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Port for Christmas

December 12, 2010

In our house, an open bottle of vintage port has been a Christmas tradition since the mid 1980s. And this year is no exception.

Pam was out last night, singing as part of the Portsmouth based choral group, ConTutti, and after spending over a half an hour trying to find a parking spot somewhere in downtown Portsmouth so that I could go to the annual ConTutti Christmas concert, I gave up and headed home.

It seemed like a good time to open up the Christmas port and since it’s just the two of us this year, I grabbed a split of 1994 Taylor Fladgate Vintage Port, bottled in 1996. Sigh! It’s going to be a great Christmas.

15 years ago, I subscribed to Wine Spectator, one of the major wine industry rags that caters to both the industry and to its customers. Much of my knowledge about the industry, the world-wide localities where wine is made, and wine, to the extent that you can learn about wine by reading about it, came from the pages if Wine Spectator; I must admit that if you’re interested in really learning about wine, subscribing for several years to the magazine, either on paper or on-line, is a great way to do so. Anyway, in 1996, Wine Spectator rated the 94 Taylor Fladgate, along with wine from its sister vineyard, Fonseca 100 points – perfection. Both winemakers are located in the heart of the Douro Valley, the wine-making district in Portugal, not far from the the coastal city of Oporto, the place where Port got its name.

To quote James Suckling’s words that I read in Wine Spectator in April of 1997, shortly after the wine was released to the market, “in a word, superb. It’s full-bodied, moderately sweet and incredibly tannic, but there’s amazing finesse and refinement to the texture, not to mention fabulous, concentrated aromas of raspberries, violets and other flowers…..”. Now here we are almost 13 years later and the wine is coming into it’s own (this powerful example of a great port will last for 100 years or more). The good news is that the tannins are beginning to subside – whole chunks were left in the bottle when I decanted it last night – but the incredible concentration of flowers and fruit hit like a freight train when you breath in the aroma of the wine and run you over when it arrives in your mouth. And it seems to last forever……..

I drank only a little last night, perhaps an ounce. I’m going to do everything to make it last until New Year’s Eve.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Cliff permalink
    December 13, 2010 6:35 am

    Goodness! With an impact like that you better not drink more than an ounce a night. Besides if you do, there be none left for me to try when I come visit! Sounds like an experience not to be missed. Where would I be without you.

    • December 13, 2010 12:49 pm

      When do you want to visit? We’re on the cape from the 23rd to the 27th so if you want to visit then, come on down. I’ll bring the port. Neil

  2. December 21, 2010 1:53 pm

    How do you store port that you’re planning to keep for some days or weeks? Do you vacuum the air from the bottle or simply recork it and leave it alone? And what’s the maximum time you can keep an opened bottle of port without compromising taste?

    • December 21, 2010 2:00 pm

      It’s simple….

      Decant the port into a decanter that includes a cap. The port will last for at least a month with no problem.

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