1983 Graham

Tasting notes for individual Ports, with an index sorted by vintage and alphabetically.
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Tasting notes for individual Ports, with an index sorted by vintage and alphabetically.
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Chris Doty
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1983 Graham

Post by Chris Doty » 00:16 Sun 26 Jan 2014

375ml

15% opaque. Fairly muted and astringent right out of the bottle. Worry creeps. Feels pretty ripe in the mouth but maybe 'all bass and no intrigue.' Too early to tell. Hope for the best.

After about two hours breathing, we get lush plum aromas (not candied, and not as deep and savory as the 94 Vesuvio) mixed with some menthol. Somewhat akin to a plum flavored york peppermint patty. It its not, however, an especially harmonious wine. The transitions towards the back of the wine are stilted, as it 'splash mountains' from its midpalate into a short and fruit-starved finish that signals this is not a perfectly stored bottle. 89 points


I have previously held that the 83G is my favorite wine from a rather modest vintage. When Julian likened it recently to '75, I was initially somewhat startled, but my records show me as owning just a small smattering of Pinto, Graham, and Gould (compared to literally zero bottles of 75). I'd buy the 83 Fonseca at a reasonable price ($60?), but for a few bucks more you can have the 85, which is a better wine and will live longer. As is also true of G94 re: G83. So, while I think it is unjust to equate 75 and 83, I agree that there isn't too much purpose in owning either vintage given the relative cost/value of other VPs.

LGTrotter
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Re: 1983 Graham

Post by LGTrotter » 16:25 Sun 26 Jan 2014

A wonderfully poised note if I may say. But like all good authors you have raised questions. I liked the description of stilted transitions, something I have observed in the 77 Graham but could not find such an elegant phrase for. I wondered about ‘splash mountains’ which is in quotes (why?) I assumed it was suggestive of a big heap of palate all at once with not much at the end of it, the craggy mountains suggestive of the 83 tannins. However I treated it like Shakespeare and skimmed over the bits that did not immediately leap out at me. This is more than recompensed by the sentence ‘worry creeps’. A feeling I recognise.

Strong words about the comparison with the seventy fives at the end. I can’t disagree with you though.
The port may have been 89 but the note rates 96.

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Re: 1983 Graham

Post by AW77 » 23:45 Sun 26 Jan 2014

I tasted the G83 last year in August at the Vinum Restaurant (in the new Graham's lodge), where it was on offer by the glass. My tasting note summed up the wine like this: "this wine is an imposter somehow. The nose promises more than the mouth and above all the finish can deliver." Swallowing this VP feels like unexpectedly falling off a cliff.
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RAYC
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Re: 1983 Graham

Post by RAYC » 01:56 Tue 28 Jan 2014

I hope (and think) that this was not representative - I'd still back this port as amongst the best of the decade. In my view (based on 5-6 bottles since 2012) better than all of G85/80, F85 and D80....but i accept there's room to argue amongst those. Nonetheless i think that well stored bottles (which do not necessarily include those stored in Oporto) are fantastic, albeit still rather backward at this time. If i'm picking ports from the 80s to buy, this is up there. And G94 also has bad days at the moment...

btw - 15% opaque - did you really mean that? Recent examples i have had have not quite been D80 darkness but certainly F85 darkness. In terms of benchmarks, I don't even think i'd consider many 63s as 15% opaque....
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Re: 1983 Graham

Post by Glenn E. » 07:01 Tue 28 Jan 2014

I agree with RAYC - this is one of the best Ports of the decade. My recent bottles of both this and G85 have left me wondering whether or not G83 might some day be better than G85. The bottles I've had have shown that much potential. 89 points for a G83 is clearly a flawed bottle, which you mentioned in your TN. I'd have argued for N/R had I been there.

I also don't agree with describing 1983 as a "modest" vintage. While it is certainly not comparable to 1970, "modest" is equally off the mark. My most recent experience leads me to believe that - overall - 1983 surpasses 1985 in quality. Yes, 1985 has half a handful of truly outstanding Ports, but 1983 has a wider selection of ones that are excellent. At least that's the way it has seemed to me.
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Re: 1983 Graham

Post by LGTrotter » 21:51 Wed 29 Jan 2014

I was going to leave this but I just can't.

The Graham 83 is a wet weekend of a wine, I am thinking of one Robert Parker, who asks how can a dry twig of a wine develop into a fruity beauty? I paraphrase a bit but I think I have the nub and the gist. I am surprised that I disagree with two such leading lights but there it is.

As for it being as good as the 85 Graham or Fonseca, well I ask you.

The 83s are definitely Maggie Gyllenhaall to the 85s Liv Tyler. They don't have the box office.

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Re: 1983 Graham

Post by djewesbury » 21:59 Wed 29 Jan 2014

LGTrotter wrote:The 83s are definitely Maggie Gyllenhaall to the 85s Liv Tyler. They don't have the box office.
Have you seen Secretary?
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Re: 1983 Graham

Post by LGTrotter » 22:06 Wed 29 Jan 2014

I have and frankly I think the film makers have misunderstood the quiet naughtiness of the peccadillo. And Maggie despite her strength as an actor is odd in the same way in all her roles.

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Re: 1983 Graham

Post by LGTrotter » 22:18 Wed 29 Jan 2014

Actually the 85s are more Eva Mendes, or Gabriel Byrne to the 83s James Woods.

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Re: 1983 Graham

Post by djewesbury » 22:18 Wed 29 Jan 2014

This is now just drivel. Meaningless drivel.
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Re: 1983 Graham

Post by LGTrotter » 22:22 Wed 29 Jan 2014

I think that finding meaningful comparisons between people and port are legitimate in this context, I was particularly pleased with myself regarding Eva Mendes.

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Re: 1983 Graham

Post by djewesbury » 22:24 Wed 29 Jan 2014

I think the 83 is Fred MacMurray as Walter Neff; the 85 is more Claude Rains in The Man Who Watched Trains Go By.
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Re: 1983 Graham

Post by LGTrotter » 22:26 Wed 29 Jan 2014

I'll get back to you as soon as I have watched both films.

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Re: 1983 Graham

Post by djewesbury » 22:33 Wed 29 Jan 2014

In fact Claude Rains in anything is pretty 85ish. Casablanca perhaps?
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Re: 1983 Graham

Post by Glenn E. » 22:41 Wed 29 Jan 2014

LGTrotter wrote:The Graham 83 is a wet weekend of a wine, I am thinking of one Robert Parker, who asks how can a dry twig of a wine develop into a fruity beauty? I paraphrase a bit but I think I have the nub and the gist. I am surprised that I disagree with two such leading lights but there it is.
My bulb is too dim to use for reading. Oh, you said leading. No, that's equally wrong. ;)

For all the real, actual cellars you guys have over there, you sure seem to drink a lot of off bottles. :roll: I don't know what to say... I have had great success with F85 and G85 (and TV87 to include my top 3 of the decade). Right now, those are still the top 3. But my most recent bottles of G83 have been good enough to rank it in the top 5 for the decade even against the likes of D80, GC80, D85, etc., and it seems to be improving. I don't know that it will ever break into my top 3, but based on recent experience it seems like it has a chance.
Glenn Elliott

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Re: 1983 Graham

Post by LGTrotter » 01:03 Thu 30 Jan 2014

LGTrotter wrote: I am surprised that I disagree with two such leading lights but there it is.
Now I come to think of it I am hardly surprised at all. I like disagreeing with people.
Glenn E. wrote: But my most recent bottles of G83 have been good enough to rank it in the top 5... I don't know that it will ever break into my top 3, but based on recent experience it seems like it has a chance.
And who am I to deny it such a chance, but it is the lack of fruit, the disjointed palate, above all the shortness which would make me pause for its future. I don't think they have all been faulty, I have drunk them from 3 different sources. Albeit I started on them a bit young. Time will tell.

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Re: 1983 Graham

Post by Chris Doty » 07:22 Thu 30 Jan 2014

LGTrotter wrote:
I wondered about ‘splash mountains’ which is in quotes (why?)
...

The port may have been 89 but the note rates 96.
Thanks for reading/sharing.

Splash Mountain is enjoyable and then there is a clear shift that portends disaster, and then there is a crash. It fails in key respects as a winealogy, but I had celebrated NYE2014 at Disneyland, and I guess the ride lingered in my mind.

But I could sense from the nose that the bottle wasn't quite correct. It is a bit hard to explain, but it felt a little less 'there' there -- the lushness, it sort of appears in a way on the nose - almost like some clouds that existed over the wine itself. Somehow obscuring the fruit, and the tension, the dynamism of the wine.

I generally don't score bottles I think aren't correct, but I have always made exceptions for old vintage port, as I feel it can still be possible and insightful to distinguish relative merits and demerits of wines.

Where I come from, 89 points (for any wine) is high praise. It means a very very very very good wine. The score should also be treated as provisional/not-indicative, as I said, I think the G83 is a great wine. Somewhere in the 92-93ish zone I'd expect, which would be about where I'd put best performing 2nd tier 1970 bottles, but below best 85G, 85F, 94V, 92F, etc etc. to give some sense of reference.

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Re: 1983 Graham

Post by Chris Doty » 07:33 Thu 30 Jan 2014

RAYC wrote:I hope (and think) that this was not representative - I'd still back this port as amongst the best of the decade. In my view (based on 5-6 bottles since 2012) better than all of G85/80, F85 and D80....but i accept there's room to argue amongst those. Nonetheless i think that well stored bottles (which do not necessarily include those stored in Oporto) are fantastic, albeit still rather backward at this time. If i'm picking ports from the 80s to buy, this is up there. And G94 also has bad days at the moment...

btw - 15% opaque - did you really mean that? Recent examples i have had have not quite been D80 darkness but certainly F85 darkness. In terms of benchmarks, I don't even think i'd consider many 63s as 15% opaque....
I don't disagree at all Rob.

There's no doubt this wine had some faults that are not found in the best bottles of the G83 (certainly not the fabulous examples I've enjoyed at very reasonable prices at their new and spanking clean lodge).

It is a buy to me, but not above $75, and hopefully for a good deal less unless I'm buying straight off the syms.

As for the opacity, to be honest, I have a hard time guessing what '15%' represents. It means that the wine was starting to show obvious (to me anyway) signs of bottle age. Not that it was dead, by any means, the core was quite solid and only towards the outer 40% or so of the wine was the impact of age particularly obvious. That said, I don't think it's going to hold up especially well. I suspect it'll reach a top speed in about 5 more years, and then stay there for maybe 15 more before I think the fruit will slip and the finish I had on this bottle above will become increasingly familiar. But still, a great wine. Will be keen to try another example soon. 88)

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Re: 1983 Graham

Post by Chris Doty » 07:46 Thu 30 Jan 2014

Glenn E. wrote:I agree with RAYC - this is one of the best Ports of the decade. My recent bottles of both this and G85 have left me wondering whether or not G83 might some day be better than G85. The bottles I've had have shown that much potential. 89 points for a G83 is clearly a flawed bottle, which you mentioned in your TN. I'd have argued for N/R had I been there.

I also don't agree with describing 1983 as a "modest" vintage. While it is certainly not comparable to 1970, "modest" is equally off the mark. My most recent experience leads me to believe that - overall - 1983 surpasses 1985 in quality. Yes, 1985 has half a handful of truly outstanding Ports, but 1983 has a wider selection of ones that are excellent. At least that's the way it has seemed to me.
Thanks for the input, Glenn. I think we agree on the merits of the G83, as I have previously found it to beat out its younger brother on occasion at the dinner table. As for scoring, I think "Flawed" is sensible as well, I just didn't want to rob this wine of the credit I thought it deserved for how well it held up despite its condition.

As for the 83 vintage, I would be happy to organize a tasting, and I have had great experiences with the Graham, Gould, Fonseca, and Ramos Pinto. But would I take 83 over 92 or 94 or 70 or 77 or even 80? I don't think so. Certainly not over 00 or 03, and likely not over 97 either. 85 is tough because I think the Graham and the Fonseca are wines with special potential. Both have gone in and out of phases, which isn't great, but they are standouts. The rest of 85 is a mixed bag shipper-wise, and is bottle-to-bottle for basically everyone.

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Re: 1983 Graham

Post by Glenn E. » 17:16 Thu 30 Jan 2014

Chris Doty wrote:As for the 83 vintage, I would be happy to organize a tasting, and I have had great experiences with the Graham, Gould, Fonseca, and Ramos Pinto. But would I take 83 over 92 or 94 or 70 or 77 or even 80? I don't think so. Certainly not over 00 or 03, and likely not over 97 either. 85 is tough because I think the Graham and the Fonseca are wines with special potential. Both have gone in and out of phases, which isn't great, but they are standouts. The rest of 85 is a mixed bag shipper-wise, and is bottle-to-bottle for basically everyone.
I can't say for certain. I do think that I would take '83 over '80. Certainly not '70, '77, or '94.

Over '85? Very close call for me, which is the crux of my argument. '85 has two very clear standouts in F85 and G85, and a third that is excellent in D85. '83, as you point out, as four that are excellent with G83 bordering on outstanding. In some cases I might even call RP83 outstanding, but I recognize that RP83 might simply hit the sweet spot for my palate.

It's the lower tiers that are interesting, though. I think that '83 is more even below the top handful. As you say, '85 can be a real mixed bag and below the top handful there seems to be a LOT of variation. I'll be hosting a 1985 horizontal early next year, so hopefully I'll get a clearer picture then. (Having already participated in a 1983 horizontal last year.)

FWIW I concur with your description of what 89 means, and also where G83 usually ranks (92-93). I use words first, then apply numbers, and 89 is the top end of "very good" for me (85-89). I'll drink an 89 any time you want to open one! It is almost excellent, and while some think that is damning with faint praise, it shouldn't be read as such. 93 on the other hand, is almost outstanding for me, which is the word I use for 94-96 pts between excellent (90-93) and magnificent (97-99).
Glenn Elliott

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Re: 1983 Graham

Post by LGTrotter » 00:36 Fri 31 Jan 2014

You guys just can't let it lie. The 83s are dull at the bottom end, dull in the middle, dull at the top. And they're all in bed by half past nine. At least the 85s have some sashay and wear their hats at a rackish angle.

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Re: 1983 Graham

Post by djewesbury » 00:54 Fri 31 Jan 2014

LGTrotter wrote:You guys just can't let it lie. The 83s are dull at the bottom end, dull in the middle, dull at the top. And they're all in bed by half past nine. At least the 85s have some sashay and wear their hats at a rackish angle.
He meant rakish. Didn't he?
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Re: 1983 Graham

Post by LGTrotter » 00:57 Fri 31 Jan 2014

djewesbury wrote:
LGTrotter wrote:You guys just can't let it lie. The 83s are dull at the bottom end, dull in the middle, dull at the top. And they're all in bed by half past nine. At least the 85s have some sashay and wear their hats at a rackish angle.
He meant rakish. Didn't he?
You always do this to me. Just like my mother.

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Re: 1983 Graham

Post by djewesbury » 17:41 Fri 31 Jan 2014

LGTrotter wrote:
djewesbury wrote:
LGTrotter wrote:You guys just can't let it lie. The 83s are dull at the bottom end, dull in the middle, dull at the top. And they're all in bed by half past nine. At least the 85s have some sashay and wear their hats at a rackish angle.
He meant rakish. Didn't he?
You always do this to me. Just like my mother.
Is this any way to speak to me in front of your friends?
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Re: 1983 Graham

Post by AHB » 00:10 Sat 01 Feb 2014

djewesbury wrote:
LGTrotter wrote:You guys just can't let it lie. The 83s are dull at the bottom end, dull in the middle, dull at the top. And they're all in bed by half past nine. At least the 85s have some sashay and wear their hats at a rackish angle.
He meant rakish. Didn't he?
No. A rackish angle is something specific to the milliners of the wine world.
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