Thursday, 19 February 2009

CUWS Lent 09 - Symington Family Port

CUWS Lent 09 – Symington Family Port
18 Feb 2009

A small selection of ports from the Symington Family stable, which includes marquee names such as Graham’s, Dow’s and Warre’s and the smaller houses of Quinta do Vesuvio, Smith Woodhouse, Gould Campbell and Quarles Harris. Tasting was led by Mr Tim Stanley-Clarke, a representative from the Symingtons. Prices indicated are approximate retail prices. First three ports are case matured; the rest, bottle matured and decanted prior to serving.

Warre’s Warrior Special Reserve
£7 | B

Nice fruit flavours, with sweetness and smoothness to the fore. Nose isn’t complex, just fresh bouquet. The relatively soft mouthfeel makes this a dangerously drinkable, easygoing everyday port – a definite step up from your standard ruby.

Dow’s LBV 2001.
£9 | B+

Bottled 2007. Nose slightly more complex, touches of sweet spices and pepper. Mouthfeel is medium-bodied, flavours reminiscent of the spices in mince pies; sweet and not overpowering. Theres a touch of dryness at the finish, a rather ‘masculine’ port, according to some.

Warre’s Otima Ten Year Old Tawny
£11 | A-

Fresh, rather lifted port; not heavy and bogged down. Palate shows some integrated nutty flavours; balance is everything in this tawny, superbly composed. The fruitiness almost tingles on the palate, delicious when chilled. Again, very very drinkable.

Graham’s Crusted Port.
£15 | B+(+)

Bottled 2001. Both nose and palate seems like a step up from the case-matured ports above. The flavours are deeper, more complex. Expected port flavours of dark berries, spices and licorice are all there. Tannins still grips quite a bit, not quite refined yet; could do with a few more years to fleshen out. Drinks well now, but will be showing best between 2012-2015.

Warre’s Bottle Matured LBV 1999.
£17 | B(++)

Bottled 2003. Rich, spiced nose that’s incredibly attractive; theres hints of menthol / eucalyptus (like coughdrops) hiding behind the red fruits. The palate is quite light, apparently a virtue of the Warre’s house style; which makes the lively tannins seem out of place. I suspect that this port has greater potential than was tasted; worth a look at a later date. Drink now-2020.

Dow’s Quinta do Bomfim Vintage Port 1998.
£25 | A-(+)

Bottled 2000. Deep, concentrated flavours, as expected of Vintage Port. The nose is elegant even seductive, doesn’t jump out at you; one might even call it elusive. Red fruits and spiciness has married rather well, giving a very balanced and structured port. Tannins are softening out, allowing enjoyable drinking now, albeit slightly gripping. 1998 was not considered to be an outstanding vintage for Dow’s, probably even limiting its aging potential; this port will show its best roundabout 2015-2020, with further enjoyment till mid 2020s.

Smith Woodhouse Vintage Port 1983.
£50 | A

Bottled 1985. Fully matured port, with highly developed characteristics. Nose gives an impressionable nutty and toasted tinge, along with coughdrops and an almost floral note. On the palate, its incredibly silky smooth, tannins has softened out completely, leaving the port with a more tawny complexion. The weight of mouthfeel is very well distributed, giving a satisfyingly long finish. Showed superbly in the tasting, and undoubtedly ready for drinking. Brilliant; drink now.

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