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Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Dow's Vintage Port 1975‏

Earlier this year, I celebrated a birthday and as well as the good wishes I received via Facebook and Twitter from the blogosphere generally, back in the real world fellow Cambridge wine blogger Davy Kurniawian gave me a bottle of vintage Dow's Port from 1975.

It is nearly as old as I am and if Davy was hazarding a guess at my own vintage year, I'm flattered that he fell short by almost half a decade.

It is, I believe the oldest vintage wine I have ever had - if we exclude spirits and solera-method sherries.

Vintage is the very top rung of port styles which start with basic ruby and then move up via LBV and aged tawny; it is a wine for a different age and, needing a good 25 years' cellaring to develop and mature, was labelled as somewhat old school by Hugh Johnson as far back as 1969 in my first-edition World Wine Atlas.

Port vintages are declared only 3 or 4 times a decade when the harvest is deemed good enough or, one may consider, the vintners need to replenish their coffers.

Just opening up the bottle was no mean feat - I started by standing it on end for a couple of weeks to let the sediment sink to the bottom.

The foil cap around the neck of the bottle had started to decay and stick to the glass, so this needed to be scraped off and wiped clean.

Then, pulling out the cork, only half came as the remainder, damp and crumbly, disintegrated.

I eventually removed the last of the cork with a knife and the back of a teaspoon and was finally ready to start the decanting process.

Vintage port is bottled young and unfiltered and a hefty sediment is the result - the surprise on pouring is that instead of the usual grainy, flaky sediment I occasionally get with table wines, this was like rubbery jelly.

Once poured into the glass, the port is the colour of a pale rose wine, or perhaps more accurately that of cranberry or pomegrante juice.

On the nose, there are the familiar aromas of eucalyptus and pepperiness, as well as bramble fruit and cherry.

With 36 year's bottle age, it has nothing of the primary intensity of a young ruby or LBV - but what amazes me is how the fruit aromas and acidity have remained so vibrant and fresh after more than a third of a century. Less surprising is the mellowness and depth of flavour in the wine.

We decide that this is not a wine to be rushed and, pouring it back into the bottle after a quick rinse, drink the remainder over several weeks - to my amazement, with air it opens up and improves - the aromas become more prominent, especially the peppery eucalyptus which is now distinctly medicinal.

As the weeks pass by, it continues to open up further and just seems to get better with time.

Links

Dow's - http://www.dows-port.com/
Vinoremus - http://vinoremus.blogspot.com/

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