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2nd Annual LASC Port Tasting: 1994 Vintage Port Wine

November 21, 2012 Drink No Comments

Last week, DA hosted his annual Port wine tasting for the LA Scotch Club at the ultra-exclusive Grand Havana Room in Beverly Hills.

Capped at around 18 people, it was a pretty intimate event.

In between dinner (I had beef carpaccio, 18oz bone-in rib eye, and ravioli mais) and lively conversation, we spent the evening learning about and drinking Port wine from the fabulous houses of Graham’sFonsecaTaylorDow’s, and Sandeman, in that order. There was even a PowerPoint deck included! To complement the wines, we also had, on hand, fresh Stilton cheese and some higher-end cigars (Davidoff 4000s and Padron 1964 Aniversario Maduro).

This year, we did a horizontal tasting of the 1994 Vintage, considered one of the finest, if not the finest, Port vintages of the last quarter century, and one that was universally declared by all growers and shippers. In fact, Wine Spectator rated two of them, Fonseca and Taylor, 100 pts.

Wine Spectator on 1994 Fonseca Vintage Port: 1997 Wine of the Year and given a Cellar Selection designation from Wine Spectator: Hold on to your hat. This is the best Fonseca since 1977, and it’s probably even better than that classic vintage–more like the breathtaking 1948. Mind-blowing, with masses of color, aroma and fruit flavor. Smells like fermenting berries, boasting loads of crushed grape, violet and berry character. Big, full-bodied and very sweet, with tons of tannins and a sweet finish. Tannic and huge, it’s a long-term, great Port. Best after 2012. 100 pts

Wine Spectator on 1994 Taylor Fladgate Vintage Port: In a word, superb. It’s full-bodied, moderately sweet and incredibly tannic, but there’s amazing finesse and refinement to the texture, not to mention fabulous, concentrated aromas of raspberries, violets and other flowers. Perhaps the greatest Taylor ever, it’s better than either the ’92 or the ’70, though it’s very like the ’70 in structure. Best after 2010. 100 pts

The other official critics, Wine Enthusiasts and Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, also had plenty of great things to say.

Wine Advocate on 1994 Fonseca Vintage Port: One of the most spectacular 1994s, this opaque purple-colored wine is an exotic, flamboyant, ostentatious port. Extremely fragrant and pungent, with a flashy display of jammy cassis, pepper, licorice, and truffles, this port is an attention-grabber. Awesomely rich, and full-bodied, with superb length, richness, and overall balance, it possesses a huge mid-palate, layers of flavor, an unctuous texture, and a blockbuster finish. Everything is in place, with the brandy and tannin well-integrated, even concealed by the masses of fruit and glycerin. This wine will drink fabulously well at age ten, but keep for up to thirty years. Anticipated maturity: 2002-2035. 97 pts.

Wine Advocate on 1994 Taylor Fladgate Vintage Port: When tasting young vintage ports, Taylor is always the most backward. Yet potentially, it has the capability to be the most majestic. This classically made, opaque purple-colored wine is crammed with black fruits (blueberries and cassis). It reveals high tannin and a reserved style, but it is enormously constituted with massive body, a formidable mid-palate, and exceptional length. It is a young, rich, powerful Taylor that will require 10-15 years of aging. Compared to the more flashy, forward style of the 1992, the 1994 has more in common with such vintages as 1977 and 1970. Anticipated maturity: 2008-2045. 97 pts.

Wine Enthusiasts on 1995 Taylor Fladgate Vintage Port: This is very much in the mold of the 1992 – maybe slightly less rich but just by a whisker. It´s dense without being heavy, with a beautifully spice-filled and long finish. Flavors of chocolate, mint and plum pudding linger elegantly for a few seconds longer than the ´92. Hold. 99pts.

Indeed, there was an abundance of flavors swirling around that night – ranging from chocolate to rasberries and blueberries.  Really, all of the wines were delicious.

However, my favorite of the night was the stunner from Graham’s. In addition to the jammy flavors, I curiously picked up cinnamon notes and other flavors that I’ve never had in a port before. Full bodied with a long finish, the table consensus was that the Graham’s was the stand out of the night.

Wine Spectator on 1994 Graham’s Vintage Port: A big, tough, young vintage Port that’s closed and difficult to taste. Emits lovely aromas of chocolate, berry and plum, and is full-bodied with lots of sweet, fruit flavors and masses of velvety tannins. Long, sweet finish. 95 pts.

Wine Advocate on 1994 Graham’s Vintage Port: In a port tasting, tasting Graham’s is almost like tasting a big, rich, succulent Merlot after a group of blockbuster, tannic Cabernets. Sweeter and more obvious than many ports, the opaque purple-colored 1994 is fruity, powerful, and rich, with an addictive hedonistic quality. It will be ready to drink in 8-10 years and keep for up to 30. As always, this is a showy, flamboyant port that has the advantage of being slightly sweeter than other 1994s. A great Graham’s. Anticipated maturity: 2002-2035. 96 pts.

Because there were two bottles of each port, there was plenty of wine and good cheers to go around. It was another fantastic LASC event.

Well, until next time.

Cheers!

-PT

Links:
Dow’s Port
Taylor Port
Fonseca Port
Graham’s Port
Sandeman Port

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