Posts Tagged ‘Vintage Port’

Two Mature Wines for a Cold Winter’s Weekend

January 25, 2012 1 comment

In searching my tasting notes for Domaine Les Pallieres I realized that I have not tasted the 2000 since December 1997.  The light amount of snow and ice this past weekend (and new episode of Downton Abbey) provided the perfect excuse to pull corks on the Pallieres and Harveys. The Harveys Vintage Port was bought almost four years ago for roughly $35 per bottle.  A John Harvey & Son selection, this was specifically imported into the USA by Heublein.  Many of the established British wine merchants with their extensive connections and experience bottling their own wines, carry their own house selections.  They generally represent good value.  Having shopped at Harveys during my Bristol days I readily snatched up 5 or 6 bottles of this port.

The Pallieres was a solid drink with its strength lying in the earthy nose.  At its peak this is an enjoyable but not thrilling wine which was easily upstaged by the 2003 Domaine Santa Duc, Gigondas.  The Harveys was thoroughly enjoyable.  It has been a few years since we last opened a bottle, when the alcoholic spirits were already poking out.  While that is a bit distracting, the nose and initial flavors have an enjoyable complexity; a glass of Dow’s 10-year-old tawny tasted ripe and young in comparison.  While this will chug along for some time I would recommend drinking it over the next five years before the fruit fades too much and the spirits take over.

2000 Domaine Les Pallieres, Gigondas – $33
Imported by Kermit Lynch.  True to my old note the nose is very earthy and rustic with lean fruit.  In the mouth the red fruit mixes with notes of minestrone soup, hints of ripeness and a healthy dose of fine+ drying tannins which cover the lips.  The higher-toned red fruit becomes lifted towards the finish leaving impressions of some minerals.  A solid drink that may be drunk without thought or a good precursor to better quality Gigondas.  Now-2017.

1983 Harvey’s Vintage Port – $103 (available in Switzerland!)
Imported by Heublein.  This is a Martinez Vintage Port.  There is a nose of cedar, tobacco, and hints of sweetness similar to BBQ bark.  In the mouth the black cherry are sweet at first with spices developing as the flavors expand in the mouth.  The first half is subtly complex.  The finish starts off spicy before the spirit reveals itself.  The flavors thin a bit in the finish with evidence of heat but the aftertaste is pleasing.  This bottle is comfortably within its mature plateau.  Now-2017.

Dinner at the Historic Taos Inn

The Taos Inn has served as a hotel since 1936. The hotel consists of several adobe buildings, some of which date to the late 19th century.  Originally owned by Arthur Manby, the renters Dr. Thomas Paul Martin and his wife Helen, eventually bought the buildings, turning them into the Martin Apartments.  When Dr. Martin died in 1933, Helen decided to go into the hotel business and created Hotel Martin in 1936.  In the 1940s Sam and Mary Albright bought the hotel, renaming it the Taos Inn.  In 1946 the hotel was sold to Mr. and Mrs. Street.  They added the thunderbird Taos Inn sign (the first neon sign in Taos), a restaurant, and a bar.

The Taos Inn

Last Saturday, Jenn and I dined at the Taos Inn restaurant known as Doc Martins. The winds had died down, the smoke had cleared, and the intense sun had lowered in the sky. We sat down on the patio for an early dinner. I had taken a brief look at the wine list whilst my daughter ate an even earlier dinner at the Adobe Bar.  At the bar there were three opera students and their instructor from Santa Fe were singing for the first part of the evenings music. I perused the wine list to various arias. The list is fairly broad with selections from all over the world and deep vintages for several wines from California. There is a Mexican wine, several from Washington state, a couple vintages of Heitz Trailside, and irresistible vintage port. I knew I would pass on the New Mexico selections but could not decided what to drink. I decided that I would leave it up to the sommelier.

2003 Quinta des Roques, Reserva

When we sat down for dinner, I was again tempted to just drink a bottle of port with our meal. But sanity prevailed and  I chatted with the sommelier about what we like and with complete obfuscation from my indecision about what we wanted to drink (or was it oxygen deprivation from the 7,000 feet of elevation?)  we started off with Craig’s recommendation.  He recommended the 2003 Quinta des Roques, Reserva, Dao, Portugal. He was careful to ensure we were comfortable with the wine and price range. He decanted the wine and made sure we were happy.

Jenn and I started with the Rattlesnake and Rabbit Sausage along with the Chile Relleno.

Rattlesnake and Rabbit Sausage

Chile Rellano

Craig checked on us a few times and we chatted about wine. He told us the story about Mr and Mrs. Street building a bomb shelter in the 1950s because they were afraid that Taos looked like Los Alamos from the air. The bomb shelter now serves as the wine cellar so you can often see Craig walking off into the complex of buildings then returning with bottles in his arms. There is a wine fridge on the main floor, perhaps holding more popular selections.

Jenn with our five glasses of wine

After seeing us receive our appetizers Craig kindly brought out glasses of the 2008 Gruet, Cuvee Gilbert Gruet, Pinot Noir to try. He was very excited about this new wine and thought it is a great example of New Mexican Pinot Noir. We were excited to try the wine because we had bought a bottle in Albuquerque. We did open the bottle so I’ll post a tasting note later on. He also brought out a glass of German Riesling for Jenn to drink with her Chile Rellano.

We then ate the pork and trout entrees.

Pork Entree

Trout Entree

By the time we finished our meal the winds had died down, it was a comfortable temperature, and we kept talking about drinking some port. There were selections of 1977 Gould Campbell, 1977 Grahams, along with, I believe, 1966 and 1963 Grahams. The prices were on the low-end, if not lower than, the retail listings on Wine-Searcher. Craig explained that he and the owner review the wine inventory once per month and set prices to encourage people to buy wines. They like people to drink the older bottles. Some selections that have been recently drunk up include 1999 Havens Burriquet for $45 and 1999 Beaucastel, Chateauneuf du Pape for $90.

He checked the bomb shelter for half bottles but only found a 1988 vintage port so we settled on the 1977 Gould Campbell. We asked Craig if he could double-decant the port so we could take it back to our room. He was wary about the sediment but did a fine job of removing the cork and the sediment. He returned the bottle closed with a different cork, the original cork in one piece, a glass with the sediment, and glasses for our room.

I highly recommend the Taos Inn and picking wine off the list with the help of Craig.  The wine list alone is enough reason to dine at the restaurant.

1977 Gould Campbell

2003 Quinta des Roques, Reserva, Dao
This took a few hours to open up. Dusty flavors of leather, oak in this restrained wine. There are flavors of minerals and a light amount of blue fruits. Drying tannins in the finish.  ** Now.

1977 Gould Campbell, Vintage Port
Imported by Grape Expectations. We drank this over three nights. The first night it was expectedly showing restrained fruit and alcoholic power. It improved on the second night and was even better on the third.  Dark red fruit, spices, leather.  **** Now-2027.

DC Old Gems Offline

October 2, 2010 1 comment

This past Saturday eight of us gathered on our deck for a casual tasting of 20+ year old wines. Present were Lou F., Joan R., Chris B., Marjorie H., Shane V., Denise V., Jenn, and myself. We drank the whites followed by the reds and wrapped up with the ports. We drank the red wines in vintage order. I didn’t take detailed notes as we were mostly standing around talking. The whites weren’t so hot but the reds and ports were very good. The 1964, 1966, 1970, and 1984 were the favorite reds of the evening. I love knowing that 40-50 year old wines can be rocking.

1983 Dr. H. Thanisch, Braunberger Jusser Sonnenuhr Spatlese, Mosel Saar Ruwer
1990 Louis Latour, Corton-Charlemagne GC
1992 Louis Latour, Corton-Charlemagne GC
We started with the 1983 Thanisch, it had a light petrol nose but was very dry and devoid of most fruit. With swirling you could coax more out of it but seemed stalled after half an hour. The 1990 Louis Latour Corton-Charlemagne was cloudy with slight signs of seepage and while drinkable, was not good. Sharp nose, harsh up front but suprising smooth finish and aftertaste. And the 1992 Louis Latour Corton-Charlemagne was crystal clear, assertive, some minerals very brutish slightly tannic but OK.

1964 Louis Martini, Special Selection, Cabernet Sauvignon en magnum

1966 Louis Martini, Special Selection, Cabernet Sauvignon en magnum
So then on to the Martini’s. Both the 1964 and 1966 were drinking really well and never faded off. The 1964 had the stronger nose at first. Lots of cab sauv cedar. The 1964 was softer, more mature, and all around integrated whereas the 1966 had more youthful fruit to it and some tannins. They held on all evening and were clearly well stored. There was 1.5 glasses left of each magnum that we drank the next night, still good but little versions of the night before.

1970 Ch. Pichon Lalande, Pauillac

1978 Ch. Pichon Lalande, Pauillac
The 1970 Pichon Lalande was lovely and in great condition. Clearly a very good wine from a very good vintage. Glorious nose, well rounded in the mouth, lovely and it was a step up over the 1978 which was a mini version. The 60s and 70s were the favorite wines of the evening for us. If you tasted these four blind you’d swear Martini’s were from Bordeaux (which is what I had been told in the past).

1982 Ch. Montelena, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
1984 Ch. Montelena, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Then a big stylist change to the 1982 Montelena. An initially strong nose, cedar, some dust, earthier and more mature than the 1984. The 1984 Montelena was lovey with dark berries and shoe leather, still on the young side and somewhat primary and developed through the evening. The most potential out of all of the wines.

1990 Ravenswood, Pickberry, Sonoma County
1990 Ridge, Cabernet Sauvignon, York Creek
The 1990 Ravenswood sucked, not a bad bottle, stored in a cold room since release, but not good stuff. Disjointed roasted fruit, tannins, etc. I believe this was the first wine dumped. The 1990 Ridge was austere in comparison but after several hours it showed as a lithe wine with tart red fruit, ample acidity, well made, good mouthfeel almost still young with fine tannic finish. The 1990 was not as good as the 1960s and 1970s so I think it suffered in comparison.

1970 Warre’s vintage port
1970 Dow’s vintage port
And then the ports. 1970 Dow’s showed sweeter, primary fruit and the 1970 Warre’s was more complex, feminine, and interesting. Both lovely bottles of port. Jenn and I absolutely love vintage port and wish we could drink more.

1966/1970/1977 Graham’s/Taylor’s/Warre’s vintage port

May 19, 2009 1 comment

This past Saturday we got together at Bell’s to taste vintage port. Present were Lou, Dave, Deniz, Todd, William, David, Dan, Joan, Jenn, and myself. We couldn’t fill the last slot so we left out the 1977 Warre’s.

I double-decanted all of the wines to remove sediment. The 1966s were tasted when they had 5-7 hours of decanting. The rest had 6-8 hours of decanting. The wines were tasted blind but had the vintage written on the paper bag. We each had a glass for each wine and initially tasted them from oldest to youngest.

A few quick comments as I hope the other attendees will chime in. The 1977 Taylor’s was an off bottle but all of the others showed very well. The 1966’s are more tawny in nature than the others which show a more primary nature. The 1977 Graham’s has tremendous potential. All in all, a lovely grouping of port with something for everyone.

The 1966’s

Wine #1 – 1966 Taylor’s
This Oporto bottle had a fill level of bottom neck. The lightest of them all. A spiced nose followed by explosive, gritty fruit in the mouth, with some minerals and a bit of heat in the finish. This has nice structure.

Wine #2 – 1966 Graham’s
This UK bottle had a fill level within neck. The darkest of the 1966s. This had the most muted nose of the 1966s. There were soft fruit flavors, some minerals. It didn’t show as well as the Taylor’s and Warre’s.

Wine #3 – 1966 Warre’s
This Oporto bottle had a fill level within neck. This had a youthful nose compared to the other 1966s that was lifted with cedar and spices. Really powerful dark fruit, with some roughness, and minerals that continues to expand from the beginning. There was a sweet, spiced, tobacco aftertaste.

The 1970’s

Wine #4 – 1970 Graham’s
This Oporto bottle had a fill level within neck. This sported a young, primary nose, more prune-like mixed with tobacco notes. There is a lot of power up front that makes way for a creamy finish and sweet aftertaste. Some residual sugar is apparent. It does not show the level of herbs/spices that the 1970 Warre’s does.

Wine #5 – 1970 Warre’s
This Corney & Barrow bottle had a fill level within neck. The darkest of the 1970s. A light nose, with a bit more stink, and spices. There is sweet fruit that fades around the midpalate then expands into a mouth filling aftertaste. The fruit is acompanied by lovely spice throughout. The aftertase sports dark fruit and shows more heat than the 1970 Graham’s.

Wine #6 – 1970 Taylor’s
This Grants of St. James’s bottle had a fill level within neck. This is the lightest of the 1970s. There is a powerful nose of brighter and red fruit. In the mouth the redder fruit immediately explodes into the mouth. There is some reisidual sugar and spicyness. The finish shows some heat and the aftertaste is the least complex.

Wine #7 – 1977 Taylor’s
This Oporto bottle had a fill level within neck. Sadly, this bottle was off. The nose was nonexistant. In the mouth the fruit is intialy spiced, nuanced, and perfumed but then the ugliness hit. It got worse with air so I stopped trying.

Wine #8 – 1977 Graham’s
This Oporto bottle had a fill level within neck. A medium nose of perfumed, gritty, blue fruit. Wow, this is huge in the mouth, sporting smooth, creamy blue fruit and sweet cinnamon in the finish. Pwerful and well-balanced, I think it just started to open up after 8 hours which is when I drank my last sip!



1983 Warre’s and 1985 Dow’s

February 17, 2009 2 comments

We got together with another couple to drink some wine and port. I believe all of us enjoyed both ports but the more mature state of the Warre’s left it more satisfying. I can’t wait to drink more vintage port!

1983 Warre’s Vintage Port
Eleven hours after double-decanting. The lights were dimmed so I didn’t get a good impression of the actual color but the core was was darker, black-cherry in the lighting we had, than the 1985 Dow’s. There were long, viscous legs. It had a fine, lifted nose with aspects of cardamom that was a pleasure to smell. In the mouth there was a good feel to the brighter/redder fruit. The fruit itself comes across as sweeter but not as round, followed by a bit more agressive heat on the finish. The long aftertaste leaves impressions of dusty herbs.

1985 Dow’s Vintage Port
Thirteen and a half hours after double-decanting. In the dimmed lights this was less opaque than the 1983 Warre’s. There is a restrained nose of darker berries with similar flavors in the mouth. Upon drinking this youthful, round full-bodied vintage port, coats the mouth with great feeling fruit. While it is fun to drink now it really needs to be cellared.