This month's Guest Corner article by David Sweet compares bottlings of Ferreira’s 20 year old Tawny Duque de Braganca.
Intro from Roy: David and I spoke about the Duque and when he told me that he had bottles from two distinct bottling dates, I felt it would make for a very interesting comparison. Folks on the FTLOP Forum have long discussed the merits of bottle age vs. freshness when it comes to Tawny Ports “with an indication of age.” So I encouraged David to carefully note his observations and that I would like to include his findings in a future Guest Corner column. I thank David and Judy for their contribution!
Earlier this year I found what was the last bottle of Ferreira’s 20 year old Tawny Duque de Braganca which had been bottled in 1990, located at The Wine Cellar in Palatine, Illinois for $38.00. I discovered the Duque through Roy’s FTLOP site, and it quickly became my favorite 20 year old Tawny. At Roy’s suggestion, I also bought a recent bottling (2006) to compare the two bottlings. This past weekend the temperature was finally cool enough to truly enjoy a 20 year old Tawny, (at least for me) so I decided to open them both and compare.
Two caveats however: I am comparatively new to Ports, so my descriptions won’t be as experienced as others on the Forum. Additionally, I admit to not doing a particularly good job transferring nose and palate sensations to the written word. So as long as no one laughs too loudly, here goes!
Day 1: Opened, poured, and let sit for about 15 minutes.
1990 – The color was a clear, light mahogany. Nose was mostly strong alcohol, with a faint note of toffee and brown sugar. My initial thought was “terrific, this is going to be nothing more than caramel-flavored Vodka!” The palate was a fairly light combination of brown sugar, toffee and caramel with a moderate aftertaste.
2006 – the color was very clear dark amber and brown. The nose was deep and rich molasses. The palate was somewhat muted, but good molasses, burnt sugar and caramel.
Day 2: Poured these with some trepidation
1990 – The color was a bit darker than day one and a touch cloudy. Must less alcohol on the nose and the tawny flavor characteristics were more pronounced than day one. Soft and yet it was very pleasant.
2006 – Same color as day one. More of a pronounced orange liqueur on the palate. Good long aftertaste.
1990 – More cloudy (photos are from day 3). The nose and palate are softer with less distinction among the elements, almost bordering on fat or flabby. It still had typical toffee, caramel and brown sugar elements.
2006 – Same color as day one and two. The nose and palate characteristics seemed more integrated, yet still sharp. The differences between 2006 and 1990 seem to be that the 1990 is soft, bordering on flabby, while the 2006 are sharper and more distinctive, yet integrated.
1990 – Still cloudy in appearance, but the taste elements are flabby.
2006 – Same color as day three.
To summarize, observing the development of the 1990 was fascinating, seeing it go from one extreme to another. At its best on day two, when comparing the 1990 to the 2006 I would have to say that I preferred the 1990 due to its incredible complexity. Overall, the 2006 was more consistent and changed very little during the entire four day experience. Both bottles were wonderful and I am very glad I had this unique opportunity. I want to thank and recognize the help of my wife Judy for the attached photos.
Article © by David Sweet, photos by Judy Wilson-Sweet – Dec. 2007