This was good fun and I’m glad I just about managed to survive it...I don’t think I’ve ever started
a tasting feeling quite like I did, let alone a 32-bottle one...
Anyway, huge thanks to Derek and Ben for pulling it together (and to anyone else who helped out, behind-the-scenes) and for everyone who donated some extra bottles.
I was struck by the elegance of all the Fonsecas, even from the minor years. That seems to be quite a distinctive house-trait, particularly from 1961 onwards, and something I will look out for in the future. I also found it interesting that, unlike many vertical tastings, there wasn’t much of a gentle gradient in colours, with the sheets being dotted by darker and lighter Ports.
To my mind--and it appears I was a bit out-on-a-limb with this view--Fonseca has had some really good runs of years in odd periods, particularly 1976-1978 and 1963-1968 where almost everything produced is excellent. I wasn’t so convinced by the late 1980s Guimaraens, although the 1985 classic blend is excellent.
One thing that I hadn’t previously considered was how much the release size can vary. I had assumed that products like Guimaraens were produced in very standard quantities each year, perhaps conforming to a general curve of overall increase or decrease. However, it seems to vary considerably from vintage to vintage, depending on what the grapes are like and what the company decides to do. This may explain why some vintages of SQVP are seemingly inexplicably scarce whilst others are very common.
I was interested hearing from Adrian Bridge about the blending of vintage ports, that they always start by trying to make a classic blend and, if that fails, then move onto the SQVP, and a bit more about the Scion