Port Wine Day 2016

(PORTO, PORTUGAL) – Comparisons are odious, but suicide bombers must die to meet their seven virgins. However, if you attend Port Wine Day as a journalist there is no need to die to try some fabulous Ports in the Masterclass Tasting.

Terrifically expensive, if not unobtainable, Ports flow as if generations do not exist. Unless you have a very fat wallet, forget trying these wines; of course, assuming even a fat wallet can let you taste these Ports.

For example, to end the tasting we have Port somewhere from 1866 to 1870, from Cruz.

It’s still vibrant and kicking, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it would last for at least another 70 years. After all these years it is still black cherry in colour and on the nose just full of bold peach, apricot, crème brûlée, and prunes.

There’s still a great acidity and lovely tastes of burnt molasses, honey, peach, and cinnamon, with a certain degree of nuttiness. This one is as close to perfect as it comes and it deserves a 99.

Now, strangely, several of the 1952s are declining.

The Nieport 1952 Colheita is light brown in colour and on the nose oxidized peach, honey, caramel, tea, and oatmeal. On the palate, creamy notes of faded fruit.

On its way to Port heaven. I’ll give it an 84.

The 1952 Ferreira is from a rather crappy year and has a medium brown colour with an aroma of rubber and faded citrus aromas. On the palate vanilla, honey, and herbs with a short finish.

Again it warrants an 84.

The 1935 Kopke Colheita Branco has a light orange brown finish. Aromas of peach, marmalade, caramel, and ginger. On the palate, caramel, ginger, vanilla, and wood.

Light and frisky, but far from faded. A lightweight, but hanging in nicely. I rate it an 86.

The 1963 Colheita Branco is orange with a touch of pink. Aromas of orange marmalade, caramel, roasted almonds, and peach. On the palate, creamy with muted acids and tannins with a short finish. Its complexity is quickly being lost. I’ll rate it an 88.

While we are in the 60s and at the height of the Vietnamese War, we try a 1967 Pocas Colheita. Its colour is clover leaf honey. It has a well worn aroma of orange, peach, and caramel, and a very light and delicate taste.

Drink it right now. I rate it an 87.

The Andresen Colheita 1968 has a honey brown colour with high-toned nervous orange, peach, and rubber. A rather diffuse and dissipated taste of peach and caramel.

This one is headed downhill. I’ll rate it an 83.

The Real Companhia Velha Colheita 1977 has an orange brick colour with an aroma of orange and marmalade, almonds, and seaweed. It lacks complexity on the finish, but still possesses good acidity. Great for immediate drinking. I’d rate this an 88.

We move things up a notch with a 1983 Ramos-Pinto Vintage with a strong black cherry colour. Aromas of dark chocolate and cherry liqueur. On the palate, cherry liqueur, raspberry jam, and cigar.

The tannins are just beginning to wobble and weaken, so best to enjoy its majesty before the abdication. This one rates an 93.

Speaking of Vintage Ports, the Fonseca Vintage Port 1985 has a vibrant black cherry colour with aromas of blackberry, graphite, and prune. On the palate, creamy with a hot streak of acidity, peppers, black cherry, cassis, and cigar box.

This train can huff and puff up the hill for years to come. Due to its lingering acidity and balance of fruit, this one deserves a 94.

The São Pedro Das Águias 1987 Vintage Port has a marmalade honey brown colour and on the nose marmalade, peach, pear, orange and nutmeg. On the palate, creamy with a vibrant acidity with lots of burnt caramel.

A very long finish and a great balance between sugar and acidity. This is a baby. I’ll give it a 94, realizing the importance of a good seam of acidity for a long lived Port.

Every fantasy must come an end, although with Port it could last far beyond any wine critic’s endurance. We finish with a 1985 Colheita from Cruz and it has a brick orange colour with aromas of nuts and marmalade. On the palate, creamy loaded up with soft marmalade and oranges.

Soft and gentle without a firm degree of acidity. I’ll rate this a 93.

So I bid you au revoir from a Portland you most likely can never afford. Even if you had the resources, you could probably never encounter these Ports.

Is there a lesson to take away? Yes.

Port can last forever or at least a generation or two. Its durability would seem to rely on the year it was produced.

However, it will give you satisfaction beyond what a righteous suicide bomber would ever do with his 7 virgins. Being so pure, why the 7 virgins? You needn’t ask such questions with Port.

Let it speak to you.

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About the Author

Robert Stephen (CSW)
Robert K Stephen writes about food and drink, travel, and lifestyle issues. He is one of the few non-national writers to be certified as a wine specialist by the Society of Wine Educators, in Washington, DC. Robert was the first associate member of the Wine Writers’ Circle of Canada. He also holds a Mindfulness Certification from the University of Leiden. Be it Spanish cured meat, dried fruit, BBQ, or recycled bamboo place mats, Robert endeavours to escape the mundane, which is why he loves The Square. His motto is, "Have Story, Will Write." Email Robert Stephen