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Route [19]66: 50 Year Old Port & Madeira tips

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For fellow wine fans born in 1966, we struck lucky!  I’ve stashed away a few ’66 wines to celebrate my 50th birthday later this year.  And lately, I’ve tasted a few 50 year olds in fine fettle – Ports and Madeiras of course. Here’s a round up of recently tasted wines I’d thoroughly recommend for the big day!

Blandy’s Bual Vintage Madeira 1966

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A wine to cradle

I reckon Bual has to be my favourite of the classic Madeira grapes.  This is benchmark stuff, with great tension to its sweet, spicy and sour palate of lively, chutneyed apricot and lemon pickle fruit.  Black mustard seed, cardamon and tamarind spice build in the mouth. Insistent, very racy acidity carries a long, tightly focused lip-smacking finish with a pleasing tang of burnt sugar/jaggery and walnutty depth.  Fabulous intensity, yet incredibly drinkable and moreish.

Henriques & Henriques Tinta Negra 50 Year Old Madeira

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This all new release from Henriques & Henriques is a sign of encouragement along the lines of ‘old(ish) dogs new tricks’ – 50 is, after all, the new 30!  A deep toffee apple hue belies a lively, lifted nose and palate rife with sweet herbal/pot pourri and deeper, delicious cafe crème and bourbon vanilla riffs.  In the mouth it’s very well focused; punchy acidity lends great vitality – lift, line and length – to its medium dry palate of black cardamon and tamarind spiked chutneyed apple and citrus fruit.  Spice and tobacco notes linger.  Thoroughly delicious and surprisingly zingy and youthful. You can find out about a bit of background about the provenance of this impressive Madeira here.  20%

Kopke Colheita Tawny Port 1966

I'll have a half! Small but packs a punch.

I’ll have a half! Small but packs a punch.

Rich, toffee-ed, honeyed and mellifluous.  Everything you’d want in a top year.  Very well balanced too, with sweet but lively caramelised orange notes as well as dried fig.  Lingering spices and fresh acidity teases out a very long, nutty, honeyed finish with lifted cafe crème.  Utterly delicious and markedly weightier – more concentrated – than the following year tasted alongside.

Taylor’s Single Harvest Tawny Port 1966

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My pre-release test tube baby sample

From a generally declared vintage, this has greater depth of colour and flavour than its predecessor, Taylor’s Single Harvest Port 1965.  A hint of iodine on the nose is fast subsumed by its vigorous charge of dried fig, rum and raisin, liquorice, smoky hazelnut and richer macademia.  More delicate bourbon vanilla  and cafe creme notes linger for an age on the smooth, honeyed finish.  An outstanding single harvest Tawny.
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