2011 PORT - any PORT in a storm or the VINTAGE of a lifetime?

The word 'vintage' means so many things in my world of wine. If you write 'vintage' it simply means produce of a single year. BUT, write 'Vintage' and that means so much more.

Warre’s Port AgeingNow and again nature and man meet very successfully together. 2011 and the producers of Port was one of those times. It is said it could be the best year since 1977 and rival the great 1963 too. A wet winter filled the sub-soil rock with water then a near drought in Spring made the vines push hard to grow and feed the growing grapes. Further into the year the sun was ripening the fruit whilst the roots were searching out the 'irrigation' deep underground. It was, in fact PERFECT!

To be 'Declared', a Port must be of a single year and good enough to be bottled after 2 years in cask. There must be the promise of great quality as over many years it slowly matures before it is ready to drink. That will be at least 15 years but hopefully 20, 40 or more years before it reaches the dizzy heights of perfection drinking. I might add that taste is much 'in the mouth of the drinker' [to mis-quote a famous saying] but it’s only in exceptional years this can happen and even then not all are as superb as 2011.

Before you think is it all 'huff and puff' unless you have had the chance to taste such a quality of Port it is nigh on impossible to even understand what it is all about BUT once you have... well in the world of Port drinking there is no going back so watch your pocket! [ha ha ha]

The 'Declaration' is in the Spring two years after harvest and as the casks are being tasted they are selected by the Master Winemakers and 'gurus' of each Port House. Those casks chosen will be bottled -in the town of Oporto - and the world is offered the 'first tranche' [another of the many special words]. Prices for this Vintage, the 2011, are all in the region of £60 per bottle and at this time you are expected to buy a minimum of 6 bottles. It can be as an investment and one many people love to do, as they look forward to the time when they can break open that wooden box of joy!

Fladgate 2011
Do note that the value of Vintage Port can, like stocks and shares, go up and down but we already know that by this Winter the cost for the 2011s will go up, probably by 10%, for the 'second tranche' - IF there is one as this Vintage most Port Houses have been so over-subscribed they have had to allocate the stock so there may be no second chance.

On 15th June I gathered together 7 of the best 2011 and had a superb tasting with a small group of customers. I then placed the orders and all have been confirmed [hurrah!]. As we must pay in advance I have also sent the bills out too but that is life. The Ports will arrive here shortly before the end of the year and then go down into our cellar in Loughborough where they will sit, untouched, for the next 15 or more years or maybe some will choose to have theirs at home to watch over it like guardians. Those who leave it with us will find their names are actually written on each case to confirm it is their property and they can collect it any time they wish. We mostly keep such tock because if it is in their home the temptation can be too great to open a bottle and to try too early would be sacrilege.

If you are a Port drinker then do spoil yourself one day and buy a Vintage Port that has matured and is ready to drink - but oh boy what a can of worms you will open!! Your taste-buds will never be the same again - ha ha ha.

Go on, you know you're worth it!

Happy drinking... Andrew

[Now, do I hear, once bought how do I decant it? I have a very simple method and no fancy decanters needed. Get in touch at andrewh@georgehill.co.uk and headline it 'Decanting Port please']

Ta ta for now