LBV PORT

Late Bottled Vintage Ports: the quality of vintage ports 10 years ago? Some choice examples.

The glass-staining. palate-staining glory that is Port!

Luis Sottomayer (Head winemaker for Casa Ferreirinha and all Sogrape Port Wine brands) strikes me as a man of few, choice words; someone unlikely to go out on a limb. An intellectual winemaker if you will. So when he pronounced “Late Bottled Vintage (LBV) Ports are the quality of vintage ports 10 years ago,” it speaks volumes.

And he’s not alone. Speaking at a recent Fonseca tasting (reported here), Fladgate’s CEO Adrian Bridge expressed the view that Reserve Ruby and LBV Ports have been the biggest beneficiary of modern technology, because the piston driven systems that replaced pump overs and vinomatics give the wines more structure, volume and depth.

Of course, the best corroboration comes in liquid form – what’s in the glass.  Based on the many examples I’ve tasted this month and last, I’m happy to give it.  In particular, I’m loving the LBVs I’ve tasted from the 2007 and 2008 vintage.

Below you’ll find my round up of recent releases, plus a couple of crusty oldies!

Meantime, DON’T MISS  Harrogate Fine Wine Company‘s offer on a special parcel of Fonseca LBV Port 2007, down to £10.99 from £15.99 – an absolute steal. And by the way, don’t worry about buying it for this Christmas because, first, Port isn’t just for Christmas. Second, this is an extremely youthful, unfiltered Port, so expect it to age very well. As I said, a real steal for a wine of this class. Stock up!

Sandeman LBV 2008

A case in point for Mr Sottomayer, this Sogrape-owned brand has produced a powerful, well-structured LBV, really focused, with lifted eucalyptus notes to its intensely concentrated, tight knit crushed black currant and bilberry fruit – a sense of palate-staining grape skin and fruit to this.  Fabulous.

Ferreira 2008 LBV

And another. Inky black in hue, lovely fresh black fruits – cherry and berry – flesh out this unfiltered LBV’s bony tannins.  Impressively hewn.  A keeper.

Fonseca Bin 27 Port

Deep purple in hue, it delivers plenty of upfront chocolate-laced blackcurrant and wilder bilberry fruit, without losing definition or freshness.  Gum cistus/menthol notes help too.  A clean finish has an attractive light grip of tannin and plentiful liquorice spice.  Very good.

Fonseca Terra Prima Organic Port

On nose and palate, Terra Prima has a more refined, vinous quality than its premium ruby stable mate Bin 27.  The freshness as much as the spirit seemingly drives this wine, lending it a delightful rolling quality as the acidity teases out layers of red cherry, earthy raspberry, dried spices (think gingerbread) and cafe crème.  Finely structured, with lovely complexity, flow and length.  Very good indeed.

Fonseca Unfiltered LBV 2007

From a classic (declared) vintage, this deeply coloured LBV is very true to 2007 – aromatic, floral and elegant, with nice precision to its well concentrated spicy, chocolatey fruit.  Firm but ripe tannins underpin a long finish.  Youthful.

Niepoort LBV 2008

A sumptuous yet elegant LBV with violet, milk and dark chocolate-edged sweet raspberry and red cherry fruit, warming kirsch, a lively kick of esteva and ever so refined tannins.  Uber-drinkable.

Cockburns Special Reserve

Very floral, round and balanced on the palate with sweet red and black fruits, fresh and baked.  Upfront, smooth and satisfying.

Grahams Six Grapes

More fireworks here.  This deeply coloured Reserve Ruby is very floral, but deliciously peppery and spicy too, with lovely freshness and definition to its lithe black and red fruits.  Lively.

Grahams 2007 LBV

Inky in hue, with great floral lift (very 2007) to Graham’s classic sweet, corpulent fruit, this is wonderfully fleshy, long and rolling, with great balance.  Very good.

Grahams Crusted (bottled in 2004)

A powerful, velvety Crusted, with a sweet core of berry and red glace cherry fruit, attractively laced with liquorice, a hint of mint too, making for a fresh, lifted finish – an upswing.

Quinta do Noval LBV 2007

Intensely peppery on nose and palate with swathes of sweet fresh and baked red and black fruits, dark chocolate and lovely florality going through – violets, like Brighton through a stick of rock – so 2007. Long and lingering.  Just lovely persistence.  Very good.

Churchills LBV 2007

This firm, muscular unfiltered LBV has a still tight-knit, concentrated core of sweet raspberry and sugar plum fruit with warming kirsch and spicy liquorice notes; grippy peppery tannins too.  Lovely freshness, minerality and balance – quite vinous in this.  As it says on the back label, best maturity is 7-10 years.  A keeper with terrific potential.

Churchill’s Crusted (bottled in 2004)

A firm, meaty, quite savoury style with layers of esteva, cough medicine and cafe crème is loaded with spicy liquorice and sweet plum.  Butch!

Passadouro Ruby Reserva

A nicely concentrated Ruby Reserva, firm and bright on entry, with glossy dark currant and berry fruit, glacé and baked cherry notes going through.

Passadouro LBV 2008

Fleshier, flashier and glossier, yet somehow elegant, its spirit beautifully integrated, the LBV is more imposing with long and lingering black berry and currant fruit.  Very good.

Duorum LBV 2007

A fresh, perfumed but grippy LBV with violet and liquorice lift to its glossy black currant and berry fruits.  Good.

Quinta do Crasto LBV Port 2007

Well laced with spirit and juicy fruits as well as drak chocolate edged sweet raspberry, sugar coated plums and glace cherry.  Generous up-front style with fine tannins to ease the journey.  Slips down all too easily.

Ramos Pinto LBV 2008

This unfiltered LBV is firm, deep and dark, loaded with tight knit black fruits, fleshier plum and liquorice.  Youthful but beautifully balanced.  A keeper.

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  1. Richard Burton

    What a superb and helpful blog. Never has there been a more helpful quick guide to reasonably priced LBV’s. just need to find some good retailers now.


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