Off Line at the Hotel Du Vin, Birmingham, Sat 31st March2007

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Fonseca 1980
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Joined: 23:51 Wed 20 Jun 2007

Off Line at the Hotel Du Vin, Birmingham, Sat 31st March2007

Post by Conky » 18:53 Sat 23 Jun 2007

KillerB, Derek and I managed to enjoy a few bottles one evening at the end of March,

Here are the thoughts of the evening,
Here are my TN's from the Offline.............

Graham's 1963
Double decanted and T-corked for 10 hours before 1st taste. Decanted very cleanly off lots of thick black crust which did not move from the side of the bottle. Absolutely no crust came through the neck! - Dark, bright ruby with a hint of brown - darkened as the night wore on. Initial taste was overwhelmed with spirit. Later, became very smooth and elegant with that classic Graham's plumy flavour. I think this would have shown better if left in a decanter open to the air rather than re-sealed.

Graham's Malvedos 1987
A lovely thick texture. Quite sweet and drinking beautifully. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this port right now. Perhaps the best drinking port of the night, definitely the best QPR port by a mile.

Dow's 1983
This was very dark, young and thick. Tannic and extremely dry. This is one of the few Dow's I have had and made me think I don't really like this particular house. I will be happy to be proved wrong over time!

Harvey's (Martinez) 1985
Definitely the surprise of the night. Alan described the provenance of this bottle as 7 years in a garage and 15 years in a kitchen cupboard. Not ideal and fears of "cooking" were in the forefront of the mind. The first surprise was the colour. Bright red with no hint of oxidation or distress. The mouth-feel was quite light but pleasant, not weak. The taste was very sweet and fruity, a beautiful drinking port that is perhaps at its peak. Not a keeper but in no way going down hill. This gave the Malvedos 87 a good run for its money in the drink now stakes, and I think this won the race!

Quinta do Noval Nacional 1987
Disappointing. The wine was cloudy with a strange taste. There were still elements of its power, especially in the texture and the finish, but overall it just didn't do it. A shame as this was the first NN for both Alan and Alex.

Fonseca 1970
For me this was the star of the show. Very dark and youthful in appearance although light is now beginning to penetrate the centre. Very smooth and chewy, black cherry and chocolate with just a little heat early on. As the night progressed this got better and better. I was lucky enough to take home a glass of this. After 2 to 3 days it still showed that fabulous tannic backbone that has preserved its youth for 37 years and will stay on for a few decades more. One thing that struck me on the night was, will I ever be old enough to drink an affordable Fonseca VP from a classic year at its peak? Having had the 1963, 1966 and 1970 in the past 2 years I am not sure I will - all of these still have years of life left in them, the 66 and 70 in particular are, IMHO, not yet ready - and the 63 can't really be described as affordable!

Fonseca 1985
The nose is completely closed on this wine, even after 24 hours. The huge dry tannins dominate everything but the finish is immense with wave after wave of mouthwatering sweetness - if only my lips weren't so dry it might be really enjoyable to drink now, but it isn't.

Fonseca 2000
Black as coal with a huge burst of raspberry on the nose. The tears on the glass are thick and red. This is a huge fruit bomb but I have a feeling it is about to go the same way as the 85 and close down for a while. I just can't help thinking that it's a sin to drink this for the next 20/30 years. It deserves time to grow up.

Best Bottle = Fonseca 1970

Best for Drinking Now = Harvey's 1985

Best Future Ahead = Fonseca 1985

The following is based on sparse notes and vague memories:

Graham's 1963
This was terrifyingly alcoholic when we first had a go at it. Colour was a dark amber with a pink tinge and was beautifully clear. Nose was almost pure brandy but the plums came good in the end, even if that was a few hours later. In the mouth the brandy was still around but later it was all plums and cherries. Eating a strong cherry chocolate went stunningly well and the flavours combined beautifully. Close call with the Fonseca 1970 for best wine and was more ready.

Graham's Malvedos 1987
Absolute bargain. Buy it by the bucket-load. I opened this at 9:30 in the morning, double-decanting it back into its own half-bottle. Cork was thin and hard but came out cleanly. Masses of dark fruits early on and no massive alcohol kick made this very easy to drink. Chocolate notes later meant that this came out as one of the most enjoyable on the night, pipped by the Harveys.

Dow's 1983
Oh 'eck. Another half that I dragged out of its slumber but note the same success. I've had plenty of Dow before, including a twin for this one. That time it was better but it didn't have such company. This time it seemed overly dry with the raisin flavours appearing to be a saving grace... except that I don't like raisins. Not actually very Christmassy.

Harvey's (Martinez) 1985
Fabulous. We were expecting a brown cooking/cooked Port of no specific merit. Couldn't have been more wrong. Colour was as expected for a lighter 1985. Nose was fresh with raspberry notes! Fruity and light but massively enjoyable this was perfect on the night and probably the best for drinking now, despite a brave but futile fightback from the England team... oops sorry, Single Quinta Malvedos. Went well with the praline chocolates.

Quinta do Noval Nacional 1987
Oh dear. Saddest Port of the night goes to the Nacional. First problem was that it was hazy, second was the overpowering brandy on the nose and in the back of the mouth. Tracie said "Prunes" and she was right. It never really recovered and I suspected a fault but couldn't pinpoint it - it wasn't corked, cooked nor bretty - but it was wrong.

Fonseca 1970
Eventually got there. Dark, brooding but clear as a bell. Strong alcohol with acid nose gave way to dark fruits but couldn't get the standard coffee and flowers I have always got from older Fonseca. In the end though it came good with cherries, caramel, chocolate and nuts - this was made all the more obvious with the chocolates. Still very youthful and one for the future despite being 37 years old already.

Fonseca 1985
About as dark as being in a coal-mine without a helmet-light, there may have been a purple colour in there but could equally have been a trick of the light. Nose was completely absent on first attempt. In the mouth it was better, very tannic and alcoholic but summer-fruit compote hanging around to make it pleasant. As it hung around it became much more fruity but the tannins kept it together. Eventually a very enjoyable bottle but wildly young.

Fonseca 2000
Black. Tracie burnt her nose smelling it. Tannins so strong it was like chewing a tea-bag. I really couldn't sum this up as enjoyable but it was interesting. Too much power and so young that Al-C should have called the vice squad. Could be amazing one day but I couldn't tell.

Best Bottle - Graham's 1963

Best for Drinking Now - Harvey's 1985

Best Future Ahead - Fonseca 1970

Best Value - Graham's Malvedos 1987

Don't drink until your children have a free bus pass - Fonseca 2000


My Tasting Notes for the same evening are,

Graham's 1963,
Lovely colour, smells too much of alcohol. Lads say it will calm down in a few hours. Hope so because I was expecting more. Oh, Dereks pouring a few more out, there's another seven to go! I can actually feel my eyes widening!
Now that is nice, oh, the fruity smoothness, Sod these Tasting Notes. The lads will cover for me...

The Sun has got his hat on, Hip hip hooray!

That was the end of the tasting notes but the start of around 6 hours of laughing and slurping.(Sorry!)

Best Bottle - Harveys 85 (Just a little light, but smashing)
Biggest Disapointment - Grahams 63
Crashing Failure - Fonseca 2000
Want a Case Please - Grahams Malv 87, and Fonseca 85
Best Snoring - Derek
Best attempt at Snooker Rule Bending - Alex
Best Hotel Bill Payer - Me


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