Before I get into talking about the wine, I’ll mention a little bit about why I started this blog. I already blog at Strange Attractor with my partner Suw Charman, but we write about new media, journalism, public relations, blogging – in short, our day jobs. This is to write about everything else, all my other interests: Wine, wilderness backpacking, food, writing, books, travel, music. I guess it’s also to encourage myself to think about those things a little more and work a little less.
Ok, enough about that. That’s what an about page is for, right? Back to talking about wine in general, and this port in particular. I love vintage port, and a good Taylor’s vintage can be sublime. Why does sublime have to cost so much? A good bottle of Taylor’s vintage can set you back well over $100 (£60), but a single quinta vintage is usually half that.
I bought a 1985 Taylor’s vintage for a special occasion a few years back for about that. I can’t vouch for that port because it’s cellaring at my parent’s waiting for the right special occasion. Well, cellar is a bit of an overstatement. Yes, it is their cellar, but a basement in Illinois is hardly a posh wine cellar in the European vein. I have had a Kopke 1985 vintage which is good value money: Rich, smooth with the whole blackcurrant, raisin and a hint of tobacco that a good vintage promises. 1985 was supposed to be a stellar year for port, a classic year in fact, although from what I’ve heard, the wines haven’t always lived up to that promise. Fingers crossed that my 1985 Taylor’s lives up to the reputation.
My parents and I traveled to Porto in September 2005. I wanted to treat them for their 40th anniversary, and we learned a lot about Port wine as we went from port house to port house. Port makers do not declare vintage every year, only the years that meet a certain standard. It used to be that the houses declared vintage independently, but now there is a port wine trade association that determines whether a year meets the standard to declare vintage. Vintage is declared only during amazing years.
Taylor has two quintas, two vineyards, from which they will blend to create a vintage port: Quinta de Vargellas and Quinta de Terra Feita. As the Winedoctor says, Quinta de Vargellas forms the backbone of Taylor’s vintage. Suw and I have had a glass of Quinta de Vargellas at our favourite wine bar, Wine Wharf down in Borough Market. At £7 a glass, it’s a bit of an indulgence, but it was wonderful. It’s velvety and smooth, just like a good vintage should be.
It’s not as common for Taylor to make a single quinta from Terra Feita, but this 1996 was excellent, especially for £19.95 a bottle. I hate to bang on about prices, but this is a stellar, no a sublime, bottle of wine without that sublime price tag. Rich, smooth, strong. We had it with friends to celebrate a New Year and the anniversary of a couple of friends who met at the same dinner last year. It was a worthy bottle of wine for a special occasion.