An old bottle of port versus a bottle of old port

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

It's the day after Southern Wine and Spiritsí Annual Portfolio Tasting, and I am somewhat renewed in my vigor to write.Lately, I have been waiting on some figures from two different sources so that I can advance my quest to become the owner of my own wine labels.Yesterday was a little more interesting because I decided to reach out to Dowís, the company best known for itís Port wines, and introduce myself.I love their product, and I have some wonderful ideas for advertising and marketing campaigns and would love to be able to do it with their backing.Hey, sometimes all you can do is put it out there, because on the other side, they might actually be looking for someone like you.

Now, while I was at the event, one of the first tables that I came across was run by Premium Port Wines and the man behind the table was none other than Arnold Trabb, their East Coast Accounts Manager and someone that I have come to know over the past year or two.As their company just picked up Cockburnís Port Ė pronounced Co-burns Ė he brought along their 2003 Vintage Port, and their ten and twenty year old Tawny Ports in addition to some of their other products.I was introduced to their Special Reserve Port by him and have purchased the Late Bottle Vintage on my own.I actually even purchased the ten year old as well, but my bottle is different than their newer packaging.

What I did sample was the vintage, the ten year old Tawny and the twenty year old Tawny.And I did love the twenty year old!But after that, I had to ask him a question, and that was in regards to the aging of port.My question was whether or not taking a bottle of port and not opening it for x amount of years would be the same as a bottle of port that was x amount of years old.To better explain this, would a freshly purchased bottle of port that was set aside for ten years be as good as a bottle of ten year old port.

The answer was no; they are not equivalent in any way.The fact is that while the wine is in the barrel, there are many aspects that it gets from the overall process, from the barrels themselves to also the changes in taste based on the evaporation [or angelís share] over time.After all of that, the wine is then bottled.And I have my theory that the amount of wine that makes it to be aged for forty years is a small percentage of the amount that started out.As I am thinking that every ten years they take a certain amount away and at the fortieth year, from the initial amount put aside, they have made ten, twenty and thirty year old bottles.This would especially make sense with wines like Madeira or spirits like Whiskey, where you can find things aged at periods of everything from five, ten, twelve, fifteen, eighteen, twenty, twenty-one and twenty-five years.

What really prompted me to ask this was a ritual that I heard about happening in Ireland, and that is on the birth of a child, the father purchases a bottle of port and only drinks it when that child comes of age (I believe twenty-one years old).Now, if that bottle was a vintage bottle of port, then youíve got something really nice on your hands because most of them would no longer be in existence.Itís like getting a bottle of 1964 Bual Madeira from Broadbent!

Anyway, question answered and something new learned.Now, I canít wait to get my hands on a nice bottle of forty year old port!

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