Saturday 3 April 2004, in Fulham for what I then correctly thought would be the last time. With RAW, AJRH, RKA, MJM, SRG, and HEG (who was also the chef).
• Noval 1931 (decanted 18:15);
• Noval 1945 (from Bonhams, decanted 18:25);
• Noval 1955 (from Fine & Rare, decanted 18:10);
• Noval 1955 magnum (from Fine & Rare, decanted 18:00);
• Noval 1963 (the last of my Queens’ College stock, decanted 19:15);
• Noval 1970 (from Fine & Rare, decanted 17:05);
• Noval Nacional 1970 (from BBR, decanted 14:05);
• Noval 1985 (from Bonhams, decanted 16:00);
• Noval 2000 (from Fortnum & Mason, decanted 13:10); and a
• Sandeman 1970 (from Bonhams, decanted 17:00).
Decanting times were based partly on the advice of Roy Hersh whose notes on a vertical of Nacional held in Nashville appeared on the web. [Typist’s note: all these old reviews are transcriptions of my notes taken a few days after the event. The Nashville event is described on FTLoP and on WineLoversPage.]
Noval 1931. On decanting pale translucent brown, not the rich ruby recorded by Broadbent. So we switched the order and sampled it at 19:15, just before dinner. Alcohol in the nose, some cinnamon in the taste, and some madeira. An hour later, 20:15ish, less spice but more Bual. A disappointment.
Noval 1970. The favourite of RAW and AJRH. Full of flavour, warm, quite spicy, though not sure which spice. Little nose.
Noval Nacional 1970. Still closed, needing another 20 years. Extreme spice, pepper, and maybe curry powder. Long, and much richer and smoother than the regular Noval. A better wine, though not at the extra cost.
Noval 1945. Brown, but not as translucent as the Noval 1931. Still an excellent Port, with a strong smoky nose. Long rich smoke-filled flavour, likened to crème brûlée by RAW. An hour later much faded. Tasted younger than it looked. Favourite of AJRH, MJM, SRG and RKA.
Noval 1955, single and magnum. Over the hill and down the other side. Both bottles had been seeping, so had been left to stand in the cellar for the previous six months. The magnum was musty, even browner than the single which plenty brown enough. ‘Off’, I wrote, Both tasted of Madeira, and again I suggested Bual.
Noval 1963. My winner. Brown only at edge, centre being a glorious ruby. Heavy thick fruit, rich, “damson jam” said AJRH, whilst (erroneously) suggesting that there was too much of it. Long and thick. Why can’t all bottles be this good?
Noval 1985. “Pow!”, wrote SRG. “Thick legs. Smoke! Youth!”, wrote I. But thinner than the others, and will never be great.
Sandeman 1970. A different beast, darker than all except the Nacional and the 2000. Short, sharp, drier, and more overtly alcoholic.
Noval 2000. The usual young blue, without the strength of fruit seen in the Warre’s in November 2003.
The following day, with female company, the remnants of the magnum were softer and more pleasant.
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