Fortunate over the last month to attend several festive functions looking back on memories of 2023 and optimistically forward to 2024. Lots of memorable bottles tasted including a mini vertical of CHATEAU MONTROSE. This St. Estephe property ages so well with 5 old vintages all showing concentrated solid fruit at various stages of their tannic nature and evolution. Celebrated 1990 still your scribe’s intense fav but coming together perhaps faster than the also excellent structured 1989. 1982 had some more charming riper textures there but this bottle was disappointingly corked. The 1975 is underrated but one of the best Cabernet statements from a tannic vintage while big stylish 1970 is drinking well on a 50 year plateau – though some bottles with a touch of brett.
A highlight for me during December 2023 was the chance to try so many celebratory dessert wines which now are often not served at meal end. Sauternes with their residual sugar are wonderful candidates to cellar and later enjoy:
1945 CHÂTEAU LA TOUR-BLANCHE in May 1978 was given a 5 star rating by Michael Broadbent “Rich amber-gold colour with pronounced sap-green edge;exquisite bouquet-subtle, ripe, honeyed; sweet, rich, concentrated, excellent acidity”. However, 45 years later it was very dark mahogany with caramel notes, very mature, drier and quite acidic.
CHATEAU D’YQUEM is always more reliable. The underrated 1970 vintage was mentioned in this Blog of December 18, 2023 here. 1971 is more classic with deeper & richer textures developing a lot of panache. 1975 lovely amber look with a sensational fresh bouquet of apricot & menthol with perfect balance to go on.
VINTAGE PORT has been somewhat out of fashion so far this century but is coming back despite the current trend of no/low alcohol beverages. Also all the dependable forwardly 20 year Tawny Ports and the exceptional 40 year Taylor. Another dessert wine, this one with fortification, that seems to live forever. A treat to try a historic nearing 100 years beauty:
1927 GRAHAM VINTAGE PORT: In Rich, Rare, & Red the IWFS Guide to Port by Ben Howkins he states: “Exceptional declared by record number of 30 shippers late vintage started 3rd October. Grapes were ripe and picked in perfect hot conditions.” Our bottle had cork issues into the bottle but nonetheless was fiery complex and had thrown loads of sediment.
1945 GRAHAM VINTAGE PORT: Generally the sweetest jammy style of all houses and shows best here with complex chocolate, coffee, mellow complexity!
1945 DOW VINTAGE PORT: Always lighter and drier with good structure of balancing acidity but showing more alcohol on the finish.
1948 GRAHAM VINTAGE PORT: Perhaps even more powerful from less production than 1945 but this bottle is flawed by some TCA – not as common in vintage port as red table wines.
1977 DOW VINTAGE PORT: Surprises with lots of lovely berry fruit and full flavour on an interesting plateau. Good vintage for Dow.
1997 TAYLOR VINTAGE PORT is fresh pure excellent aromatics and drinking forwardly with buckets of fruit at 25+ years already enjoyable.
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