The London launch of the 1863 Taylor colheita was a very slick and professional presentation. Adrian Bridge provided a commentary over a nicely chosen selection of photographs of Vila Nova de Gaia, the Douro and events around the world from 1863. Adrian also provided some very interesting information about the Port market and the growth of the Tawny With Indication of Age sector.
I managed to note the following snippets from Adrian's presentation:
- Junco has been contributing grapes to the Taylor wines since the 2000 vintage.
- Aged tawnies have been stored for a few years (5?) in the new TFP storage facility near Sao Joao de Pesqueira. This is proving to be a very successful facility as temperature and humidity can be perfectly controlled and has also removed pressure on space in Vila Nova de Gaia to the extent that some of the real estate is for sale or is being converted to other uses. Wines to be used for the aged tawnies are treated similarly to the ruby ports - aged in the Douro in the winter to fall bright and then moved to Vila Nova de Gaia / Sao Joao de Pesqueira. There they are allocated to a product range - ruby, ruby reserve, LBV, VP, tawny, 10yo, 20yo, 30yo, 40yo etc. The TWIOA wines are assigned to a product range and aged for the appropriate time. The wines are racked yearly, with an oxidative action - basically splash decanted into a big tub - blended together and then put back into cleaned casks. Each year the blend is adjusted slightly where necessary with a bit of this or a bit of that and then left to slumber for another year until ready to be bottled.
- Taylor's lose around 1,000 litres per year to evaporation from barrels of tawny!
- Asia is growing to become an important market for 40 year old tawny (which currently retails for around £140 per bottle - the price has been increasing following growing demand for a very limited supply with a long lead time to increase output!). 2013 saw sold a total of 3,400 cases of 40 year old - 28% went to the US, 24% to Portugal, 9% to Canada, 7% to the UK, 5% to France, 3% to Russia, 3% to Switzerland, 10% to other parts of Europe and 11% to other parts of the world (mainly Asia).
- Demand for aged tawnies is growing and broke through the 500,000 case per year barrier in 2013.
I also had the chance to chat to Adrian briefly after the presentation. I hadn't realised that Taylor's have continued to sponsor Jazz FM's dinner jazz programmes over the winter and was delighted to hear that they will be starting a third season of sponsorship this Autumn. Adrian has promised to send me a link to a Taylor / Jazz FM micro site where you can listen to past episodes of the Taylor broadcasts. When I receive it I will post it on the main site. We also spoke about the general move of port production towards quality and away from volume and the problems this will cause for farmers and wine producers as the resulting social changes happen. Revenue is growing while volume is dropping, which hopefully means that margins are also growing. Neither had I realised that the current average ex-cellars price for Douro DOC wine is nearly as high as the average ex-cellars price for Port. Given the price of grapes for table wine is substantially less than for Port, this means the margin on table wine is substantially higher than Port.
1863 was a cold winter, remaining cold right up until flowering in May. This was followed by a hot, dry summer. The Douro river was so low and slow that it was reported to be able to be crossed in places without having to roll up your trousers to keep them dry. It was an early harvest - September 14th in the Baixo Douro. The grapes were harvested in the best condition since 1834 although the size of the harvest was quite small because of the drought. Adrian confirmed that this wine was bought in by Taylor's. After the presentation Adrian observed that the Taylor price of circa £3,000 per bottle was cheaper than Wiese & Krohn, who had been offering these to the market at £16,000 for the twin pack of 1896 White / 1863 Tawny.
The tasting note for the 1863 Taylor colheita
can be found here
. A glass of the Taylor 40 year old tawny
was also tasted alongside the 1863 colheita and the tasting note for the tawny is here
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)