Is anything from the '90s worth opening today?

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AHB
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Is anything from the '90s worth opening today?

Post by AHB » 15:20 Mon 15 Sep 2014

Here Mike asks the very valid question whether any vintage port from the 1990s is worth opening at the moment. The 1997 offline generally indicated that 1997 was not a year worth approaching today.

However, I have enjoyed a number of ports from the 1990s this year and would recommend that if you feel the urgent need to open something from your vintage port collection that reads 199X that you try one of the following:
Symington wines from 1991
Taylor 1992
Most things from 1994
The Taylor and the 1994s would reward more patience but I really enjoyed the Churchill 1994 I had the other day. Most of the 1991 Symington wines I've had are enjoyable now but I don't anticipate them getting any better over the next decade or two.

And of course, there are all those LBVs and Crusteds that keep being offered for sale in Sainsbury's...
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Re: Is anything from the '90s worth opening today?

Post by DRT » 16:18 Mon 15 Sep 2014

Morgan 1991

haven't tried Graham 1991 for a while but suspect it would be worth a pop as it didn't seem like it would be for the long term last time I tried it.
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Re: Is anything from the '90s worth opening today?

Post by Glenn E. » 16:36 Mon 15 Sep 2014

I think some of the 1994s are "worth opening," but I also think that in most cases it's still way too soon. You'll be able to enjoy the bottle, but you'll enjoy it much more if you want at least another 10 years before opening it.

But then, I've never really been a fan of "merely" 20 year old Vintage Port. My threshold is usually closer to 30 years old, or at least 25+. I don't believe that I've ever found the 21-year rule of thumb to be accurate.
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Re: Is anything from the '90s worth opening today?

Post by LGTrotter » 18:11 Mon 15 Sep 2014

I think I had a Churchill 91 from a half bottle which was very pleasant. I would have thought that halves would be more approachable if anyone has thought to buy them. I don't, tending to feel that halves are like 'fun sized' confectionery, not much fun when you're looking for the other half. The opposite is also true, magnums, jeroboams (I do not include Tappit hen as the name alone makes them a delight), being like the gigantification of chocolate bars, a bit unwieldy for everyday use.

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Re: Is anything from the '90s worth opening today?

Post by AHB » 18:29 Mon 15 Sep 2014

LGTrotter wrote:...magnums, jeroboams (I do not include Tappit hen as the name alone makes them a delight), being like the gigantification of chocolate bars, a bit unwieldy for everyday use.
Owen - are you ready for this - I agree with you.

I find there is something slightly deflating about a big bottle that looks like a big bottle. In the days of yore magnums were much more attractive than they are today. They were wider and shorter, looking more like a pota bottle than our beloved 75cl standard Bordeaux square shouldered bottle. They had wider necks and needed hand-made corks to fit them. Those were proper magnums, made to be appreciated by proper port drinkers (like we are; the port drinkers of yore are still with us).

Sadly, modernisation has castrated the appearance of the large format bottle. They are now clinically shaped, with necks designed by accountants so that they can be plugged by a standard, machine made cork that will fit any size glass receptacle. The Dow Magnumonicon Tasting empties that I rescued from The Bung Hole shortly before its demolition shows this evolution well. The 1963 magnum was moulded, but moulded badly so it was asymmetric and was more appealing for that quirk. By the time the 1994 was bottled (should that be magnumed?) the magnum was beautifully made and was sealed with a standard size cork. Where is the romance in that? Bring back badly made bottles!

But I hear there is hope. Some brave souls who produce (or work for producers of) Port are looking at the option to bring back small runs of unusual bottles. 2.1 litres would probably not be a permitted size, but 2.25 litres would be. Might we see some new, pota proportioned, Tappit Hens at a date in the near future? I hope so. This would be a great way to generate interest within the collector and consumer communities for a year that was a small, almost declared vintage like 2008 was.
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Re: Is anything from the '90s worth opening today?

Post by djewesbury » 20:27 Mon 15 Sep 2014

AHB wrote:
LGTrotter wrote:...magnums, jeroboams (I do not include Tappit hen as the name alone makes them a delight), being like the gigantification of chocolate bars, a bit unwieldy for everyday use.
Owen - are you ready for this - I agree with you.

I find there is something slightly deflating about a big bottle that looks like a big bottle. In the days of yore magnums were much more attractive than they are today. They were wider and shorter, looking more like a pota bottle than our beloved 75cl standard Bordeaux square shouldered bottle. They had wider necks and needed hand-made corks to fit them. Those were proper magnums, made to be appreciated by proper port drinkers (like we are; the port drinkers of yore are still with us).
Yes, yes, yes! As I put away some mags and double mags on Monday I noticed exactly this. The Offley 63 mags were a totally different shape to the Sandeman 70 mags, and to the Warre 77 mag that was already down there. But the Sandeman Vau 00 double mag was different in, er, a different way, the one that Alex has identified.
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Re: Is anything from the '90s worth opening today?

Post by LGTrotter » 22:55 Mon 15 Sep 2014

AHB wrote:
LGTrotter wrote:...magnums, jeroboams (I do not include Tappit hen as the name alone makes them a delight), being like the gigantification of chocolate bars, a bit unwieldy for everyday use.
Owen - are you ready for this - I agree with you.
I think we agree far more than may be evident from some of our exchanges. Your point about the loss of romance regarding wonky bottles is most persuasive. I have always yearned for tappit hens on account of the name but having seen some of those chubby fellows all waxed up and on your shelves my yearning has deepened. I thank God nobody here uses that pitiful mash up of a word tregnum in association with them. But I have wandered from the topic.

Leave the nineties wines alone, except in desperation, or if you like them that way.

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Re: Is anything from the '90s worth opening today?

Post by LGTrotter » 23:07 Mon 15 Sep 2014

AHB wrote:However, I have enjoyed a number of ports from the 1990s this year
And how many of them would be better for another ten years loitering in the shed? Pretty much all of them I would suggest. I do not like the 91s much but I think even these will develop into something better. Tom has somewhere suggested that they are under rated, I think a comparison was being made with the 92s, which has given me patience with the few I have.

PS; I see from searching that some have favoured the use of the term tregnum rather than tappit hen :roll: ...

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Re: Is anything from the '90s worth opening today?

Post by Glenn E. » 06:05 Tue 16 Sep 2014

LGTrotter wrote:PS; I see from searching that some have favoured the use of the term tregnum rather than tappit hen :roll: ...
Perhaps because they are not the same size? At least not classically.
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Re: Is anything from the '90s worth opening today?

Post by djewesbury » 08:37 Tue 16 Sep 2014

Glenn E. wrote:
LGTrotter wrote:PS; I see from searching that some have favoured the use of the term tregnum rather than tappit hen :roll: ...
Perhaps because they are not the same size? At least not classically.
Oh really? Are you perhaps saying that a Tappit Hen is three times a 70cl, and a tregnum three times a 75cl?
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Re: Is anything from the '90s worth opening today?

Post by AHB » 09:47 Tue 16 Sep 2014

But that is precisely my understanding. A Tappit Hen is 2.1 litres, a tregnum is 2.25 litres.

And back to the original topic. Most vintage ports from the '90s will improve with more time in the dark. However, the original question was whether anything was worth opening today not whether it will be better in the future. There are a number of ports from the '90s which I enjoy drinking today and believe that are worth opening and consuming.

If you don't open a bottle of Vesuvio '94 every year, how will you know how it is evolving?

And for clarity I should declare that I am defining "worth" as meaning "enjoy while consuming".
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Re: Is anything from the '90s worth opening today?

Post by uncle tom » 10:28 Tue 16 Sep 2014

Right now I'm not really enthused about anything from the 90's, if I had to choose a bottle it would probably be the excellent 1990 Niepoort LBV, of which I sadly now have very few remaining. (Note to self: - must ask Dirk if he has any left..)

There are some sound '91s but others that are a bit ugly or dirty on the palate - something that was also very evident at the '97 tasting - I hope these wines grow up for the better, as many of the '75s are now doing. The '94s are beginning to grow out of their spotty teen phase, but I doubt any will be the worse for another ten years in the cellar.

'92 is not a bad year, but the wines have always sold above their weight..
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Re: Is anything from the '90s worth opening today?

Post by Andy Velebil » 11:46 Tue 16 Sep 2014

Many of the 1995's are drinking nicely right now while waiting for some of the top producers of the classically declared years to come round.

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Re: Is anything from the '90s worth opening today?

Post by John M » 13:45 Tue 16 Sep 2014

I had a 1991 Croft and 1994 Grahams this past week. The Grahams was fine but really needs more time to be at "peak".

The Croft was more evolved and in a good spot--closer to its apex--although again, a few more years would do it more justice.

Both were heartily enjoyed. On Friday, the Croft was better....in 10-20 years that should reverse.

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Re: Is anything from the '90s worth opening today?

Post by Glenn E. » 15:33 Tue 16 Sep 2014

djewesbury wrote:
Glenn E. wrote:
LGTrotter wrote:PS; I see from searching that some have favoured the use of the term tregnum rather than tappit hen :roll: ...
Perhaps because they are not the same size? At least not classically.
Oh really? Are you perhaps saying that a Tappit Hen is three times a 70cl, and a tregnum three times a 75cl?
The size of a Tappit Hen has changed over time. I believe it was originally 3 quarts, but were those Imperial quarts or not? 2.83 liters is the number I've seen, so "not" appears to be the correct answer.

Most recently (circa 1970) a Tappit Hen was as AHB says - 3 times a "standard" 70 cl bottle. When the "standard" bottle size was increased to 75 cl for the 1973 vintage, the Tappit Hen was adjusted accordingly.
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Re: Is anything from the '90s worth opening today?

Post by LGTrotter » 18:37 Tue 16 Sep 2014

A tappit hen is a three bottle bottle. As is a tregnum. Nuff zed.

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Re: Is anything from the '90s worth opening today?

Post by Glenn E. » 20:39 Tue 16 Sep 2014

LGTrotter wrote:A tappit hen is a three bottle bottle. As is a tregnum. Nuff zed.
A tappit hen is a bottle named after the knob on top that made it look a bit like a hen. Its size has varied over the years from 3 quarts (2.83 liters) to 3 x 70 cl bottles (2.1 liters). Its current size corresponds to three 75 cl bottles.

A tregnum is a three bottle bottle.

What distinguishes the two is the shape of the bottle. A tappit hen has a distinct shape from which it derives its name, though I'm not sure that anyone uses an actual tappit hen shape anymore. A tregnum is a generic "large bottle" shape that happens to hold 2.25 liters. Some people now call squat 2.25 liter bottles tappit hens, though that is not technically correct.
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Re: Is anything from the '90s worth opening today?

Post by idj123 » 20:44 Tue 16 Sep 2014

None of the 97s we tried to wade through at the tasting were ready with the exception of the second tier SV97 (which I look forward to having again). I think the same was true of those tasted at the 94 tasting, which apart from the Crusted G98 (which is excellent) primarily leaves the 91/92 and all maybe a little clearer if we can pin down a date for this tastingl :wink:

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Re: Is anything from the '90s worth opening today?

Post by djewesbury » 20:45 Tue 16 Sep 2014

The W94 ready I thought.
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Re: Is anything from the '90s worth opening today?

Post by LGTrotter » 21:04 Tue 16 Sep 2014

djewesbury wrote:The W94 ready I thought.
Really? I thought it was one of the big hitters of 94 and was to be left until the last moment and then a bit more. But one man's dudelsack is another man's symbol of impending nationhood.
Glenn E. wrote:
LGTrotter wrote:A tappit hen is a three bottle bottle. As is a tregnum. Nuff zed.
A tappit hen is a bottle named after the knob on top that made it look a bit like a hen. Its size has varied over the years from 3 quarts (2.83 liters) to 3 x 70 cl bottles (2.1 liters). Its current size corresponds to three 75 cl bottles.

A tregnum is a three bottle bottle.

What distinguishes the two is the shape of the bottle. A tappit hen has a distinct shape from which it derives its name, though I'm not sure that anyone uses an actual tappit hen shape anymore. A tregnum is a generic "large bottle" shape that happens to hold 2.25 liters. Some people now call squat 2.25 liter bottles tappit hens, though that is not technically correct.
Now Glenn, I don't want this to continue. The case has been stated clearly and succinctly. I do not want to have to call upon the massed ranks of George Saintsbury, the Symingtons, the history of Scottish drinking vessels to resolve this. But if I must fetch the cane from the cupboard then so be it...

(I should of course add that the attention to detail in Glenn's post is terrific and worthy of a good argument)
Last edited by LGTrotter on 22:24 Tue 16 Sep 2014, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Is anything from the '90s worth opening today?

Post by LGTrotter » 22:24 Tue 16 Sep 2014

I wonder Glenn if you are confabulating the Scottish drinking vessel which had a knop on the hinged lid and of distinctive shape which held three quarts. It was the knop reminiscent of the crest of a hen which gave it the name. Then there is the bottle which is considered by George Saintsbury to be the perfect size and contained three bottles. Now Saintsbury was referring to claret primarily but the same size relates to port in the literature I have seen. It is true that the volume of a standard bottle fluctuates depending on where and when you measure it but the rule of thumb is that a tappit hen is three bottles.

It is interesting that this all seems to emanate from Scotland and that three quarts was considered a reasonable drink for someone. Perhaps it was more like a yard of ale, every pub had one but no one ever used it.
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Re: Is anything from the '90s worth opening today?

Post by djewesbury » 22:29 Tue 16 Sep 2014

Now a yard is three feet. So perhaps this is something to do with three-footed hens, which I believe were common in Scotland at a certain time, until the English cut the funding for hens and everyone was left legless.
I think that's what I read in Mr Gove's British History.
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Re: Is anything from the '90s worth opening today?

Post by LGTrotter » 22:33 Tue 16 Sep 2014

And I think that Professor Dewesbury has spoken for the whole meeting there.

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Re: Is anything from the '90s worth opening today?

Post by RonnieRoots » 01:47 Wed 17 Sep 2014

Back to the original question.

For me it depends on what you're looking for in a port. As much as I like fully aged port, I sometimes look to drink something that still shows fresh fruit and has a tannic kick. Many of the SQ's from the 90s offer that right now. To mind come:
- Fonseca Guimaraens 91
- Grahams Malvedos 92
- Warre's Cavadinha 95

Although the top 94s seem to be in a closed phase now and need at least another decade to shine, there are some lesser gods that are really enjoyable now, eg Martinez and Croft.

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Re: Is anything from the '90s worth opening today?

Post by DRT » 10:05 Wed 17 Sep 2014

+1 to the martinez 94 suggestion, I seem to recall working my way through two cases of it rather quickly a handful of years ago.
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