It was February of 2006. I envisioned hosting a weekend featuring the greatest cross-section of Colheita Ports ever assembled. There was a treasure trove of old and rare Colheitas in my cellar which were just gathering dust and screaming for an excuse to meet their execution. Knowing that my 50th birthday was approaching quickly, (June 2007) I began planning the details and preparing a guest list.
After the guest list was compiled, the real challenge was still at hand. Although I had considered a trip to some exotic destination to celebrate the half century mark, I was convinced that there would never be a better time to share these exquisite gems with friends and family. Fortunately, I have an understanding and loving wife who puts up with such crazy notions.
My brother flew in a day early so we could share some specialties like a fine 1972 DRC La Tache and a gorgeous Meursault along with a great Taylor 1970 and a Madeira too, while catching up with the family. The next day was going to be the kick off of the 3-day food and wine celebration and there was a group of friends who flew in (except for Stewart) to get properly fortified in preparation for the rest of the weekend.
After spending a long and hot afternoon working in the kitchen, my guests finally arrived for a laid back dinner at Chez Hersh. Six close buddies from four countries and my brother Mitch of course, joined in the festivities. Fortunately, there was just enough wine to sate this thirsty gang.
My brother did the official tally of wines during the weekend. All told, we shared 80 wines & Port and of course, we were all spitting. As long as we’re getting into statistics, the 29 Colheitas, (not including the Colheita at home) had a total of 2,576 years of bottle age, for an average age of 89 years per bottle. Every once-in-a-lifetime!
Here is the list of our dinner wines on Friday. I won’t bore you with tasting notes, nor did I bother to write any that night. The sixteen wines were broken up to accompany each of the four courses.
2002 Hanzell Chardonnay
Ramos Pinto White Port
1985 Krug Champagne - Mag
2003 Joh. Jos. Christoffel Erben Urziger Wurzgarten, (MSR) Riesling Auslese
1999 Domaine de la Romanee-Conti, Vosne-Romanee, Cuvee Duvault-Blochet
1999 Cadence “Tapteil Vineyard” - WA
2003 Vallegre Vinha Velha, Douro
2004 Niepoort Batuta
1985 Chateau Lynch Bages
2001 Karl Lawrence Reserve
1982 Penfolds’ Grange Hermitage
1997 Henschke "Hill of Grace"
1999 Klein Constantia Vin de Constance 1952 Presidential Golden White (Colheita) Port
1957 Barbeito Boal Madeira
1971 Pedro Ximenez
Fortunately, everyone had the opportunity to sleep in as Saturday’s tasting did not begin until the middle of the afternoon. It was a beautiful sunny day and I could not think of a better way to spend my birthday. Kaspar’s used to be one of my very favorite wine-friendly restaurants in Seattle. A couple of years ago they changed their concept to just handle private events. That worked perfectly as we had a large private room, which was probably a good thing and I was very pleased the way the menu turned out.
I prefer to do major wine tastings prior to the meal … and of course, enjoy some fine wine with dinner. That way no food flavors or textures are left to get in the way of the nuances of the wine. Organizing the flights is something that I love doing, especially at focused Port and Madeira tastings. Although everyone knew there was going to be a lot of well-aged Colheitas present, most did not know that there was a horizontal of eight 1937’s and four 1938’s amongst the first day’s lineup. The “theme within a theme” was a lot of fun to organize and finally, to taste!
Here was day one of our Colheita fest, which encompassed the majority of the young bottles. Since this was the actual day of my 50th, the first bottle was very much appreciated.
Kopke’s “Roy’s Blend” Tawny Port – This is a cuvee that I blended in Portugal a month prior to this tasting, which was delivered by Sogevinus’ Sandra Marques specifically for my 50th birthday. It was made up from four specific vintages of aged Tawny: 50% 1937, 20% 1957, 20% 1967 and 10% from 1984. Dark maple color with an orange-amber edge. Accented by hazelnut, mahogany and tangerine aromas this really was a fun mystery wine to present to this seasoned group of Port savvy friends. Averaging 55 years old, this “blended Colheita” honed in on a very nutty and sweet approach with layers of pralines, vanilla and Frangelico on the stunning mid-palate. Rich and velvety, this hung together seamlessly and delivered plenty of acidity to wow the group. The liquid caramel center provided a long and lip smacking finish. I need more of this! Drink to 2030. 94 points 6/30/07
1937 Feist Colheita Port – Bottled in 1999. Orange-tawny color with a yellowish rim. Beef bouillon, saline, a touch of maderization and a gentle mushroom scented bottle-stink which faded over the next half an hour. I felt this was past its prime, at least this bottle showed that way. Nonetheless, it was still fun to drink and was considerably better on the palate than on the nose itself. A solid core of acidity along with a smooth texture and lots of maple and cashew nuttiness provided plenty to please the palate. The finish with a little bit short but otherwise this was certainly interesting. Drink it now through 2012. 88 points 6/30/07
1937 Burmester Colheita Port – Bottled in 1987. Dark maple color with an amber-greenish tinge. Slightly musty bottle-stink initially but definitely not from TCA. There was however a touch of VA, which I did not find offensive in this particular wine. Notes of leather, cedar and crème brûlée revealed a sublime nose as this continued to evolve in glass. Rich and soft with a sexy elegance, the Burmester showed a sweet and full-bodied style which was better on the palate. By the time I reached the end of my glass, this ‘37 had fully assuaged any concerns I had initially. Caramelized sugar and zippy acid kept this all in synch, along with a prolonged aftertaste that had a slight bite. Drink it now through 2015. 92 points 6/30/07
1937 C. da Silva Colheita Port – Bottled in 1999. Medium golden-amber and slightly cloudy appearance. Wow, this was a horse of a completely different color, with exotic aromas of coffee beans, dried apricots and a distinct roasted note. One of the best noses of the tasting. It showcased a diverse and slightly dry personality with marmalade, dried apricots and lightly honeyed flavors propped up by a citric nerve. I liked this C. da Silva a lot and there was a solid dose of acidity throughout and although the finish lacked profundity, it was delicious and medium in length; otherwise this would have reached a crazy score. Drink it now through 2015. 95 points 6/30/07
1937 Niepoort Colheita Port – Bottled in 1977, this provides a good example of how well fine Colheita can age in the bottle for at least 30 years. Dark maple color with an amber edge. The refined and compelling scents of saline and crème anglais gave way to an elegant and feminine wine that was light to medium weight and silky smooth texturally. I very rarely say this, but this Colheita actually possessed too much acidity and for my palate, out of balance with the fruit. Not as great as the exalted 1935 or even 1957 Niepoort Colheitas; although the toffee and fig flavored finish was a bit short, there was plenty to enjoy here. Drink it now through 2015. 91 points 6/30/07
First place votes on the first flight of five:
- Kopke “Roy’s Blend” – four votes
- Feist – none
- Burmester – four votes
- C. da Silva – eight votes
- Niepoort – none
1937 Quinta do Noval Colheita Port – Bottled in 1998. Orange-Tawny hue with a golden meniscus. Toasted almonds, lemon peel and a whiff of alcohol throughout. Ahhhh, this was fabulous in the mouth, unctuous and just short of syrupy. Intense flavors of golden raisins, marzipan and molasses were supported by supple acidity. Mouthcoating and delicious, smooth but quite spirity from stem to stern. The mouthfeel, flavors and exceptional finish were so profound that had this not shown such distracting levels of heat, it would have scored in the high nineties. I’ve had this before on a few occasions and it exhibited less heat. Drink it now through 2030. 94+ points 6/30/07
1937 Ramos Pinto (“exhibit A”) Colheita Port – Interesting to find this was bottled in 1979, this was an experiment as “exhibit B” was from a younger bottling and it was going to be fun to compare them. Had I not known that we were drinking Colheitas, I may have mistaken this for Madeira. There was a bouillon like character, sea salt and VA that I often associate with Madeira and the palate showed very much like a good Sercial. Unfortunately, it was showing a deficiency of acid and I found it genteel but flabby, if not a bit simple. The finish was clipped and too hot for my liking. Drink up. 84 points 6/30/07
1937 Ramos Pinto (“exhibit B”) Colheita Port – Bottled in 1984. Unlike others who looked to draw significant conclusions in comparing samples A to B, the five years really was not the difference. The lackluster showing of the first bottle made a fair comparison difficult at best. Medium dark maple with an orange glint. Quite fragrant and imbued with Asian spice, potpourri and a vitamin pill-medicinal note. It seemed slightly tired and lacked the requisite acidity. Its strong suit was the luxurious mouthfeel and richness that it delivered along with the crème brulee and medium finish with a citrus edge to the aftertaste. Enjoy this soon. 89 points 6/30/07
1937 Rocha Colheita Port – Coffee color with a golden edge. There is a slightly “off” note initially, but more pleasant scents of candied pralines and nut skin. Intensely acidic showing the spine that binds, with a multifaceted mid-section and delicious creamy butterscotch richness. The Rocha delivers a velvety and long aftertaste which elicits plenty of pleasure. Drink over the next two decades. 93 points 6/30/07
The point in having two different bottlings of Ramos Pinto 1937 Colheita in the second flight, (bottled five years apart) was to spur a discussion on the merits of whether Colheita actually improves in bottle. There are many differing opinions on this topic. Sandra Marques, the charismatic and energetic USA brand manager for Sogevinus, is a staunch supporter of the idea that the closer to the bottling date, the “fresher” and brighter the Colheita will show. Her U.S. importer (for Kopke/Rocha) Todd Cromwell, from Wineworth LLC, based in Bellevue, WA agrees that Colheita is ready to drink when bottled and does not improve in bottle. Others drew empirical evidence from the bottles above, yet I am not sure these two particular Ramos Pinto bottlings were a great sampling for this experiment.
Personally, I am in the same camp as Dirk Niepoort and believe that Colheita can and will improve in the bottle, especially when un-fined and unfiltered. To be candid, mine was clearly the minority view on this day and it just goes to show that with wine, there are no absolutes.
First place votes for the second flight, of four:
- Quinta do Noval – seven votes
- Ramos Pinto “A” – three votes
- Ramos Pinto “B” – none
- Rocha – six votes
1938 Kopke Colheita Port – Bottled 2002. Medium maple color with an amber edge. This vintage represents the Tercentenary Anniversary of the 1638 founding of Kopke, which was the very first Port shipper. Slightly hot with some citrus peel and caramelized sugar notes, there is a fine bead of acidity in this ’38. Light weight and elegant with lemon curd and crème brûlée flavors, this showed a voluptuous palate presence. The last time I had this Kopke, I found it more profound with greater depth and a longer finish. Drink this over the next two decades. 91 points 6/30/07
1938 Barros Colheita Port – Bottled in 1999. Light coffee color with a golden tinge on the rim. It provides a beguiling mélange of orange marmalade and lightly toasted almonds on the nose. There is a rich, sweet nutty nougat and cinnamon flavor which I found quite different. The Barros delivers a fine balance between the sweetness and cleansing acidity, along with a medium weight and intricate finish. Drink sometime between now and 2015. 93 points 6/30/07
1938 Moreira Colheita Port – Bottled in 2000 by Hutcheson & Feuerheerd. Iced tea color. The nose shows some maderization, burnt coffee and citrus, not as pleasant as it reads. The palate is a bit better offering rich and full-bodied, but simple and rather straight forward flavors of orange liqueur and caramel. Although very smooth in texture, it ends with a fairly quick forgettable finish. This is the weakest wine of the three flights so far. Open for the in-laws. 82 points 6/30/07
1940 Kopke Colheita Port – bottled in 2001. Poured from a pair of 375s that were identical twins. Light tawny color with a golden meniscus. Scented with smoky pipe tobacco, toasty hazelnut and lime zest accents which provide a wonderful bouquet. Nut driven flavors with a touch of toffee and a seamless smooth mouthfeel and plenty of zippy acid to keep it all in check. The caressing velvety aftertaste is marvelous. No rush to drink this beauty. 94+ points 6/30/07
1940 Barros Colheita Port – Bottled in 1999. Orange-amber hue with a green rim. Tropical oxidative notes of banana and a light orange peel fragrance frame the Barros. The 1940 is slightly tired, with citrus flavors of tangerine and lemon that are supported by a modicum of acidity which holds this all together. The significant strength lies in the long finish with lip smacking waves that make up for the lack of an initial attack. A unique dichotomy here and I will need to try this again. 89 points 6/30/07
First place votes for the third flight, of five:
- 1938 Kopke – no votes
- 1938 Barros – five votes
- 1938 Moreira - none
- 1940 Kopke – ten votes
- 1940 Barros - one vote
It was finally dinner time, about four hours after we began the tasting and everybody was quite hungry. For purity sake, we only had sliced baguettes and ice water to accompany our Colheitas. Here was the exemplary dinner menu which Kaspar and his team executed to perfection:
Pan Seared Sea Scallops with Spicy Bacon and Spinach Sauce
Tomato, Prawn and Gin Soup en Croute
Ahi Tuna Sashimi on Barley Porcini Mushroom Risotto and Bean Sprout Salad
Hazelnut Crusted Venison Medallions with Swiss Chard and Spaetzle
Organic Fruits and Artisan Cheese with Crispy Lavash
Listed below are the wines that accompanied the above courses:
Broadbent Vinho Verde
2004 Quinta das Maias Reserve White
1995 Le Bonheur Prima (So. Africa)
1998 Denis Mugneret Richebourg
2002 Louis Jadot Gevrey-Chambertin Combe Aux Moines
1996 Quinta dos Roques Touriga Nacional (Dao region)
2002 Clos Mogador Priorat
2001 Chryseia (Douro)
2003 Quinta do Crasto Reserva Old Vines
2004 Quinta do Crasto Reserva Old Vines
1990 Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon
1997 Penfolds’ Bin 707 Cabernet Sauvignon
1998 Chateau Beaucastel
2003 Longboard Vineyards “Dakine Vineyard” Syrah
There was no rush to leave as everyone had arranged car services to pick them up and we sat and laughed and revisited some of the Colheitas to see how they had evolved. Tomorrow was going to be an even longer day with more Colheita and wine and sleep was going to be very welcome for all. My brother seemed to have enjoyed himself.
Having moved to WA State in 1996 to work for the Schwartz Brothers, a renowned local family which owns a variety of restaurants; I have remained loyal and always try to incorporate their eateries into my wine events. The Leschi property of Daniel’s Broiler was one of the Schwartz Bros’ very earliest establishments and sits on the Western shore of Lake Washington with a beautiful view of the lake as well as the I-90 Bridge and the Eastside. The restaurant had been renovated recently and we were the first to arrive on this particular Sunday, as we were getting an earlier start.
The private banquet room upstairs overlooks the main dining room with a gorgeous view of the Cascade Mountains through the full frontal glass. It is a bright, open yet private and lively space which was perfect for our group.
We were going to taste many older bottles today, some nearly 200 years old and a half dozen at least one hundred years old. I don’t think any of us had ever tried Port this old before and it was an extraordinary group of flights coming our way.
1935 Barros Colheita Port – This was bottled the week before our tasting, specifically for this event and it’s just one of two bottles that exist in the world (as of this tasting). Not only is it extraordinarily rare, it is actually a WHITE Colheita (the 2nd oldest one I’ve ever tried). Thanks again Sandra for the great start to our second day of vintage dated tawnies! Bright amber with a yellow edge. Notes of honey, golden raisins, tropical fruits, almond and a gentle kiss of alcohol. The intensity of the aromatics is matched by the complexity of tangerine and silky, liquefied butterscotch on the palate. Showcasing scintillating acidity, this fresh young Colheita has a finish to die for! 96+ points 7/1/07
1815 Royal Oporto Colheita Port – Bottle date is unknown. Alex brought this and the 1815 Ferreira over for this tasting, an extraordinarily generous gesture. Bartholomew felt that this could possibly be a Vintage Port (a better picture of the bottle, “The pair of 1815’s” is at the end of this article). Medium amber with a tawny edge. Some had cloudy sediment in their glass, but mine was clear in appearance. Tea, Asian spice and a marmalade bouquet arise after initial whiffs akin to a musty, damp and cobweb infested dungeon. Vested with a surprising dollop of acidity, medium-bodied and later on, more syrupy. Laden with quince, maple and marmalade together showing ancient intricate nuances. Although interesting, I am not so sure I like it, but what a rare experience. 90 points 7/1/07
1815 Ferreira Colheita Port – On the label it says, “Dona Antonia A. Ferreira. Garrafeira 1815, Vinho Tinto.” A very cool old molded bottle. Bartholomew again believed this to be Vintage Port and mentioned that he had checked with Ferreira and although they do still have a handful of 1815 Vintage Ports, they have no record of producing a Colheita from this vintage. Dark amber in color with a greenish hue on the outer edge and a slight golden inner ring. Everyone kept mentioning rosemary on the nose, but I never did discern that herb. Instead I nosed spearmint and pine needles and an herbal, more earthy essence which was intriguing. Rich and very dry flavors akin to Sherry with a mix of raisins and dried apricot. The acidity was much lighter than the first wine. The smooth texture led to a long finish early on but this fell apart fairly quickly. Thank you again Alex for this historical treasure! I liked it more than most others, but I find a fascination with how these types of ancient Ports hold up for the first half hour. I typically gain all of my pleasure during this earlier stage. 91 points 7/1/07
1853 Whitwham’s “Millennium Port” King Pedro V, Royal Reserve Port – Bottled by Niepoort in 2001. I had this a year and a half ago during the Atlanta Port tasting. Every bit as youthful as the previous bottle and as Bartholomew mentioned, it is dubious as to its real age, and more than likely it has been topped off, as no way it would present this youthful image. Dark coffee colored and in many ways more like a Boal Madeira, including the VA which in this case too, is a plus. Maple, earth, wood, crème brûlée and lots of spirit abound on the nose. The palate features sweet dark raisins, dates and prunes which provide an ultra-sweet style, almost like an Australian Muscat. Full-bodied and with acid aplenty, this is one tasty mouthful of Port. Elegant and delicious with a slightly hot but profoundly long aftertaste. 96+ points 7/1/07
1863 Ferreira “Vezuvio” Colheita Port – This was a most generous gift from a good friend, after my enthronement into the IVP’s Confraria, June 2003. Back in the day, Dona Antonia Adelaide Ferreira used to own Quinta do “Vezuvio.” I have had a few other 1863 Colheitas, one of which was also a Ferreira, but in a very different bottle. This bottling was clearly from the 19th century (have a look at the photo). Darkest amber and beautiful to look at, with an orange-greenish meniscus. Ethereal notes of golden raisins, figs and marzipan are absolutely wild, emerging after a bout of nearly 10-15 minutes with true funk, skunk and musty notes. Rich, dense and intense figs, caramel, citrus and toffee in a hedonistic swallow that I will never forget. Early on it was so restrained, with no mid-palate at all. 45 minutes in, this was extraordinary with an absolutely sick finish; a misnomer in this case. I was amazed to hear a couple of friends were not all that impressed. C’est dommage! 97 points 7/1/07
1890 AJS da Silva Colheita Port – This “Port of the 1890 Vintage, bottled by Antonio Jose da Silva (Est. 1813) - 19,3% by volume.” Medium amber in color. Compelling aromas of dried apricots, peach and butterscotch. Smooth, unctuous and with laser guided acidity. Perfect symmetry and a great Colheita with caramel, apricots and almond paste flavors. One of the best wines of the entire weekend. If it were not for a touch of spirit, this would be closing in on the ultra-rare 100 points. The “finish” never actually did and lived on and on. I thought about this wine for a few days after the tasting, it really was THAT good. I’ll even admit going back to the empty bottle to smell it a couple of times. 98+ points 7/1/07
1900 Ferreira “Duque de Braganca” Colheita Port – “Bottled in 1972” and there is a back label written in German. Dark amber with a golden meniscus. There is a smoky and roasted espresso bean aroma along with a reductive note; also some caramel and walnuts going on too. This Ferreira probably suffered by following the 1890, as little could show as brilliantly after that. Nonetheless, this Duque is a Colheita with pizzazz and its elegance texturally is equaled by its lingering semi-sweet and silky aftertaste. A beautiful drink today, but I would drink ‘em if you own ‘em. 94 points 7/1/07
1900 Borges & Irmao Colheita Port – Bottled in 1947 and recorked in 1982. Medium maple in color and a yellow edge. Restrained aromatics even when coaxed and a touch of heat protrudes instead. Sumptuous and lively on the palate with a luscious core of acidity and sublime crème brûlée, maybe more like liquid flan and every bit as silky. The heat comes back to haunt the aftertaste which otherwise is solid. 93 points (7/1/07)
First place votes for the first flight of five:
- Barros “White” – one vote
- Royal Oporto – two
- Ferreira – one
- Whitwham’s – 10 votes
- Ferreira’s Vezuvio - one
1910 J.H. Andresen Colheita Port –From the Parisian cellar of J.B. Besse, comes this dark brown/orange colored Colheita with a tawny rim, bottled 1973. I wasn’t sure if it was oxidized or maderized but either way, there was a faulty nose. There is the unique combination of coffee and orange peel flavors which is not the typical profile found in this type of Port. The Andresen delivered the requisite acidity level to keep this in synch and provided respectable length, but it just lacked the vibrancy that I’ve found in the others in this flight. It’s a bit simplistic and the nose was a real downer. 85 points (7/1/07)
1912 Niepoort Colheita Port – This brings back a fond memory of a long lost friend, Paul Napolitano from NY. He once opened this identical Port for me years ago at his home and at the time, it was the greatest Colheita I had experienced, as well as the oldest. This one was bottled in 1976 or ’77. A piece is torn off the label and makes it impossible to be certain. Dark coffee color with a greenish edge. Is this a Madeira? Bouillon cube, scents of sea breeze and toffee. The nose reminds me of a Malvasia and the richness and supple spine live up to that mindset. The palate is packed with copious caramel and fig flavors along with prunes and toffee intricately woven into a neat little package. Intense unctuous layers unfold into one of the most decadent Colheitas of the weekend. I love this one and the finish is absolutely sick. How can anyone question if these get better in the bottle? 97+ points (7/1/07)
First place votes for the second flight of five:
- A.J. da Silva – eight votes
- Ferreira – none
- Borges & Irmao – none
- Andresen – none
- Niepoort - seven
1920 A. A. Cálem Colheita Port – This proud Portuguese producer was established in 1859. This particular bottling took place in 1943. Decanted and recorked last week. No wonder why the bottle looks brand new! A pretty stellar nose with cinnamon baked apples, mint and herbs. Light to medium-bodied, gentle and smooth, but ultimately lacking any real complexity. Otherwise, although it is simple, there is bracing acidity and a fine long aftertaste of caramelized sugar 89 points (7/1/07)
1927 Constantino Colheita Port – Ah, I had high hopes from Mr. Constantino who is the grandfather of Miguel and Tomas Roquette at Crasto. In fact, Constantino used the same property to create some stunning old Colheitas. Back into the nutty realm with sweet hazelnuts and also some treacle that makes for a memorable bouquet. This Constantino really has it all going for it, with not only great fragrances but also very lively acidity. 1927 is one of the greatest vintages of the century for Port and Madeira as Portugal was blessed with near-perfect growing conditions and healthy yields. I had not seen a ’27 Colheita before, but this is really a viscous vixen and so mouth filling that the fig and praline flavors meld along with a spiky lime nuance late in the game with a bit of heat at the very end. Harmonious and persistent in its attack, this is a very fine Colheita and my first Constantino. It is a classic and the overall impression belies the age of this beauty. 96 points (7/1/07)
A Charming Port Story Within-The-Story About Some Very Special Bottles: 1900 Ferreira “Duque De Braganca & Constantino 1927 Colheita
Alex B., (who also happened to donate both 1815 Colheitas) did me a huge favor of picking up three bottles which I purchased from a very kind woman near London. She was looking for a buyer for these bottles which belonged to her grandfather. I explained that two of these bottles would be included in a historic Colheita Port tasting attended by some close friend on the occasion of my 50th birthday and she and especially her mother, seemed quite pleased. After looking at the FTLOP website and realizing that my email was genuine, she agreed to my offer after a few weeks of emails back and forth to discuss the condition and background of the bottles.
Alex forwarded this note that Mrs. Owens gave him, to accompany the bottles, which reads as follows:
"Edward Joseph Buxton … Edward, Ted to his family, Eddie to his work colleagues was born in West Ham, London in August 1920. At the onset of the Second World War he joined the RAF and served as ground crew in England for the duration of the war. At the end of the war he qualified as a piping engineer and worked on several construction sites in England until the early 1970's when, working for AGIP (the Italian Oil company) he went to Nigeria to replace the oil pipes destroyed during the war in Biafra. After this, he worked for a time in Algeria and then moved on to Oporto.
Ted was a workaholic and nearly didn't go to Portugal because he liked a contract that was for a working pattern of 7 days a week, 12 hours a day and Oporto was only 12 hours a day, 6 days a week. He wondered what he could possibly do with a whole day off every week. He soon found, to his delight, that Porto had the famous port lodges and being a lover of port and a cigar, he enjoyed many a happy afternoon talking with and getting to know the workers at the various lodges. After being in Porto for some time he was directed by local friends he had made, to a small shop off the beaten track that sold only port, mostly from local estates, and here he purchased the odd interesting bottle from time to time.
Most of the bottles were drunk and immensely enjoyed by the family in England, though one bottle will never be forgotten. Whilst enjoying a celebration for the graduation of a family member in late 1986, Ted decided that he would open one of his special bottles. He didn't have his glasses on at the time but chose one of the 1963 bottles he had brought from Porto. I can still remember to this day the aroma, texture, colour and unbelievable flavour of the port. It was so good it stopped us all in our tracks. So impressed by it were we that Ted put his glasses on to read the label better. He nearly choked when he saw that he had pulled out a bottle of port from 1863.
What this port was or where in Oporto it had originated from, I wish I knew, all I know is that it was an experience to drink it. After Ted's death the last remaining ports have been looked after by his daughter, some has been drunk and some passed on to friends and those who will enjoy it."
The daughter that he was speaking about was actually the mother of Angela, who I had been emailing with back and forth for quite some time. To gain more information on the 1927 Constantino Colheita, I went directly to the source … well almost. I contacted my friend Miguel at Quinta do Crasto to gain some more insight into his mother’s father’s Port wine. After all, this gentleman was Mr. Constantino and I knew of his connection with Crasto and that he was Miguel’s grandfather. What I didn’t know anything about, was this specific vintage of Colheita that Constantino produced.
Miguel informed me:
"I already had a 1927 Constantino’s Colheita and it was a phenomenal wine. This was done last year with a very good friend that works at Taylor’s and he is also a Port maniac like me and you. From our records this Colheita was only bottled in the late ‘40s but the bottling date is not stated on the label. "
Armed with this information and lots of research to find out some info on the 1900 Ferreira and one lesser, old ruby Port that was part of the “package” I made a very solid offer which was accepted by Angela’s mother. Then it was only a matter of getting the bottles to the USA in the next year and a half. I asked Alex for assistance, as mentioned. He made a special trip to visit Mrs. Owen and had a wonderful talk while he was there. They got along splendidly and she generously gave him a gift from her father’s stash, quite the “bonus” birth year bottle for his efforts.
When Alex came on the 2006 Harvest Tour later that same year, he handed me the three bottles, plus his two 1815’s for the June 2007 tasting. Believe it or not, it was the first time that Alex and I had met in person, (a handful of times since then) although we knew each other well from our time spent on the FTLOP Forum. Everything was starting to come together very nicely, as I already had lots of ancient Colheitas in the cellar and these bottles were the coup de grace.
One last detail from Angela (Owen) Ted’s granddaughter:
“I love port, there's nothing I love more than a glass of port with biscuits and cheese, however, my knowledge is less than is to be desired. My grandfather was the expert and always produced a fine bottle out of his cellar for us to drink. He worked in Portugal for many years, and spent his days off buying port, as you do!! I feel over the moon that my granddad’s port would become a part of history (he would be very proud if he was still alive)."
I will send this newsletter to the Owen family, so they can read the story of what became of their father/grandfather’s bottles. To Angela and her mum, Alex and most of all, to Edward Joseph Buxton … the three of you have enriched my life and made my very special weekend, far greater. At the time the deal was consummated, we were mere strangers and today, we are all bound in this story by some legendary and revered bottles of very special Port.
Please take pride in knowing that these bottles were shared with a large group of Port lovers from England, Canada, Portugal and America -- who appreciated them far more than I could ever put into words.
Back to the tasting:
1931 Niepoort Garrafeira Port – I had one bottle of this before, with Dirk and he let me keep the bottle. Decanted from demijohn in 1938, then bottled in 1979. Whoa, that is not the nose I remember from the last bottle. It shows a chemical, soapy and musty aroma which is distracting, and borders on being offensive. Fortunately the palate is better with some plush apricot and peach fruit and yummy toffee nuances. The acidity comes to the fore and balances out the fruit and the sheer unctuous nature of the mouthfeel. Unfortunately the finish is both simple and short. Nothing like the 1931 which I remember fondly! 84 points (7/1/07)
1957 Barros Colheita Port – Bottled in 2001. Sinful chocolate and some citrus on the nose, translate to a spicy nuance and butterscotch flavors. A young heavy weight contender with fresh legs. Smooth and ready to drink now, this young pup has decades of life ahead of it. 91+ points (7/1/07)
1957 Kopke Colheita Port – Bottled in 2002. Regardless of my birth year, this is one of my all-time favorites by Kopke. Vitamin pill, cedar and walnuts, make for an odd combination. This is a big and chewy Colheita with great density, and a sweet profile. The only thing missing seems to be a bit of acid? Not the best showing of the 1957. I normally love this wine though. 92 points (7/1/07)
First place votes for the third flight of five:
- A. A. Cálem – none
- Constantino – seven votes
- Niepoort – two
- Barros – two
- Kopke – four
For my palate, the Colheita of the weekend was the 1890 A. J. da Silva
Daniel’s allowed us to order off the a la carte dinner menu and the 3-locations of Daniel’s Broiler are the ONLY restaurants in WA State to offer 100% USDA Prime steaks. Anyway, this was a perfect venue for doing our dinner as the wait staff took great care of us and did a stellar job with decanting and pouring the dinner wines, which are listed below:
2005 Portal de Fidalgo Alvarinho
2001 Hanzell Chardonnay
1972 Chateau Musar
1978 Chateau Musar 1996 Hudelot-Noellet Romanee St. Vivant
2003 A.P. Vin Garys’ Vineyard Pinot Noir 1989 Vina Ardanza Rioja Reserve
1999 Kanonkop Pinotage
1997 Ramos Pinto, Duas Quintas Reserva
1997 Seghesio Barolo 2003 Northstar Merlot, Walla Walla 2003 Ogier Cote Rotie
1991 Camus Special Select Cabernet Sauvignon
1997 Eberle Faso Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 1997 Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon
1983 Chateau Mouton Rothschild
1989 Chateau Pichon-Longueville Baron
Lots of food and lots of wine. It was a true pleasure to have so many good friends and family around me to celebrate my 50th. I have no idea what I’ll do for an encore when I turn 60. Thanks to everyone who came from near and far to participate in this historic event and hopefully, like me, you will always remember the great wines and camaraderie which we were privileged to share!