Taylor’s Vintage Port 1975
My own memories of 1975 concern little more than school holidays and sandpits, and even these are dim and distant, and recalled only with considerable difficulty. For many Portuguese, however, it is a very different story. This was a time of revolution, a process which began with a military coup in April 1974 and which with time saw their authoritarian dictatorship replaced with democratic rule. It is often referred to as the Carnation Revolution, as many of the insurgents involved placed red carnations from the Lisbon flower market, an important rallying point for the protestors, in their gun barrels. It is also surely the only revolution where the European Song Contest played a significant role; the airing of the Portuguese entry, E depois do adeus by Paulo de Carvalho was the signal for the rebels to begin their coup. What they began on that night was a very slow upheaval, with the process of revolution taking well over a year, a time known to by the Portuguese as the Processo Revolucionário Em Curso, or On-Going Revolutionary Process. It was not until 1976 that a democratically elected government finally took office.
In the midst of this turmoil the Port trade continued, and although 1974 was a year that yielded little more than a few decent late-bottled-vintage Ports, 1975 was widely declared. In retrospect it was perhaps not as successful a vintage as this declaration might suggest, and as Richard Mayson alleges in Port and the Douro (Faber & Faber, 1999) the shippers “talked themselves into a declaration”. Some have proposed that revolutionary fever led to the widespread declaration although as this did not occur until 1977, by which time democracy was well established, this is perhaps a little unlikely. What is certain is that with time in bottle the wines of this hot summer have come to be regarded as soft, easy drinking and of little interest compared to other declared vintages. After all, we can read the opinions of Port aficionados on 1963, 1970, 1977 and so on everywhere we look, but when was the last time you saw anyone waxing lyrical over the 1975s?
In fact this wine, the 1975 from Taylor’s, is perhaps my first experience of the vintage. I drank a lot more Port as a student than I do now, and it was largely vintage Port, which was then surprisingly affordable. Unfortunately I didn’t keep good notes back then, so I can’t be sure, but the year doesn’t ring any bells for me. Today the wine has a good colour in the glass, still showing a healthy red pigment although with a strong tawny element and not with a huge depth or opacity. The nose is quite mature, a touch spirity, with some gentle, stony, gritty red fruits. On the palate there is an immediately apparent sweetness which persists through to the finish, with a good substance, backbone of spirit and certainly some punch. In all honesty I suppose it wears its structure rather plainly, showing its firm grip without the softening features of fruit or texture that we can find in greater wines. Nevertheless, this certainly has some quality and it is quite sufficient for provoking reflection on a cold December’s evening between Christmas and New Year, although I don’t think I will be looking to add any more to the cellar. 16.5/20 (29/12/08)