Wed 2nd May 2012 - The Big Fortified Tasting 3

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Alex Bridgeman
Constantino 1927
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Wed 2nd May 2012 - The Big Fortified Tasting 3

Post by Alex Bridgeman » 23:10 Sat 12 May 2012

The 3rd Big Fortified tasting took place in London on 2nd May 2012. 53 exhibitors showed around 300 wines, including 45 vintage or LBV ports (5 of which were from outside the Douro). My tasting notes are below, and will be transferred to the tasting notes forum gradually.

Allesvorloren 2008 Swartland. Wonderful perfumed nose, full of hyacinths and plums. Delicious palate, spicy acidity, lots of cinnamon and plentiful fruit. Nice sharp focus from the acidity. Lovely tart raspberry aftertaste and sherbert lemon finish. Really good! 89

Axe Hill 2005 Deep red in colour, with damsons on the nose. Fruit forward impact, with a bitter streak on the side of the tongue. Plenty of fruit dominates the firm tannin. Nice structure and a great finish, full of flavoursome and of tremendous length. Very enjoyable and with lots of blueberry. 87

Bomfim 2001 Still very dark. Open and fragrant nose, really attractive. Soft fruity impact, really fruit forward. Soft tannins support beautifully sweet fruit. The balance is fabulous. Long, lovely finish. Great wine, described by Paul Symington as having great minerality. 91

Cavadinha 1996 Very perfumed, lifted nose, full of sweet fruit. Soft fruit on the palate, with a spicy core. The tannins are soft, with the structure coming mostly from the acidity. Not one to keep for the long term. Easy to drink now with sweet, slightly baked fruit. 86

Churchill 1991 Holding good colour. Almost biscuit showing on the baked nose. Sweet and ripe fruit on the palate and surprisingly strong tannins. Lovely baked fruit finish and a great length. Mature, but with plenty of life ahead of it. 85

Churchill 2007 Subdued nose; fierce tannins dominate the early palate. The fruit is lovely on the late palate before a big finish and aftertaste. An enjoyable port. 87

Churchill Crusted 2004 Bottled in 2004. A touch of VA on the nose, very baked in tone. A bitter edge to the entry, bitterness dominates over the very reserved fruit that only shows very late. Fruit and dark chocolate in the light aftertaste. 83

Churchill LBV 2003 Bottled 2007. Attractive and evolved nose, full fo fruit. Gentle entry, spicy tannin and sweet fruit that is dominated a little by the fierce acidity. Nice finish. Soft and gentle, easy to drink now. 89

Churchill LBV 2007 Bottled 2012. Deep intense red. Very attractive nose, full of fruit. Lovely fruit structure immediately obvious on the palate; lots of violets and firm tannins. Great balance on the palate. Full flavour aftertaste and finish. Great LBV. 88

Dalva 2000 Unattractive herbaceous nose. Pleasant attractive texture, core bitterness in the centre of the palate. Over-ripe blueberry around the bitterness. Lots of baked raisins on the finish, but very light. Forgot to give this port a rating. NR

Dalva LBV 2007 Bottled 2012. Very subdued smokey nose. Light flavoured entry. Elegant redcurrant and sweet cranberry fruit. Soft tannins, soft finish. Light, but pleasantly tasty port. 83

Ervamoira 2005 Ramos Pinto. Lovely nose, full of fruit and flowers. Softened slightly by time on the palate, but with lovely fruit and great tannic structure. Slightly light aftertaste but great length. 89

Fonseca 1985 Raspberry and tobacco nose, very youthful. Balanced entry; sweet, slightly candied fruit, with a lovely tobacco bite to the core. Great elegance and balance. Still youthful but drinking well today. Very good port! 93

Fonseca 2009 Delightful nose, full and fruity. Soft entry, balanced but a little hollow. Fierce tannins grip hard and never really let go. Fruit is present but well hidden by the tannin. The tannins finally relax on the finish and allow the fruit to finally show through in the end. 91-93/100. 91

Fonseca Crusted 2006 Bottled 2006. Strawberries on the nose, Big, sweet strawberry flavours on the palate. Soft tannins, gentle acidity. Surprisingly light on the palate but with lovely floral complexity. Soft strawberry finish. An elegant style rather than a powerhouse. 86

Fonseca LBV 2007 Bottled 2012, bottled unfiltered but cold stabilized (to -4C). Gentle nose, fresh and floral. Initially closed on the palate, but soft fruit hides the firm tannins with a nice peppery bite. Lovely late fruit leads to a peppery and fruit driven finish. 85

Fonseca Guimaraens 1996 Reductive nose; thin texture with a harsh tone. Pleasant on the palate, with a nice structrue and some gentle tannins. Lovely depth to the wine, and a long, sweet finish. Very pleasant. 88

Graham 1970 Private cellar release. Pale and evolved looking. Mature nutmeg scented nose, complex and inviting. Surprisingly light entry, spicy but lacking a little of the fruit that would be expected in a Graham '70. Sweet and pleasant finish full of rhubarb syrup. It seems that there was some variation between the 3 bottles on show today. 89

Graham 1983 Baeautiful nose, full of sweet redcurrant. Still youthful on the palate, with plenty of rich and sweet fruit, very soft tannins and great balance from the acidity. Terrific finish and aftertaste. Absolutely delicious. 94

Malvedos 1999 Closed nose, which opens gradually in the glass. Floral fruit on the palate, plenty of luscious ripeness and chalky tannin. Mature, slightly baked aftertaste and a good, long finish. 89

Monis 2006 Calitzdorp. Light fruit and perfumed nose, a hint of dark chocolate. Sweet and elegant entry, plentiful fruit and generous but not overbearing tannins. Lovely balance on the palate. Fruit driven aftertste and a moderate finish. A fine wine. 87

Niepoort 2009 Fresh nose, lots of mint and harsh blackcurrant. Aggressive attack, very acidic entry. Acidity dominated mid-palate, swamping the fruit. Fruit and soft tannins come through on the aftertaste and finish. Awkward. 85

Niepoort Bioma 2009 Attractive nose, softly fruity. Salty flavours hit the palate, followed by a large acidic burst and ripe and sweet fruit. Big tannins with a firm grip. Plenty of fruit on he palate and finish. A port for the long haul. 89

Niepoort LBV 2007 Bottled 2011, traditional LBV. Soft and fruity nose. Lively tannins dominate the peppery palate but so much concentrated blackcurrant fruit. Huge fruit dominated aftertaste and enormous length. Very impressive. 90

Noval 2003 Closed nose, some spearmint. Hollow entry, little fruit but huge tannins - really fierce. Cocoa finish. A port that has clearly shut down. NR

Noval LBV 2004 Bottled 2010. Light, fragrant nose; lovely perfume. Light bodied textuer, nice balance of fruit and soft tannin. Lingering aftertaste, but quite a lightweight wine. 84

Overgaauw 1992 Stellenbosch. Deep red, some maturity on the colour. Fruit dominated nose. Lots of sharp redcurrant. Sharp fruit dominated entry. Lots of acidity but plenty of fruit - many years ahead of it. A touch lightweight. Delightfully perfumed aftertaste and a chalky, tannin finish. Very floral. 84

Panascal 1998 Marketed by Fonseca. Light in colour, looking surprisingly evolved. Baked and reductive nose. Modest body, with a harsh and slightly unbalanced structure with the tannins dominating the fruit. Delicious aftertaste, with a very long red cinammon finish. This could be a closed port from 1998! 84

Passadouro 2009 Quite closed nose. Silky texture, reserved friot but lovely ripe sweetness. Fierce tannins grab and hold the mid-palate, dominating everything before a lovely, charcoal aftertaste. NR

Passadouro LBV 2008 Bottled 2012. Lifted nose, lovely fruit - lots of strawberry. Warm entry, dominated by sweet blueberry that almost hides impressive tannins. Fabulous late palate ripe blueberry. Big aftertaste and finish. Seriously impressive LBV. 88

Pintas 2009 Delightful nose, youthful blue fruit. Silky entry, fruit dominated over big tannins; fabulous structure. Big aftertaste but quick to fade. Very good drinking now. 89

Ramos Pinto 1983 From magnum. Corked, too badly to make it worth tasting. NR

Ramos Pinto LBV 2005 Bottled 2011. Elegant attractive strawberry nose. Soft entry, fruit forward with gentle tannins underneath; perfect balance. Very elegant on the palate. Fruity, strawberry finish. Lovely and very elegant. 84

Rozes LBV 2003 Bottled 2007. Lovely fragrant nose. Dry entry, chalky tannins show before the modest fruit, but sweet fruit dominates the late palate. Quite acidic, but huge levels of fruit dominate. Really impressive. 87

Sandeman 1977 Wonderful nose, lots of cinnamon infused redcurrant. Delicious on the palate, lively and focused. Full of fruit and with perfect acidity. Slight heat on swallowing, then a gentle jelly bean finish. Perfect current drinking. 89

Sandeman 1997 No evolution on the appearance. Amazingly distinctive nose, full of roast meat and brambles. Lovely texture, sweet fruit and a lively / spicy core. Fruit is abundant and very attractive. Big, fruity aftertaste, but full of grippy tannins. Very good port. 92

Sandeman 2007 Deep colour. Blackcurrant on the faint nose. Huge concentration of flavours, massively extracted fruit and tannins almost obscure the really fierce acidity. Huge presence, long lingering finish that just doesn't stop. Fantastic port. 95

Sandeman LBV 2007 Bottled 2011. Showing little on the nose. Lightweight and gentle on the palate. Very fruit driven, with gentle tannins and soft acidity. This is lovely, perfumed and balanced drinking but doesn't come across and a long term cellar option. 84

Senhora da Ribeira 2010 Cask sample. More open on the nose than the Vesuvio 2010 shown alongside, full of fresh flowers. Tannins dominate the mid-palate, but with rich and luscious fruit. Great balance. Big aftertaste and finish. This is lovely port for the long term. 93-95/100. 93

Starboard 1996 California. Brown edge to the wine. Baked raising nose, quite sharp. Generous acidity dominates the early palate, very sharp. Fruit is raisined and well hidden initially. Lots of sweet golden sultanas on the finish. Unusually acidic balance, but pleasant. 84

Terras do Grifo 2006 Rozes. Fragrant nose, very attractive. Smooth texture, soft tannins giving an impression of balance, but tannins continue to grip. Lively aftertaste and a delicious finish - but slightly light for a VP. Very tasty. 85

Vau (Sandeman) 1988 Sandeman's only single quinta wine ever released, bottled to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the foundation of Sandeman. Mature in appearance. Bottle stink dominates the nose. Surprisingly light on the palate; lots of fruit but also plenty of acidity and still some soft tannins. Very sweet - a little too sweet. Lively aftertaste, leaving dry cheeks and a long finish. 87

Vau (Sandeman) 2000 Closed nose showing little, perhaps some faint blueberry. Plenty of fruit on the palate - and lots of tannins! Good balance, plentiful fruit but the tannins are fierce. Chewy finish, very big and flavoursome. 88

Vesuvio 2010 650 cases made; 75% Touriga Nacional and 25% Tinta Franca. Cask sample. Subdued nose, but with the fruit showing. Lovely texture on the palate, full of vibrant fruit, violets and perfume. The tannins are well-behaved. This is rich and opulent. Charcoal on the finish, which has great length. 90-92/100. 90

Warre 1963 Private cellar release. Warm, spicy and delicious on the nose; absolute perfection. Delicious palate, big fruit - the perfect combination of mature leather, spice and raisins. Delicious aftertaste and a fabulous finish. Fantastic! 95
Last edited by Alex Bridgeman on 08:02 Tue 19 Jun 2012, edited 1 time in total.
Top Ports in 2020: Croft 1945, Niepoort Garrafeira 1940 and Lamelas 4 Geracoes
Top Ports in 2021 (mid August): Niepoort Bioma 2017, Quevedo 1970 White Colheita

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Taylor Quinta de Vargellas 1987
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Re: Wed 2nd May 2012 - The Big Fortified Tasting 3

Post by RAYC » 17:27 Mon 14 May 2012

I thought there were some good line-ups, though had to race around a bit after a late arrival!

I was unexpectedly impressed by the Sandeman offerings. Their 20yr, 30yr and 40yr tawnies were all extremely good - i suspect the "value for money" sweet spot being the 20yr (though firm retail prices were not ascertainable).

The Sandeman 07 VP was jaw-dropping - just about the most exciting young VP i have ever tried (including the Noval 07) and i will certainly look to get some. I also continue to be impressed by the "early maturing" Vau Vintage line-up (2000 was on show here, and i have had good bottles the 97 and 99 over the last year) - at its price point, i think these are really very appealing. The regular Sandeman 97 VP was the most attractive 97 VP i have had for some time (i don't know whether this is a positive in terms of potential longevity, though it was certainly drinking nicely now and i did not think it light-weight).

Worth noting that Sandeman apparently have 250 cases of the 1988 Quinta do Vau to shift - at the right price, this would make very solid drinking as an "every day" mature VP , though if i'm being critical the fruit felt a little stewed and it is clearly not for the long haul.

The Symingtons came along with a spectacular line-up: their Vesuvio and Ribiera 2010s were impressive. Graham 1983 is really showing very well at the moment (potentially the best port of the 1980s? certainly up there), and i remain convinced by this event that the G70 is one of the very best VPs for current drinking (so must have had a different bottle to AHB). Never a chore to taste a Warre 63 in great condition, either!

The Ramos Pinto 20 and 30 performed well (even if i thought their new labelling was a bit iffy, but then i'll happily admit my taste on these things is rather fusty), as did the new Wine and Soul 10yr (whose average age is apparently a good deal older than 10yrs) and the Rozes 40yr was really very impressive (again...apparently much older than its formal indication of age).

Niepoort Bioma 09 was very impressive (aged in wood rather than stainless steel and for 3yrs before bottling rather than the normal 2) and on the "buy" list for this year, and their 07 LBV was really good - worth having a couple of bottles of this as an eminently acceptable cellar defender that is a cut (or two) above your average LBV! (certianly none of the slightly brash brandy roughness that you sometimes get with LBVs).

I was not altogether convinced by the DALVA ruby offerings, but do like their tawnys, and the 1985 colheita was showing very well indeed. I was also really quite caught by their white reserve tawny, which was quite refreshing on its own and very good with tonic. If i see it, I'd buy a bottle or two to keep for the summer!
Rob C.

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Dalva Golden White Colheita 1952
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Re: Wed 2nd May 2012 - The Big Fortified Tasting 3

Post by Glenn E. » 19:10 Mon 14 May 2012

RAYC wrote:Graham 1983 is really showing very well at the moment (potentially the best port of the 1980s? certainly up there)
Do you prefer the G83 over the G85? I have pretty consistently scored the G85 highest of all '80s Ports (even over the F85), but I don't recall having the G83 all that often and the once or twice that I can remember haven't seemed "ready" yet.
Glenn Elliott

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Taylor Quinta de Vargellas 1987
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Re: Wed 2nd May 2012 - The Big Fortified Tasting 3

Post by RAYC » 19:56 Mon 14 May 2012

Glenn E. wrote:
RAYC wrote:Graham 1983 is really showing very well at the moment (potentially the best port of the 1980s? certainly up there)
Do you prefer the G83 over the G85? I have pretty consistently scored the G85 highest of all '80s Ports (even over the F85), but I don't recall having the G83 all that often and the once or twice that I can remember haven't seemed "ready" yet.
Very tough choice, but yes - at the moment, i'd say i have a slight preference for G83.

However, I had a bad run of G85s last year, whereas the two G83s i tasted recently were both spectacular (at BFT, and here - though i have failed to post my note yet!). So this may unfairly influence my current perception.

No doubt they are both great ports, and i want them both in my cellar, but i'd venture the 83 has the slight edge in terms of future potential. As you say, i don't think either of them are nearly mature (and can barely even be described as in the "early stages" of maturity, though my impression is that the 85 seems a bit more advanced than the 83), so it will be interesting to see how they develop against each other and the other big 80s contenders (eg: D80, F85) over the next 10-20 years! And recent experiences with 1960 ports teach that certain wines can go through a phase where they are written off (or written down), only to re-emerge with enhanced reputation, so i suppose relative greatness between them may not necessarily remain the same over time.

I will say that G80, G83 and G85 were undoubtedly a great trio of wines at times where other producers/brands seemed to struggle for consistency.
Rob C.

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