Of age & beauty – spectacular 50 Year Old & Very Old Ports & some babies…
Venerating age is all the rage with the Platinum Jubilee celebrations of this last week. And in Oporto where three new categories were authorised by the IVDP last July: 50-year-old Tawny and White Port and Very Very Old Tawny Port for wines exceeding 80 years old. Here I review a flurry of new releases from Taylor’s and Kopke alongside some relative babies from Wine & Soul & C. da Silva (Dalva).
Taylor’s Platinum Jubilee Very Very Old Tawny Port
Fit for a Queen, this exceptionally refined Very Very Old Tawny Port commemorates the Platinum Jubilee of H.M. Queen Elizabeth II. I had two bites at this exquisite cherry – on 15th March at Mentzendorff’s trade tasting, then a test tube sample which I tasted on 11th May. It was very consistent and so very very Taylor’s in its precision. Quite an achievement given its age. And quite the contrast with Taylor’s Golden Age 50-Year-Old Tawny Port, which I tasted alongside it on 15th March. With a firm walnutty spine and rich woody timbre, Taylor’s Platinum Jubilee Very Very Old Tawny Port is beautifully controlled – seamless – on the palate, with cedar-edged subtly grainy dried pear (lovely perfume) and fig. Sweet and harmonious, perfectly balanced acidity and that nutty spine make for a lingering finish – intense and retro-nasal. Fabulous, this limited edition of 2,000 bottles comes in a beech wooden box. RRP £350 per bottle
Taylor’s Golden Age 50-Year-Old Very Old Tawny Port
I’m afraid I simply cannot agree that 50 is ‘Very Old.’ But I’d happily let bygones be bygones for another taste of this mellow fellow. Whilst the Platinum Jubilee Very Very Old Tawny is ever so finely honed and elegant, Taylor’s Golden Age 50-Year-Old Tawny Port is a hug in a glass (perhaps because it was sourced from the eastern reaches of the Douro Valley?) Rich, round and nutty with dried apricots and a caramelised crème brulée character (actually, crème Catalana given its orange peel accents), it is warm, generous and moreish. Guaranteed to bring a smile to the face. £220/bottle at Millesima.
Kopke 50-Year-Old Very Old White Port (cask sample)
This maiden release is an absolute triumph. No surprise I must say given Kopke’s depth of resource of wood-aged Port wine and talent in the shape of Carlos Alves and his team. In his own words, the Head Winemaker seeks out wines “with an extremely fine and delicate aroma component, where the aromatic component combines with the opulence that these wines express in the mouth due to the years of ageing that concentrated all the elements of the wine, but always keeping in mind the incredible freshness that defines the profile of old Kopke Ports.” I was only sorry that the companion cask sample bottle of 50-Year-Old Very Old Tawny Port was corked. On the other hand, I immensely enjoyed my cask sample bottle of Kopke 50 Years Old White Port over a couple of weeks. It is an amber hue but paler, more translucent than the Tawny (as one would expect). Goodness, it is still so fresh, yet harmonious with svelte barley sugar, dried fig and beguiling lifted notes of toasted almonds, cedar and sweet mandarin. Opening up, richer roasted almond notes build, but never at the expense of freshness or detail (tobacco and cafe creme cigar). In fact I was reminded of one of Dirk Niepoort’s turns of phrase about acidity sweeping clean like a broom on the finish. Extremely fine, with delicate aroma and opulence, Alves ticks every box here. 20% abv, pH 3.39, Total Acidity 5.48 g/l, Residual sugar 127g/l. Kopke is imported into the UK by Hayward Bros. Wines
Wine & Soul Manoella 10-Years-Old White Port
Sandra Tavares and Jorge Serôdio Borges always wanted to make Port. They kicked off ambitiously (as is their way) with Pintas Vintage Port, then 5G Very Old Tawny and the ‘port’folio has steadily grown to encompass a Ruby Port, Tawnies and White Ports from Quinta da Manoella (the slightly higher, cooler vineyard). Wine & Soul Manoella is a blend of Dry White Ports sourced from old field blend vines planted to Viosinho, Rabigato, Códega do Larinho and Gouveio among others. The Port was fermented in granite lagares with foot treading and matured in seasoned old 630l pipas for around 10 years at Quinta da Manoella Lodge (pictured). I have one word for this White Port – ‘delicious’! The dynamic duo’s goal is ‘balanced wines between concentration, complexity and elegance” and this 10-Year-Old White Port has uncommon intensity and purity to its gently nutty, caramelised orange and dried apricot fruits. And like well executed caramelised oranges, the fruit is luscious and sweet but fresh to the core, with a clean finish. The pedigree of the vineyard and winemaking shines. 19.5% abv, pH 3.41, 109g/l residual sugar. Wine & Soul’s UK importer is Corney & Barrow. BTW do check out Wine & Soul’s website, which is chock-full of information and engaging video snippets.
Wine & Soul Pintas Vintage Port 2019
I always look forward to tasting this old friend; since 2003 its fruit power and muscle has brilliantly showcased its eponymous roots (Pintas vineyard, like Manoella, in Vale de Menidz, Pinhão Valley). The 2019 vintage is an ultra-deep, bright purple hue. Although the fruit is tightly wound on day one much like Niepoort Vintage Port 2019 it is immensely expressive aromatically, with blackcurrant/cassis, orange blossom, pronounced esteva and bergamot, with iodine undertones. The latter, I suspect, connected to the abundant shower of mineral iron filing tannins on the palate. On day two, the fruit – ripe and luscious cassis and black berry and cherry – fleshes out the palate. This is a velvety sensual Pintas; fine but plentiful, the tannins bode well for ageing. 20% abv
C. da Silva Dalva Colheita Tawny Port 2001
This special release from another house known for its wood-aged Ports marked the 20th anniversary of the Alto Douro wine region’s inclusion in UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites. Just like the Douro DOC red wines from this year, this is a well-structured, spicy Tawny – still with youthful vigor and ruddy hue. Spicy, touch smoky lift to the otherwise firm nose. In the mouth, it reveals flavours of redcurrant jam and plum and almond frangipane tart. With controlled lick of toffee apple sweetness and a clean cut of acidity, the palate is well-focused. The touch salty roast hazelnut/praline finish brings sweet and savoury depth to the palate. Twenty years young, with time on its side just 3,000 bottles are being released. 20% abv, residual sugar 133g/l, Total Acidity 6.2 g/l, pH 3.4; RRP €57.50
C. da Silva Dalva Pure Vintage Port 2019
‘Pure’ because this is an organically certified Vintage Port sourced from a single Douro Superior vineyard located at 400m. As one would expect from a Single Quinta Vintage Port this deep crimson example is relatively accessible – plummy with soft berry and cherry fruit, smooth tannins and lashings of spicy liquorice from nose to tail. Pine resin and esteva riffs bring nuance and lift to the open knit palate. It is a limited edition of 3,500 bottles; Dalva’s ‘Pure’ range also features organic Tawny and White Ports. Predominantly a blend of Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca and Sousão; 20% abv, 96g/l residual sugar, Total Acidity 4.7g/l, pH 3.59. Dalva is imported into the UK by Matthew Clark; RRP €65