Thank you to all those who helped with this fabulous evening - Tom for the lion's share of the organisation and the excellent steaks, Ray for decanting and preparing, Phil for little stickers, Wolfgang for his remnants of lunchtime, Dirk for a delicious Mag of Hermitage to drink with dinner… and Julian of course, for doing his duty so nobly here on when he couldn't attend. Get well soon Rob.
Husband of a relentless former Soviet Chess Master.
delete.. delete.. *sigh*.. delete...
An excellent evening, and a really interesting variety of ports, many very good, some superb.
We opened with the two bottles I had brought; sadly the Unknown 1887 showed poorly; VA or something not right, though interesting underneath - this bottle was a low/mid-shoulder fill, but the Warre 1955 bottled 1959; seemed to be a genuine W55 as far as we can find out; superb.
Next up was Alex's Unknown 1904; this was really interested, with an unusual but delicious flavour; I was struggling to name the tastes, and Alex hit the nail on the head (as usual) that this had strong dark treacle tones, but lifted with a hint of grapefruit; a very deep, long flavour. Very unusual, and I can still imagine the taste now; I would have this again, most definitely!
Skipping a head, later on at Dirk's request we tasted one pair blind which turned out to be T35 and G33 (bottled 1936) - the Taylor was very good, but for me the Grahams was fantastic, and along with the W55 were my wines of the night. Only just behind them were the Graham '27 crusted and the Rebello Valente '27 (Berry Bros - pre-BBR) both of which were also excellent.
The steaks were excellent as always (thank you Tom for arranging); almost no brown sticky this year - and while I like a good brown sticky from time to time, this was very welcome, with a wonderful selection of excellent and unusual ports; great stuff, and thank you to all for bringing them!
p.s. Alex - can you post a pic of the WOTN scoring if you are able (or remind us what came #1-#5, as I didn't note it down).
I am hurriedly trying to catch up with my 2014 tasting notes before I start drinking again in 2015. I've just got to my notes from the Christmas offline.
It was a great set of ports, with some really unusual bottles. Phil's 1887 unknown was oxidised, but otherwise was in great shape. I was able to practice my bottle dating and I am ashamed to have got the age wrong - I estimated it to be 1890-1910. Oh well, can't be perfect.
The Bell under new management were very keen to look after us well and did a fine job in doing so. Thank you to all who contributed bottles and to Tom for organising everything. My favourite bottles were the Graham 1933 (confirmed as such from the branded cork) and the Rebello Valente 1927 (where did the grapes come from for this vintage?).
We had no wine of the night voting sheet but I made space in my tasting note book to record the votes. The voting was as follows:
EDN - 3: G33, 2: T35, 1: Cr63
THRA - 3: U/K 1887, 2: G33, 1: N63
DJ - 2: W55, N63, T35
PW - 2½: G33, W55, 1: G27cr
WS - 3: G33, 2: G27cr, 1: T35
RLC - 3: G27cr, 2: N63, 1: RV27
DM - 3: RV27, 2: W55, 1: U/K04
AP - 3: G33, 2: W55, 1: G27cr
AHB - 3: G33, 2: RV27, ½: N63, Cr63
The votes added up (I think, please check) to the following:
16½ - G33
8½ - W55
7 - G27cr
6 - RV27
5½ - N63
5 - T35
3 - U/K 1887
1½ - Cr63
1 - U/K04
Top Ports in 2022: Quinta do Noval Nacional 1931. I have never drunk such a wonderful bottle of Port. I cried with joy.
2023: Fonseca 1966. There are not many better Ports.