Tasting... Cruise... Hamlet... work work work work... BBQ... back to work... whew!
I'm finally caught up - more or less - after a splendid vacation.
Many thanks to Julian and Alex for their organizational prowess, without which none of the tastings that I propose in London would ever happen.
I must also reiterate my thanks to the ladies for joining us. We have managed to maintain, at least temporarily, the deception that we don't take this stuff too seriously. But only barely. There were placemats after all.
I very much enjoy the less formal atmosphere and the conversation that flows throughout the tasting. I also enjoy the mixed styles all in one sitting. It seems to help with palate fatigue, at least for me. 12-16 VP or Tawny in one sitting can be a chore - admittedly a chore that I am happy to perform - but a chore nevertheless. Mixing the styles and tasting 4-6 of each makes it easier for me.
The Mourao was as I remembered it. I almost gave it "only" 98 points, but it held up so well when the food arrived that I bumped it back up to 99. It seems that almost nothing affects it. Its power, complexity, finesse, and grace are a package seldom matched in the Port world.
The RP83 was also as I remembered it. I routinely have it at the top of the vintage, even when sighted and my fondness for Graham's Ports has a chance to win out via label bias. I did think that this particular G83 was a little rougher than normal, or perhaps a little more spirity than normal, but even so I still think I would have preferred the RP83. It's in a very good place right now.
The two LBVs surprised me. They held up very well in the presence of top tier Vintage Ports. Sadly old bottle-aged LBVs seem to be a thing only in the UK. I only see them very rarely in the US, and when I do they're typically late 90s or early 2000s. Not at all in the same class as these two.
The Sandeman 33 was a great experience. It is a very unique Port, perhaps more so than any other that I have tasted. Why? Because it was originally intended to be a 40-yr old, but to me it tastes almost nothing like a 40-yr old. It is brighter, lighter, drier, and livelier than any other 40-yr old that I've ever had. And that bottle... wow! Producers take note: you don't need a large, ornate, super fancy wood box in order to make an impact with your packaging! Thank you, Alex, for sharing such a rare bottle with us.
Lastly, thank you to Rob for providing another rare bottle for us even though you couldn't make it to the tasting. Ni64 is rare even by Garrafeira standards, and of course is personally interesting to me due to it being my birth year. One of these trips we're going to have to get together! Perhaps I should coordinate my next vacation with your cycling plans?
This gathering was the perfect start to a wonderful vacation!