I drank a glass of 1994 Taylor Fladgate Vintage Port last night in London, back from my trip to Portugal to taste the newly declared 2007 Vintage Ports, while smoking a La Gloria Cubana Gloriosos Regional Edition cigar. We were sitting outside on the terrace of a friend’s house in Chelsea.
The '94 Taylor was full-bodied, with rich yet velvety tannins and a long raspberry, plum and violet aftertaste. It was very beautiful. But it struck me as still very young. It was a Vintage Port that was neither mature nor young. It was in a state of limbo. I would give it another five or six years of bottle age at least.
The '94 is one of my 100-point wines. I remember when I first tasted it from barrel and I was amazed by its concentration and power yet reserve and class. I am not sure that any of the 2007 Vintage Ports I tasted this past week in Portugal will be at the same level as the '94 Taylor (it was also Wine Spectator’s 1997 Wine of the Year along with the '94 Fonseca), but there is a good chance. The 2007s are slightly less opulent than the 1994s, but they are rich and powerful all the same and show slightly more refined tannins.
I think that the winemaking has improved immensely for Port since the 1994s were made. There is a new generation of vine growers and winemakers in the Douro Valley, the delimited vine growing region for Port. Moreover, the rapid improvement and evolution of table winemaking in the region has forced Port producers to do better. Plus, massive new plantings of vines in the Douro in the 1980s are now more than two decades old and producing fabulous fruit.
This is why many outstanding 2007s show such precise and refined fruit and tannins. And the many Port makers I spoke to on my five-day trip to Oporto, Vila Nova di Gaia, and the Douro Valley confirmed this.
Vintage Port takes so long to be truly drinkable! But your patience is certainly rewarded. I only hope I live long enough to see the 2007 reach maturity. There’s always my son, Jack. He’s 14. I laid down a pipe’s worth of 1994 Vintage Port for him when he was born. And I remember when he was just a few months old I gave him a drop of 1966 Quinta do Noval while he was in his crib. I think he has a taste for Port.
Jeffrey Ghi — New York — May 9, 2009 12:11am ET
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