Port house Taylor’s have begun releasing Colheita Ports. They label these ‘single harvest’, which is an English way of saying that they are Tawny Ports, matured in wood, from a single vintage. The release program, now in its 6th year, has focused on selling wines that are 50 years old, so that people can buy them to celebrate this momentous birthday with a birth year wine. It’s a clever idea, and the good thing is that because Tawny Ports are aged for a long time in cask and then bottled just before sale, you know the wine will be in a good condition – there shouldn’t be any bad bottles. They are priced around £200 each.
But there’s also been a relase of the 1863 vintage, which is a special opportunity to connect with the past. The world was very different then. And it was before phylloxera reached the Douro. What I would give to be transported back for a day or two just to see how different things were then (although I’m not altogether sure that the Douro of 1969 would be all that changed from 1863).
[One of the advantage of these wines matured for a long time in wood is that they are stable and won’t oxidise, which means it is possible to decant them into glass vials and send them as tasting samples. These wines were all sampled this way.]
The 1863, from the last great vintage before phylloxera hit the Douro, is an astonishing wine, and retails for around £3000. In those days, Port didn’t have the current classification into Vintage and Tawny.
Taylor’s Single Harvest Port 1969
Warm, rich and tarry on the nose with raisin and treacle. The palate is very sweet, raisiny and rich with a soft texture and lovely richness. Luxurious, complex and broad. Seamless and with a long finish. Very sweet. 93/100
Taylor’s Single Harvest Port 1964
This was the first of the single harvest releases. Sweet, warm and spicy with some tarry hints, some steeped raisins, a bit of date and some fresh bite on the finish. Complex, rich and showing some freshness, this has layers to it. A lovely wine that has developed beautifully. 95/100
Taylor’s Single Harvest Port 1863
Originally from the cellars of Wiese & Krohn, who were purchased by the Taylor group (the Fladgate Partnership). Deep brown in colour. This has astonishing complexity, with real intensity to the tar, spice, treacle, raisin and herb notes. A little goes a long way: the wine seems to explode on the palate with keen acidity and a wonderful savoury dimension, as well as some raisiny sweetness. The finish is eternal. No off-notes here, despite the age. Has a balsamic quality, too. Quite thrilling. 97/100 (Link here)