Browse Tag


A Noval idea

Quinta do Noval 1985 Porto (Douro) – Delicious but still more primary than not, which state I expect to persist for a time measured in decades. It’s certainly enjoyable despite the lack of movement, with a rich and extremely intense mélange of berries cut on the horizontal axis by significant tannin and on the vertical axis by fine acidity. And while it’s certainly sweet, it shares with better Ports a dominant vinosity that makes the sucrosity much more interesting as counterpoint rather than point. I’m lucky enough to have more of this, and will not be even attempting another exploration for a good long while. (8/11)

One candle short

Equipo Navazos “La Bota de Fino 15” (Jerez) – Complex. Deep. Really extraordinary. I tend to think of fino – talking the mass of it here, not just the finest examples – as mostly linear, but this is all polygons and helixes, and there’s more to find in every glass. (8/11)

Me & Florio down by the schoolyard

Florio 1993 Marsala Vergine “Vecchioflorio” (Sicily) – Tepid. The wan aroma of old, tarnished metals and preserved fruit soon gives way to a vague sort of gesturing in lieu of actual presence. Texturally it’s better, wrapping the palate in liquid silk. The finish broadens somewhat, and the wine’s push towards dryness (it is not dry) is to its benefit. But in the end, it just doesn’t amount to all that much, other than its hefty whack of alcohol and the impression, if not the actuality, of gravity. I miss Marco di Bartoli more and more with each passing Marsala. (5/11)

A Noval idea

Quinta do Noval 1968 Colheita Porto (Douro) – The trick for colheita and my palate is finding that balance point in which the wine is no longer a simple collection of brown-hued sweetness and spice, but hasn’t yet flatlined into its long, oxidative decline. This is sometimes made trickier by the apparent fact that a lot of dedicated colheita want that latter stage, or at least wish it to be more prominent than I do. So, preferential disclaimers aside, how about this one? It’s marvelous. Less spice and thinned-out molasses than a collection of molten metals…bronze, copper, iron…in whorls and gentle curls. But yes, there’s spice and sweetness as well, and lingering memories of fruit, and a confident persistence. It’s rather beautiful, really. (9/10)

Duque of Œil

Ferreira “Duque de Bragança” 20 Year Tawny Porto (Douro) – One of the two ways I like my tawny: not so much tawny. Still quite fruity – in fact almost primary – with dark, chewy, still-tannic berries and wild (that is to say, tart) plums. Spice, amber, and haze lurk in the background, which is how one differentiates this from an actual ruby port, but they are still not the lead actors, merely understudies. A very nice wine, sweet but with so many contrasts to that sugar that it operates well as a “table wine” of sorts. (9/10)

São long

São Pedro 1994 Late Bottled Vintage Porto “Das Aguias” (Douro) – Cinnamon-spiced berries, lunging at darkness but then retreating towards something more transparently reddish-purple. Some dark chocolate bitterness, some gravelly earth, a lingering finish of spice candy. Nice, especially for the (lowish) price. (2/11)


Quinta do Noval 10 Year Old Tawny Porto (Douro) – Tastes like oxidized sugar syrup with a little neutral spirit added. Really, really boring. (1/11)


Dow’s 1984 Quinta do Bomfim Vintage Porto (Douro) – Succulent cherries (black and red) coated with chocolate. Mostly softened and “ready” in that sense, though of course the wine is a long way from any sense of a fuller, more complex maturity. It’s delicious enough now, however, that anyone wishing to hold it until that maturity may want to make spontaneous bottle acquisition in their own cellars more difficult. (1/11)

Kopke tops

Kopke 1997 Colheita Porto (Douro) – Blueberry jelly. Really, this has an exceptionally gelatinous texture, more akin to a Mollydooker than any port of my experience. And while that’s interesting all by itself, it’s a very simple wine. (11/10)

Kopke 1987 Colheita Porto (Douro) – White pepper, raspberry, apple skin, and blood orange. Beautifully acidic, though I should caution that the acidity probably won’t be to everyone’s liking. Me, I love it. This is the most complete wine I’ll taste from this lineup, though for “best” it has some competition. (11/10)

Kopke 1980 Colheita Porto (Douro) – Balsamic-textured raspberry and red cherry, with sweet orange candy the lingering impression. Very, very, very sweet orange candy. High fructose colheita? (11/10)

Kopke 1978 Colheita Porto (Douro) – Mixed pepper dusts, coal-like minerality. Poised. Delicate throughout, and turns very shy at the end. Has the organoleptic appeal of a colheita at a good balance point of maturity, but the physical presence of one many decades past that point. Frankly, it confuses me. (11/10)

Kopke 1966 Colheita Porto (Douro) – One long crescendo of tangy fruit, then there’s some sort of accident due to clumsiness, and the finish dries out to decidedly unappealing wet ash. (This is, I should say, not at all an unusual impression for me to draw from colheitas that are past my preferred drinking age.) (11/10)

Kopke 1957 Colheita Porto (Douro) – Thinning, balding, starting to get a little skeletal, and yet extremely elegant. Brilliant acidity. Long and floral. Despite the fade, there’s a lot here to like. I suspect the price would not, for me, reflect my interest in the wine, but those with more of a taste for this sort of thing should give this a look, because the appeal is undeniable. (11/10)