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Taylor's Vintage Port 1970

Over the last few weeks I have discussed a thought provoking selection of wines in my Weekend Wine feature, from aged Muscadet and unexpectedly fine Bordeaux from the generally forgettable 1993 vintage, through to fabulously flavoursome Condrieu and St-Estèphe from more recent vintages. But this week it is time for pure indulgence, as I crack open a birth-year wine to celebrate my recent nuptials. I promise this will be the only mention of my birthday here; last year I did keep a record of my birthday wines, but this year I am far too busy expanding the Bordeaux section of the site for that, so here goes with my one and only birthday wine tasting note.

Taylor's Vintge Port 1970This bottle was purchased not that long ago from the college cellars of an English university, so I am quite confident that the storage - ever since its purchase I would think - has been impeccable. The question of provenance is something that should always cross one's mind when finding bottles in such obviously perfect condition as this. The fill is amazing, well into the neck and indeed very close to the cork, and the exterior of the bottle is similarly impressive, with a flawless label. The capsule I initially thought was wax, surprisingly, but closer inspection revealed it to be a more common but very short metal foil. It came off without any difficulty, revealing a clean cork beneath. Expecting some trouble, I put my usual leverpull to one side and opted for a standard screwpull model, which I find allows for a more controlled extraction of the cork. Having had a much younger Delaforce not that long ago, from a vintage as recent as 1985, where the cork fell apart at the mere sight of a corkscrew, this seemed like a sensible precaution. But there was really no need; the lengthy, gently wine-stained cork came out in one piece. For this I was thankful; I don't own any port tongs, so that method was firmly out of the question. Once the bottle was open, decanting the wine was a simple process which went without a hitch.

Taylor's Vintge Port 1970I savoured this wine, the Taylor's 1970 Vintage Port, over three evenings, noting down how it developed over that time. On first opening it, it gave off some wonderfully sweet and complex aromas, very reminiscent of roasted meats, with a savoury-sweet, chargrilled note. This sweet, meaty, aroma stayed with the wine over the three days, with little touches of caramel. But it also showed some impressively persistent fruit, notes of gently macerated cherry and plum, with pepper and nutmeg spices. The palate doesn't disappoint after such a promising nose; most importantly it has a balanced, harmonious composition, where every component just seems to be present to just the right degree. It starts off with a very fresh, fluid presence, deliciously gentle and detached, before building both in grip and in backbone through the midpalate. It shows some firm alcohol on the finish, but with a creamy weight, plentiful fruit complexity and some chalky tannins which suggest to me that this wine will continue to improve in the cellar. And the length? It is very pleasing. Not, surprisingly, remarkably long, fading with little ceremony, but it does linger for a little while. Overall, a super wine which should drink well for a decade at least, and perhaps much longer than that. A great bottle. 19+/20 (12/3/07)

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