This site is for discussion of travel to the "Land of Port & Madeira" as well as food related to Port or Portugal. Additionally your Offline tasting events can be planned and reviewed here.

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Re: 1985 30-year retrospective - February 26 - Chicago, IL

Postby Julian D. A. Wiseman » Sun Mar 06, 2016 3:51 am

Please let me know when and where a review is started, so that a link to it can be added to the list of placemats. Thank you.
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Re: 1985 30-year retrospective - February 26 - Chicago, IL

Postby Andy Velebil     » Sun Mar 06, 2016 7:39 am

Looks like everyone had a wonderful time. Can't wait to read about the results.
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Re: 1985 30-year retrospective - February 26 - Chicago, IL

Postby John Danza     » Sun Mar 06, 2016 12:59 pm

I did a lousy job of taking decent notes, mostly because my nose wasn't working well that night. I believe Kurt and Alex will post much better formal notes.

As for my informal impressions, in no particular order:

1. Fonseca - This was a monster. By accident, I had only given it about a 4-hour decant before we started tasting. It probably could have used a 24-hour decant. The color was very dark and it took a while for the fruit to start coming out. This wine isn't close to being mature yet. A bit more "feminine" than the Taylor (below), which is somewhat expected between Fonseca and Taylor.

2. Taylor - This was also a monster. This surprised me, because it has a reputation for being somewhat disjointed, which has been my previous experience with it. This bottle was easily the match for the Fonseca. This had a 24-hour decant, so was showing more fruit on the palate. It was also very dark in color. If all 1985 Taylor bottles could be like this one, it too would have decades of life ahead of it. There was a little left in the bottle, which I tried the next night. The wine was really singing, with great dark fruits and medium sweetness.

3. Kopke - The wine had good flavor and most of the attendees ranked it in their top three of the night. I thought it was ok, but not great as VPs are concerned. The note I wrote was "A VP made by a tawny producer".

4. Dow - An excellent wine that's still on the upswing and will get to maturity in the next five years, and will hold there for a long time.

5. Smith Woodhouse - Good flavor, but not memorable.

6. Royal Oporto - Started as blah, and then progressed to awful.

7. Gould Campbell - This is from a case I bought a few years ago. Each has been an underperformer. This one was good, but more advanced than I would have expected and have seen written about this wine.

Overall, it was a fun night with a lot of interesting conversation.
Last edited by John Danza on Sun Mar 06, 2016 4:18 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: 1985 30-year retrospective - February 26 - Chicago, IL

Postby Kurt Wieneke » Sun Mar 06, 2016 2:56 pm

Here are notes in my rank order for the 1985 Vintage Ports (#1 favorite, #7 least favorite). Note that the Ferreira and Graham's were not tasted at this event.

1. Dow's - medium color; on the nose, some sweet cherry, horehound drop, hint of mint, slight wet wool, then later some chestnut; very complex and chameleon-like on the palate, some noticeable heat on the back end; finish was long but not monstrous, nice and drawn out though. Really in a good spot now and the most complex wine of the night.

2. Fonseca - darkest color of all; touch of secondary caramel on the nose, not very giving on the nose (likely due to the short decant); Very powerful on the palate, firm tannins, and huge underlying structure; long finish, but unexpectedly lacked some grip.

3. Kopke - very light color, and somewhat cloudy; slight vegetal nose which blows off with airtime, also on the nose are slight mint, sassafras, and caramel; on the palate, the power of suggestion ruled, someone mentioned "honey" and this was true in spades, raisiny, really full and mouth coating, melted tannins; finish long and strong, on par with best finish.

4. Taylor - dark color; reticent nose, some briar; dark cherry skin on the palate; finish was long, grippy, and a slow fader. I had not heard much good press on the '85 Taylor, but this was in fine, fine shape.

5. Gould Campbell - dark color; nose had hints of green peppercorn and Robitussin; very full and sweet on the palate, alot of heat, firm tannin, big structure, this is a long distance runner; finish is very long and nice, but lacked some grip.

6. Smith Woodhouse - medium color, very good clarity; nose has ripe plums, raisins, alfalfa, and somewhat spirity nose; dark cherry pit on the palate; fairly short finish, I would say medium finish.

7. Royal Oporto - medium color, slight cloudiness; VA riddled on the nose, basically the VA overpowered everything else; on the palate and finish, this had a remarkably long and gripping finish.

Hopefully, Alex will chime in with the group rankings.
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Re: 1985 30-year retrospective - February 26 - Chicago, IL

Postby A dschus » Mon Mar 07, 2016 9:38 am

Sorry for the delay. I'll definitely provide the group results at the end of this week. It's finals week for me and I'm busy being a student.
- Alex
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Re: 1985 30-year retrospective - February 26 - Chicago, IL

Postby Roy Hersh     » Mon Mar 07, 2016 6:51 pm

Happy to read the notes above and see that you had a nice group of men and women for this Chitown tasting.

The only wine that seemingly did not ring true to what I've experienced in 1985 VP was the Gould Campbell that John described. That is typically a mere infant at this point, from best bottles and stuffed with promise for the future decades. For those that had never had a 1985 Fonseca before, now you know how great a 30 year young Vintage Port can show. Stunningly excellent unless corked, glad your bottle showed so well, even with a rather short decant.

Thanks to Alex for getting this all started and for John getting it all together. Wish I could've been there with you all!
Ambition driven by passion, rather than money, is as strong an elixir as is Port. http://www.fortheloveofport.com
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Re: 1985 30-year retrospective - February 26 - Chicago, IL

Postby John Danza     » Mon Mar 07, 2016 7:18 pm

Roy Hersh wrote:The only wine that seemingly did not ring true to what I've experienced in 1985 VP was the Gould Campbell that John described. That is typically a mere infant at this point, from best bottles and stuffed with promise for the future decades.


All the bottles from this case have underperformed. The corks all look good coming out, but the wines just haven't been in good shape. Bummer! :(
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Re: 1985 30-year retrospective - February 26 - Chicago, IL

Postby Lisa Stevens     » Tue Mar 08, 2016 3:02 am

The port I have had the most experience with in this flight is the Smith Woodhouse. Have had it around 8 times, mostly because I bought a half case on close-out at a local store. Sometimes it is very underwhelming and makes me wonder why I bought so much, while other times it sings and reminds me why I love VPs. There really hasn't been much rhyme nor reason that I can figure out. So I keep popping them, hoping to win the lottery and that the next bottle will be another memorable one.

-Lisa
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