Axel: Iʼve just learnt that you asked that the Niepoort not be opened. Sorry, it was decanted at 12:30 -- which apparently was too early anyway. A fair arrangement will be made concerning the pre-BFT event.
There were two obviously flawed bottles, Fonseca and Niepoort, so they are excluded from the answer to the question.
Of the others, there was a definite split with a wobbly border. Taylor, Dow, Graham, Croft, Warre and Cockburn definitely alive and well and probably better than five years ago. Noval and Constantino possibly the same. The others were tired and fading.
The answer to the question is yes, but only from the top flight shippers.
"The first duty of Port is to be red" Ernest H. Cockburn
This was a very interesting and enjoyable evening, with a significant spread of port quality.
There were three faulty bottles: Fonseca, Niepoort and Offley; the Offley was undrinkable, the Fonseca was tolerable but not good, and the Niepoort looked and tasted wrong, though it had some interesting complexity hidden away underneath the faulty taste. Aside from the faulty bottles the others spanned the range of ratings from vg+ to g-, with Taylor, Croft and Constantino being my top three for the night.
My impression is that the ’63s are not showing a ‘second wind’ at this time, with no evidence of any pick-up. The picture for me is that some of the ’63s are ageing gracefully with only a slow decline beyond their prime, while others have declined more much more rapidly. By comparison, the ’66s currently seem to be holding up much better, though clearly a lot of this will be heavily storage dependent, as always.
Thanks to Julian for organising (especially given the complexities with last minute changes from attendees dropping out, Axel sadly being unable to join us due to the flight cancellations etc), to all who helped with decanting and setup, and to all for their bottles and good company.
Yes, I agree with some of the comments above; there were always going to be some faulty bottles with this range of bottles and at this age, although I was so looking forward to trying the Niepoort and thus it was especially disappointing to find this bottle not in good nick. However, there were enough bottles in good shape to suggest a slow and pleasant decline for mainly the 1st tier shippers. I particularly liked the Dow which still had a good head of hair, the Croft and the Noval (or I believe that's how I scored them), the latter being the best example I have drunk. Not sure I agree I agree Phil with regards the Offley (and not just becuase I brought the bottle!); Tom commented that it was 'lightstruck' and applied the same description to the RP and so given their very similar characteristics (in my view) would suggest that the RP was also faulty. However, such differences of opinion make for healthy debate.
Chapeau to all those who helped out with the decanting and to the B&F for feeding us well and keeping us hydrated (I think I drank more water at this tasting than at any previous ones!).
Many thanks to Julian for organising this one, and to all those who helped with decanting and pouring on the day. A few duff bottles as noted above, and based on this tasting, even for those ports showing best I don't think they have improved in the last few years and have if anything slipped a fraction. Cr, G, N, T, D, and W were in a group as the best for me, with Cn and Ck a little behind that.
PhilW wrote: ↑10:44 Thu 12 Apr 2018My impression is that the ’63s are not showing a ‘second wind’ at this time, with no evidence of any pick-up. The picture for me is that some of the ’63s are ageing gracefully with only a slow decline beyond their prime, while others have declined more much more rapidly. By comparison, the ’66s currently seem to be holding up much better, though clearly a lot of this will be heavily storage dependent, as always.
My TNs belatedly posted. And I concur with PW’s summary.