 Fri 04 Sep 2020
cloying
Each to his own, but my interpretation of the word 'cloying' is an excess of sugar that has no integration in the wine. It is very much a characteristic of young tawnies rather than aged ones, and another reason why I prefer to drink them matured.
Google's definition is what I've always understood it to mean: an excess of sweetness, richness, or sentiment. I think in most cases it's because the producer was going for some particular style and maybe it didn't quite work out right. I've also noticed that sometimes the same wine can seem fine or cloying depending on what other wines (or foods) I'm having at the same time, so I think there's a relative component to it as well.

To me it also implies texturally more viscous than normal. A sweet, rich, heavy wine.
JacobH wrote:
16:34 Fri 04 Sep 2020
winesecretary wrote:
23:23 Thu 03 Sep 2020
I have many times over the past quarter-century or so encountered on Madeira absolutist statements by wine makers that, when challenged with documentary (or bottled) evidence to the contrary they row back from in a way that makes that clear that the absolutist statements were simplifications for the English-speaking market. I think the 'you should drink tawny fairly soon after it's bottled' thing may ultimately be something similar. It's a good general rule but a long way from a universal truth.
I agree. A dominant theme in the marketing of most specialist categories of wine for decades has been to simplify them. I have some sympathy with this. For example, how many :tpf: members would be able to describe, accurately, the difference between a colheita and vintage Madeira?

You are also right that it sometimes goes too far. For example, I think I am right in saying that Taylor’s LBV was invented so that it could be sold on the basis that it didn’t need either further maturation or decanting. However, we all know that a bit of both improves it considerably.

However, I do think there is something in the differing tastes of producers and consumers. I am sure if you are a producer you end up drinking so much newly-bottled Port that you easily end up with a differing palate from the average consumer.
I only know the difference between Colheita and Vintage Madeira because I've started buying more of it lately. But yes, the terminology for Madeira can be confusing especially for a Port lover.

I think a lot of what we hear from the producers is meant for the average or even entry-level consumer, including the adage that tawnies should be consumed as close to the bottling date as possible. But advice for the average consumer doesn't really apply to us geeks, and I think it is easier for us geeks to educate newcomers than it is for the producers to do so. The producers need to have a simple, common, consistent message because they have to communicate with thousands of people all the time. We can provide more complete information and help guide newcomers into a deeper understanding of our passions.
Last edited by Glenn E. on 17:41 Fri 04 Sep 2020, edited 1 time in total.
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uncle tom
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Re: Cellar Defenders

Post by uncle tom » 17:40 Fri 04 Sep 2020

I think I am right in saying that Taylor’s LBV was invented
As far as I can make out, the only thing Taylor invented was the idea of using a T-stopper on a premium quality ruby port. Everything else had been done before.

However the mass marketing of the product did cause some upset at the time. Other producers felt they were exploiting and devaluing the word 'Vintage'
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Re: Cellar Defenders

Post by JacobH » 17:48 Fri 04 Sep 2020

uncle tom wrote:
17:40 Fri 04 Sep 2020
As far as I can make out, the only thing Taylor invented was the idea of using a T-stopper on a premium quality ruby port. Everything else had been done before.

However the mass marketing of the product did cause some upset at the time. Other producers felt they were exploiting and devaluing the word 'Vintage'
I didn’t know that about the t-stopper! You are quite right that there was nothing particularly innovative about the product: the “invention” was combining different things that already existed in the Port industry and marketing in a way which has dominated the British market for 50+ years.

I wonder how many of those other producers were making “Vintage Character” Ports? ;-)
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Re: Cellar Defenders

Post by uncle tom » 19:42 Fri 04 Sep 2020

I wonder how many of those other producers were making “Vintage Character” Ports?
I'm not at all sure when the term 'Vintage Character' was first used. I am preserving a couple of good examples in the interests of posterity, since 99.9+% of it has now been drunk. That said, I'm not sure I've ever seen a Vintage Character bottle that clearly predated the arrival of the Taylor LBV in about '69 (IIRC)

- What came first?
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Re: Cellar Defenders

Post by Andy Velebil » 21:02 Fri 04 Sep 2020

uncle tom wrote:
I think I am right in saying that Taylor’s LBV was invented
As far as I can make out, the only thing Taylor invented was the idea of using a T-stopper on a premium quality ruby port. Everything else had been done before.

However the mass marketing of the product did cause some upset at the time. Other producers felt they were exploiting and devaluing the word 'Vintage'
IIRC, they were the first to make a filtered and stabilized LBV. Well, at least the first to mass produce and market one (it is the Douro so odds are someone did it at some point before, hah!).

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Re: Cellar Defenders

Post by JacobH » 21:12 Fri 04 Sep 2020

uncle tom wrote:
19:42 Fri 04 Sep 2020
I'm not at all sure when the term 'Vintage Character' was first used. I am preserving a couple of good examples in the interests of posterity, since 99.9+% of it has now been drunk. That said, I'm not sure I've ever seen a Vintage Character bottle that clearly predated the arrival of the Taylor LBV in about '69 (IIRC)

- What came first?
I think the first “modern” Taylor LBV was the 1965 which a few of us tried a few years ago.

I’d really like to know more about non-Vintage Port before the 1986 codification of the Port regulations. I think it is mostly a document exercise since, as you say, most of these wines have been long drunk to extinction.

The 1962 Croft price list which I posted elsewhere gives four different “Vintage Character” Ports (together with one “Vintage Type”). I wonder if they were using it as we might use the word “ruby” now, to mean “this is not a tawny”.
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Re: Cellar Defenders

Post by Andy Velebil » 21:24 Fri 04 Sep 2020

Jacob,
It would be a futile exercise. Many producers had lots of different names/labels for different countries and markets that were all the same product inside the bottle. There was surprising little or no regulation of when one had to bottle, what they could call it, etc. and we’re only talking the actual producers, not what a wine merchant who bought 4 barrels would do. That largely ended shortly after 1949 when the rules were made more formal as to categories and how they were allowed to be made.

Most producers have reduced the different labels, modern communication makes it confusing for the consumer and difficult to publicize. However, there are some that still do and it’s confusing as heck. Niepoort with their Fahblehauf (spelling?) series of dry wines (all the same juice) and Quinta d. Mourao who also sells the same port under the names Rio Bom and S. Leonardo in diff markets.

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Re: Cellar Defenders

Post by JacobH » 22:36 Fri 04 Sep 2020

I am sure it was quite a complex mess but it must have been capable of being unpicked in the past, so why not today.

For example, in that Croft advert, they sold four types of white port, identically described. The only difference was price. I presume the more expensive ones were not just prying on the gullible who thought more expensive = better, so there must have been a difference in what was in the pipe. But what was it? Were the more expensive Ports older? Or were they just made from better grapes?

Equally, when we look at the tawnies, how old were the blends? What was the equivalent of our modern 10 / 20 / 30 / 40 YO? Did they drink the tawnies younger or older?

I think there probably was a lot more crusted Port than now exists, but I also wonder if there was a lot more of blending the ruby and tawny Ports than happens today. Some stuff must have kicked around in pipes for longer than happens these days (e.g. whilst waiting to be sold and shipped in Gaia or waiting to be bottled by the merchant on receipt), even if it hadn’t been matured in small casks beforehand.
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Re: Cellar Defenders

Post by Glenn E. » 22:40 Fri 04 Sep 2020

Andy Velebil wrote:
21:24 Fri 04 Sep 2020
Niepoort with their Fahblehauf (spelling?) series of dry wines (all the same juice) and Quinta d. Mourao who also sells the same port under the names Rio Bom and S. Leonardo in diff markets.
Does Dalva still use Presidential in the US, too? Another one for the list.
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Re: Cellar Defenders

Post by JacobH » 22:56 Fri 04 Sep 2020

Glenn E. wrote:
22:40 Fri 04 Sep 2020
Andy Velebil wrote:
21:24 Fri 04 Sep 2020
Niepoort with their Fahblehauf (spelling?) series of dry wines (all the same juice) and Quinta d. Mourao who also sells the same port under the names Rio Bom and S. Leonardo in diff markets.
Does Dalva still use Presidential in the US, too? Another one for the list.
Possibly a closer approximation to what happened in the past are the BoB Ports (which I don’t think you get very many of in the States). Sometimes they are something else relabeled; sometimes they are a generic Port available for wholesale purchase for BoB purposes; sometimes they are a bespoke blend. It is never really possible to know...
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Re: Cellar Defenders

Post by Andy Velebil » 00:14 Sat 05 Sep 2020

JacobH wrote:
Glenn E. wrote:
22:40 Fri 04 Sep 2020
Andy Velebil wrote:
21:24 Fri 04 Sep 2020
Niepoort with their Fahblehauf (spelling?) series of dry wines (all the same juice) and Quinta d. Mourao who also sells the same port under the names Rio Bom and S. Leonardo in diff markets.
Does Dalva still use Presidential in the US, too? Another one for the list.
Possibly a closer approximation to what happened in the past are the BoB Ports (which I don’t think you get very many of in the States). Sometimes they are something else relabeled; sometimes they are a generic Port available for wholesale purchase for BoB purposes; sometimes they are a bespoke blend. It is never really possible to know...
We get a little bit, mostly Costco where their 10 yr was made by Fonseca. However I was told it is a different blend than the regular Fonseca 10 yr. having had both they don’t taste the same.

We don’t get the crazy good ones like you guys get. :(

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Re: Cellar Defenders

Post by Andy Velebil » 14:18 Sat 05 Sep 2020

Glenn E. wrote:
Andy Velebil wrote:
21:24 Fri 04 Sep 2020
Niepoort with their Fahblehauf (spelling?) series of dry wines (all the same juice) and Quinta d. Mourao who also sells the same port under the names Rio Bom and S. Leonardo in diff markets.
Does Dalva still use Presidential in the US, too? Another one for the list.
I’ve never seen* Dalva for retail sale here in the States so assume they still use the Presidential label in the States.

*there are a few older Dalva’s listed on Winesearcher but I assume those are greymarket bottles brought over and of course the odd bottle at auction over the years.

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Re: Cellar Defenders

Post by jdaw1 » 21:26 Sat 05 Sep 2020

uncle tom wrote:
19:42 Fri 04 Sep 2020
I'm not at all sure when the term 'Vintage Character' was first used.
The term is used in some invoices sent to Sir Winston Churchill 1936–’38 (, ), copies of which are exhibited in the Graham’s Lodge. (These documents were unknown to the Symingtons until my letter of 22nd November 2009: housepoint me.)

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Re: Cellar Defenders

Post by JacobH » 12:05 Mon 07 Sep 2020

jdaw1 wrote:
21:26 Sat 05 Sep 2020
uncle tom wrote:
19:42 Fri 04 Sep 2020
I'm not at all sure when the term 'Vintage Character' was first used.
The term is used in some invoices sent to Sir Winston Churchill 1936–’38 (, ), copies of which are exhibited in the Graham’s Lodge. (These documents were unknown to the Symingtons until my letter of 22nd November 2009: housepoint me.)
Is the Churchill family of Johnny Graham’s wife the same Churchill family of Winston?
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Re: Cellar Defenders

Post by AHB » 15:50 Mon 07 Sep 2020

JacobH wrote:
12:05 Mon 07 Sep 2020
Is the Churchill family of Johnny Graham’s wife the same Churchill family of Winston?
Sadly, it is not. If they are related branches of the same family, the link is lost to the family in the mists of time.


And I love the fact that this thread has drifted so far - or are we saying that Churchill is a favoured cellar defender of ours?
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Top Ports in 2020 (so far): Croft 1945 and Niepoort VV (1960s bottling)

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Re: Cellar Defenders

Post by nac » 14:54 Tue 08 Sep 2020

My current Port defender is Justerini & Brooks Directors Tawny. Working through a half case and another nearly finished bottle is in my fridge under VacuVin.

Like @winesecretary most of my drinking and cellar is still red. Rhone often comes to the defence of the better bottles, and the current preferred victim is Jaboulet's Thalabert 2006.

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Re: Cellar Defenders

Post by winesecretary » 16:16 Tue 08 Sep 2020

@ nac - Thalabert, but of course! I have almost run through my halves of 2014, I have just taken delivery of 36 halves of 2017 purchased EP from TWS...

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Re: Cellar Defenders

Post by AHB » 22:17 Wed 09 Sep 2020

Yesterday I took delivery of 24 bottles of mature Rioja to act as cellar defenders (23 are left). I'm also drinking my Ports from 2000 and younger as cellar defenders — but next year the 2000 vintage becomes "ready for drinking" so can't really been regarded as cellar defenders.
Top Ports in 2019: Niepoort VV (1960s bottling) and Quinta do Noval Nacional 2017
Top Ports in 2020 (so far): Croft 1945 and Niepoort VV (1960s bottling)

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Re: Cellar Defenders

Post by uncle tom » 02:49 Thu 10 Sep 2020

but next year the 2000 vintage becomes "ready for drinking" so can't really been regarded as cellar defenders
I'm running three years behind you. I will start 'exploratory' trials of the '97 vintage next year, with stashes of Dow and Niepoort lined up ready for sampling. At the same time the '91 vintage will enter into mainstream drinking, having then turned 30.
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Re: Cellar Defenders

Post by Glenn E. » 05:18 Thu 10 Sep 2020

AHB wrote:
22:17 Wed 09 Sep 2020
next year the 2000 vintage becomes "ready for drinking" so can't really been regarded as cellar defenders.
I don't really see the 2000 vintage as being "ready for drinking" at a mere 21 years old. I'm inclined to agree with Tom - 30 years is a more suitable age to declare most good VP ready, though off vintages (which 2000 is not) or lower-tier producers can reduce that age a bit.

I'm even getting to the point that I feel like quality unfiltered LBV needs 20 years of age.

This of course ignores those that you drink very young because they're so lush and delicious for those first few years. :D
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Re: Cellar Defenders

Post by PhilW » 08:53 Thu 10 Sep 2020

AHB wrote:
22:17 Wed 09 Sep 2020
but next year the 2000 vintage becomes "ready for drinking" so can't really been regarded as cellar defenders.
I disagree; almost anything could be a cellar defender depending on what you own and how often you drink. To me a cellar defender is whatever you have that helps stop you from drinking the more-limited items you own. One person might be drinking their favourite ruby reserve or LBVs to defend from touching their stock of 2000s before their prime; another might be drinking 85s and 94s to defend their precious 70s; another their 70s to defend their 45s, and so on. I think it's all a question of degree based on what stock you have, and how frequently you drink.

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Re: Cellar Defenders

Post by AHB » 10:02 Thu 10 Sep 2020

I completely agree with all three of you. My statement — which was in quotes to try to emphasise the point — was based on the folklore that Vintage Port becomes ready for drinking in its 21st year. Everyone has their own preference, and this preference might even vary from vintage to vintage or year to year.

Will I choose to open my 2000s next year? I'll probably open a couple, I picked up a few bottles of the Sainsbury Taste the Difference 2000 and this is delicious even this year, before it becomes "ready for drinking". But I might also breach some of my 2003s, since these are quite approachable.

I don't have enough of any particular Port to regard it as a cellar defender. My largest single parcel is 2½ cases of Fonseca 1985. I feel that's too good to be treated as a cellar defender. Everything else I own is in smaller quantities, so would fall into the category of a more-limited item.

Or I will just open another bottle of Rioja...
Top Ports in 2019: Niepoort VV (1960s bottling) and Quinta do Noval Nacional 2017
Top Ports in 2020 (so far): Croft 1945 and Niepoort VV (1960s bottling)

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Re: Cellar Defenders

Post by uncle tom » 11:15 Thu 10 Sep 2020

I'm even getting to the point that I feel like quality unfiltered LBV needs 20 years of age.
I agree. A few LBVs are made with rubbish juice that really shouldn't pass the IVDP, and some are over-filtered/fined. From the producers that take the style seriously, most should be drunk between 20 and 40 years.

Given that Graham is now the anointed crown jewel in the Symington stable, I do find it odd that the Graham LBV is still a low end filtered offering.

Logic would suggest making Cockburn their supermarket volume brand, and elevate the Graham to a superior age-worthy wine.
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Re: Cellar Defenders

Post by rich_n » 11:48 Thu 10 Sep 2020

uncle tom wrote:
I'm even getting to the point that I feel like quality unfiltered LBV needs 20 years of age.
I agree. A few LBVs are made with rubbish juice that really shouldn't pass the IVDP, and some are over-filtered/fined. From the producers that take the style seriously, most should be drunk between 20 and 40 years.

Given that Graham is now the anointed crown jewel in the Symington stable, I do find it odd that the Graham LBV is still a low end filtered offering.

Logic would suggest making Cockburn their supermarket volume brand, and elevate the Graham to a superior age-worthy wine.
I guess the Niepoort 2015 LBV I just received today will have to wait then!

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