Christmas is coming…so in preparation we wanted to offer two exceptional Vintage Ports which are ready to be enjoyed this Christmas, or savoured for the next fifty. The first is a truly exceptional opportunity, Taylor’s Fladgate 1966 Single Harvest Port. It is a magnificent Port, which is 50 years old this year and which has been awarded an incredible 97 points from the Wine Advocate. The 1966 vintage is considered one of the greatest post war vintages and Neal Martin bestows it the following distinction, ‘A brilliant -66 – it must surely be the best of the vintage?’ Logic dictates, therefore, that this must be one of the greatest modern day Ports and frankly unmissable. This is available today for £600 per case of six and will be the jewel in the crown of any Christmas lunch, any dinner or it will make a fabulous gift. This Port is the top of the tree and one of the finest wines you will ever taste, with unforgettable complexity and length.
The second Port is the utterly superb Dow 2003, which has been awarded 96 points from Neal Martin, yet priced at £240 per case, or £40 per bottle it offers immense value. The 2003 has entered its drinking window and sings from the glass, boasting complex fruit, combined perfectly with tertiary flavours, power, balance and elegance, it is ready to drink now and utterly spellbinding. Neal Martin calls it a ‘A magnificent Dow.’
Port is only made in vintages when conditions are perfect for the hardy, dark grapes used in the Douro Valley to reach optimum ripeness. Scattered across steep granite hills, dynamite-blasted into terraces, the vineyards in the region are rated A-E by the Port Wine Institute in a system known as the ‘Benefício’. This system limits the amount of Port that can be produced, to stabilise the market and pricing. Vintage Ports can only be made from the very best grapes of a single vintage and are therefore one of the best value aged bottles in the world of wine, yet always with a limited supply.
Due to the limitations of this system and the fragmentation of vineyard ownership, the vast majority of Vintage Port is made by large shipping houses – the finest of which we are offering today. This centralisation allows for a concentration of skill in both choosing when to declare a vintage and in the production of the wine, and a rigid selection in only using the highest quality fruit. Single Harvest Port is a rare beast, with much smaller production. Although it is produced from a single exceptional harvest, these wines mature in oak casks, bottled fully matured and ready to drink. Characteristically amber in colour, these wines are little smoother, with a mellow nutty depth that contrasts the traditional Vintage style. The Taylor’s 1966 Single Vintage was therefore aged at the Estate in wood and bottled to celebrate its fifty-year birthday.
The vintages on offer today are some of the finest of the last century, and pay tribute to Port’s immense longevity and variety. 2003 is a rather exciting vintage and fights against the notion that Vintage Port needs a lifetime in bottle before being ready to drink. The heatwave summer that rampaged across Europe ensured perfect conditions for a high degree of ripeness, crucial of young-drinking ports. The 1966 vintage, by contrast, is at the other end of the scale. A fully mature vintage; rich and fragrant, often overshadowed by the world-famous 1963, but comparable in terms of quality, thus offering tremendous value.
Both have perfect provenance, sourced direct from the Estate and can be delivered at your convenience.
Taylor’s Single Harvest Port 1966, 6×75, £600 IB – 97 Points, The Wine Advocate
This must be one of the most under-rated ports of all time! A deeper colour than the -63, garnet with a brick rim. The nose is typical 66 (in fact, echoing its Left Bank counterparts) in being very conservative and masculine, yet with stunning definition with notes of cigar box, mahogany bureau, sandalwood with an undercurrent of ripe cherry. The palate is foursquare with wonderful structure, spicier and more vigorous than the -63 with a notch more persistency and focus. Very good acidity and as fresh as a daisy on the finish, which has a seductive symmetry about it. Hints of wild strawberry, cigar box, apricot and autumn leaves with superb precision on the finish. A brilliant -66 – it must surely be the best of the vintage? Tasted November 2007.
Dow’s Vintage Port 2003, 6x75cl, £240 IB – 96 Points, Neal Martin, The Wine Advocate
A magnificent Dow. A deep opaque purple/black colour. Very youthful in appearance. The nose is very pure and as primal as its appearance: blackberry, liquorice, black olive and an engaging sense of minerality. But it is very tight and unwilling to express itself at this stage. The palate is very well balanced with ripe blackberry, olive and spice flavours on the entry, good acidity and focus with a fine tannic structure towards the finish. Leaves the most fresh and vibrant. More depth than the Croft, this is a superb Dow. Drink 2020-2050+ Tasted May 2009.
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