2017 Port - the real deal?

Discussion in 'UK Wine Forum' started by Paul Day, May 24, 2019.

  1. Having not been totally convinced by 2018 Bordeaux (and yet to buy a single bottle) I have been reading with interest what I can from well-informed sources on 2017 Port over the last few weeks. My first 2017 sample (this lunchtime at Uncorked) was regular Quinta do Noval, and it probably benefitted from air overnight. Seriously fine and pure. There is a solid firmness underneath (which is a very good sign I think) and my only hope is that some of the 2017 Port I've just been ordering resolves beautifully in my lifetime. I've actually bought some halves for once in the hope of utility and earlier approachability. I'm curious as to what others think.
    Last edited: May 24, 2019
    Alex Lake likes this.
  2. I've been reading the offers with some interest too Paul.

    The problem for me is when one looks at what the price of entry is for most mature/nearly mature port- and the number of occasions one realistically opens them - it doesn't make much sense to buy today and then have to store them etc.

    I do buy plenty of wine that I probably shouldn't for the above reasons (!) because of course it's sometimes informative to follow a wines evolution to maturity but with Port I'm just happy to cut to the chase.

    Having said that, I should buy more mature port because I always enjoy it!
    Mahmoud Ali and Mark Carrington like this.
  3. Just like Bordeaux there have been other great Port vintages recently (eg 2011), and a long way from drinking.
    It’s just the storage knackers you.

    Just rock up at an auction and buy Taylor’s 77..........£1200 from memory whenI last attended Sworder”s
  4. I'd love to try them but haven't yet done so. The 2011s were superb at this stage - not only full of promise, but a real pleasure to drink. I've been disappointed with how half bottles have shown recently. Not disheartened, since I'm sure they'll become great, but they certainly haven't stayed as openly pleasurable as I'd hoped. Not that there was much warrant for thinking they would, beyond their irresistibility when newly available.

    I very much like port but I'm afraid I drink it too seldom to justify adding to what I already possess and never quite get round to opening. Saintsbury recommended drinking it with bletted medlars, so perhaps I should plant a tree and grow myself some to accompany it with.
  5. For a moment I even put a few halves in my basket but also saw I could get for example, a Graham’s 1985 for same price as a 2017 Graham’s.
    I drink so little port and it normally needs so long unless your 40 or under I’d question any new purchases.
  6. If one is going to drink young vintage port young then it seems to me it should be very young, it can be extremely exciting like that though it does feel as though it can't be good for one.
    Nicos Neocleous and Alex Lake like this.
  7. Ok this was one of my questions. Can it be similar to a off dry Riesling that can be great a few years in ? Maybe in 3 - 5 years ?
    I may buy a few halves to try if that’s the case
  8. I enjoyed a bottle of Quinta de la Rosa 2011 in 2014 but it was all fruit and easy charm and I suffered the following day. If you're looking for a no-questions-asked one-night stand drink them young but for a quality relationship give them a long sleep.
  9. I bought a case of 1977 Taylors years ago. A bottle that I opened in December 2018 was sublime.
  10. Very young as in as soon as released ,like quite a lot of wines it's better then than 3 to 5 years down the line. Otherwise buy it ready to drink, it seems to me, but I am far from expert.
  11. There may be some on the Forum who remember Eric Mellor who was a great lover of Port (and incidentally, together with his brother, had amassed an extraordinary collection of original manuscripts by great composers).
    He purchased a large quantity of 1977 Port on release and had consumed it all within the first few years. In the face of all conventional wisdom at the time, he asserted that this was this was the best time to drink it. It seems now that he was entirely correct in that judgement. Sadly he is no longer with us.
  12. I will definitely buy 17s. I bought a reasonable amount of 16s and on tasting out of a halves mixed case, I'm pleased with these ports. Delicious to drink. A little 94 like in terms of fruit and approachability despite structure, but not quite the same level of concentration except perhaps only the Dow which would be difficult to imagine a more concentrated one. Tannic with it, but for a hardened port fan entirely fair play :)

    The surprise is the Taylors. Not in the way many would expect but for me it's one of the very few I actually like! Typically foursquare and alcoholic, this is a lighter style nicely concentrated but nonetheless a rare harmonious one (there's a hardness to them I really never get on with). I won't buy more simply because the others for me will have a much wider (and equally long) drinking window and have a much more 'drink me' character. I wonder if the 16 will appeal to the traditional Taylor's fans?

    In 17 I would hope the concentration ticks up a significant notch and all are on the level of Dow. You can always argue what's the point of en-primeur port. Its a rarity that any early purchase benefits. (94 Fonseca and Taylors, and 2011 Dow being some of the rare exceptions). Even then, after making money (> 2.5x the space of a few months for the Fonseca), I was still able to buy back at net significantly less over 10 years later...after the initial rise that is. Given the 16s haven't budged a bit, it would be a surprise if 17s will be for the investors either...so buy some for the fun of it, but there is so much left of the 00s, 03s, 07, 11s at the same or less you do have to be a serious port head to want to have them in the cellar this early ;-)
  13. I have the prospect of a day or two in Oporto in November this year (in between work conferences) and am slowly trying to evolve a plan of attack as to where to go, what to taste, what to buy. As one who's really only had peripheral exposure to proper ports. This is all very useful information. Especially considering the miserly duty-free allocation to bring things all the way back to Sydney!
  14. I guess there are several key questions here.

    Is 2017 a really good vintage?
    When can it be drunk?
    Is it worth buying it now or waiting and buying it closer to maturity?
    Are there better alternatives (from the perspectives of quality, closeness to maturity and value)?
    When does one drink Port anyway?1

    Here are some thoughts.

    From everything I have read so far, it seems that 2017 may well be a really outstanding vintage for Port, possibly a bit more structured and classical than recent vintages like 2016 and 2011. Certainly more exciting relatively than 2018 is for Bordeaux.

    One has to also consider how Port underperformed for many years. Not withstanding the comments on Taylors 1977 above, I think most Port after 1970 and before 1992 isn’t as good as it should be. It doesn’t mean that there aren’t good bottles, but it is curious to note that some of the best wines are a little bit unexpected: for example, a wine I first heard about through Port experts was Fonseca Guimaraens 1976, which is now priced on the secondary market at more than the 1977 Fonseca (a wine heavily touted and given a perfect score by James Suckling in his 1990 book - when he didn’t give so many high scores). Although Taylors 1977 may be the most successful of the 1977s, there does seem to be some bottle variation according to reliable sources.

    But I would agree that even with the problems around the Revolution, there are still quite a few good candidates for drinking or drinking in the near term at not crazy prices: some 1966s and 1970’s like Fonseca, 1980 Dow’s, then 1992 Taylors, various 1994s, ... on the other hand older wines (which can be variable) like the best 1945s and 1948s have firmed up pricewise considerably in the last 8 years or so.
    Last edited: May 29, 2019
  15. I am no expert, but I have been told that the general economic privations of the 1970s caused many, perhaps all, of the port shippers to use inferior spirits in their VPs. When contemplating topping up my cellar with a dozen which are ready to drink, I was advised to avoid 1977 for that reason, and to look at 1985 instead.
  16. According to some people "in the know", and you can read about it in port forums, the 1976 Guimaraens is supposed to be a port adulterated with elderberries. It is of course a banned practice and therefore had to operate under the radar. My argument in one of the forums was that if Fonseca adulterated the weaker 1976 vintage, surely they must have been tempted to do it other weak vintages in the 70s. I don't think I ever got an answer to that.
    Last edited: May 29, 2019
  17. If so, there are plenty of worse colouring agents to use! It is a strange Port in the sense that it is taking ages to become fully mature. So maybe the colour is genuine.
  18. It is superb. I obtained a couple for next to nothing. When I tried (but baulked) to replenish the price had soared in line with its reputation.
  19. It's certainly the most concentrated and potently-flavoured port I've ever drunk. A magnificent wine.
  20. No chance elderberries in the 76. Someone talking complete bollocks there. Probably not tasted it either.

    And yes, as much as I like (but don't think great) the 77 Fonseca, the 76 is better. An extraordinary port that I've only tried a few times, 1 bought back from the lodge in Gaia (Oporto). The reason is the heat and miniscule production in a drought year. It's the most concentrated port I have ever tasted.

    In 77 I definitely don't pick 77 Taylors. I returned two to Wine soc because I couldn't believe it was right. In the end I kept the 3rd even though they would refund again, simply because over the 3 bottles I felt bad. It was light and simple. Not unbalanced like the Grahams (also a bottle bought from Oporto and seemed hard and rather spirity). In 77 I would go for Warre (ok, light, but pleasant), Dow (richer), and top for concentration and fruit are Smith Woodhouse and in particular Gould Campbell. (The latter very youthful and sometimes come across as lacking complexity). I prefer 70 but too variable now in terms of bottles. 85 good overall, but today the good and the bad are miles part. Grahams in the first decades. Now only Fonseca out on its own.
  21. Drinking Port "young" is something I am not sure of but there might be some fun in trying. The first time I recall drinking something young to actually drink rather than taste was being offered Taylors 1992 (which had by then been annointed a rare 100/100 by RP) in France in 1996 at the end of a meal. My impression then (and still now) is that waiting for a long time is perhaps a slightly cultural thing. I wasn't poisoned by the young 1992 and it was certainly more impressive and frankly better than most bottles I had tried up to that point (which was not an inconsiderable number).

    More recently, I was totally convinced by 2011 Nacional two years ago. I wonder if it still that open?
    Tom Worthing likes this.
  22. Is it not just a question of waiting for the sediment to fall out, at least traditionally? Port seems to me a prime example of a wine in which tertiary characteristics are simply undesirable, and great old port doesn't have them; in that case it's all about integration. Mind you, I'd say the same of claret. Both these regions, needless to say, are ones in which my expertise is non existent, but I would drink a great deal more port if I didn't feel it was doing me so much harm, and I am not a particularly cautious imbiber.
  23. Confession time: I don’t like old wine. But..... with port it’s a different matter.
    If you need fruit, drink Ruby, LBV, Crusted, Single Quinta, but never Vintage young. Top releases need 15 years minimum, preferably 20+. They’re not faultless yet remain the most reliable ageworthy fine wine.
  24. I had the fortune of being in Porto for work last Friday with some time on my hands. My simple advice is to take the tour at Grahams, but the lunch at Taylors. If you have a dinner night free I highly commend Euskalduna Studio before they get a star and it becomes impossible.
    Will Taylor likes this.
  25. I quite like the lighter, more elegant renditions of mature port myself.

    I used to date a girl who's stepfather was related to the Cockburn family and drank a lot of 1960. Absolutely light, ethereal but beautiful for me.

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