Thursday, 21 May 2009

The PORT 2007 tasting

Last Thursday (21st) - Blind tasting of 17 Ports 2007s @ 1 Thomas More Street. Tasting is done in silence with all bottles covered in foil and numbered. Scores are given out of 10 for each wine at the end of the tasting and the wines then ranked. The 17 were (in order they were tasted):

Smith Woodhouse
Vale Donna Maria
Gould Campbell

Tasters: Me (obviously) Adam Brett-Smith (C&B MD), Alison Buchannan (C&B Buyer), Richard Mayson ( Journalist, lecturer, wine writer(on Port in particular!)), Godfrey Spence (WSET and Educator), Fraser Jamieson (C&B senior sales) & Paul Masters (C&B Commercial director).

Below is the overall ranking of the wines using the overall scores from all tasters. In brackets I have put my score. I'm encouraged to see that my three highest scores were for the three top wines and that my lowest score is for the last wine.

1st Gould Campbell (9) - Savoury earthy black fruits, real depth & balance.
2nd Graham (9) - Dark fruits a touch of fruitcake, really balanced.
3rd= Warre (9) - Rich, dark and blqack fruits with poise and elegance, great length.
3rd= Vesuvio (8.5) - Deep big and strong(better that i tasted it previously).
5th Noval (7.5) - Inky black, fruity but also savoury notes, good texture...very sweet.
6th Roriz (8.5) - A pleasant surprise, clasically savoury notes. Palate erupts with fruit that was missing on the nose.
7th Smith Woodhouse (8) - Full rich with a savoury edge, ripe black fruits with some redness.
8th Dow (7.5) - Savoury but with but black fruits lurking, refined palate.
9th Churchill (8.5) - Impressicvely big and masculine, touch of fruitcake.
10th Gricha (7.5) - Very dark, rich and backward. Brooding and the most structured.
11th Niepoort (6) - Herbs combined with red and blue fruits, fine tannins
12th Silval (8.5) - Inky dark, mulberry, complexity and real balance
13th Taylor (6.5) - Confected baked sweets, not my style, structured and rich on palate
14th Croft (6) - A l;ittle simple, herbal and fruited, not much structure
15th Vale Dona Maria (4) - A real fruit bomb almost wine, spice but disjointed...weird
16th Fonseca (7.5) - A touch of leather and animal, more developed than most
17th Pintas (2.5) - two bottles tried and both this "right"? Some fruit but a vegetal character.

My views on the vintage as a whole........I gave 2007 4 stars, a good and very enjoyable vintage. Encouraging variety of styles. There is definitely a choice between - closed, savoury, dark fruits & a more lifted style with red fruits and freshness. Very few poor wines. Most have sufficient fruit and ripeness of tannins to be enjoyable from early on (this vintage has made me vow to drink more Port early). The best wines will be very serious in 20 years but none are overshaddowed by their structure now.

Richard Mayson said..........
"The 2007 Vintage is like nothing I have tasted in my career (and I go back to 1983, not that far but still far enough). The wines have a wonderful purity about them, with the fruit shining through clearly on the nose and palate. In general they have a freshness and vivacity that I have not seen at this stage before. 'Elegance' and 'poise' are words that crop up frequently in my tasting notes, particularly among the best wines which have fine, tight-knit tannins. This is not a blockbuster, blackstrap vintage and there are no baked, cooked raisiny or pruney flavours in 2007 (cp the hot vintage of 2003). Some wines have a green edge, a sort of hedgerow character on the nose but few wines taste tart or underripe.

The big question I was asking myself during the tasting yesterday was when to drink them. Some (e.g. Croft, Silval) can be drunk with pleasure now and I think this is a vintage that we will be able to dip into with pleasure over a long period of time (40 years plus in the case of the best wines), given the balance, acidity and purity of many of the wines.

It is always tempting to try and compare a new Port vintage with an early one but as I said at the outset this is not like one I have seen before. For what it's worth, Peter Symington who has 45 vintages under his belt and retires this year, compares it with 1970. If that is the case the 1970s went through a long period of adolescence and the best wines took 30 years to emerge. Only time will tell."

Now that we have decided what to sell it is interetsing to note that Gould Campbell is the least expensive of all the Ports but was also the top scorer!! Got to be a buy.

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