Warre’s Vintage Port 1980
For my penultimate Weekend Wine of 2007 we have this from Warre’s, a wine very suited to the time of year. Cold winter evenings, especially those spiced up with a little rain or perhaps a howling wind, always seem much more bearable with a rich, scented glass of Vintage Port such as this.
Port has long had a reputation for seeing off chills and ills. Writing in his Notes on a Cellar Book, George Saintsbury describes the administration of an 1873 to a member of his family who was ill. Although he does not describe whether the wine did much to ease her symptoms, it seems that both Saintsbury and the lady’s attending physician found the wine to be of great merit. When the latter set his glass down he declared …’That won’t do her any harm’. I would not be surprised if he took a second sample just to be sure. Some have gone much further in the passing off of Port as medicine, such as Toulouse-Lautrec, who recommended in L’Art de la Cuisine the maceration of a pound of garlic in a litre of Port for twenty days, and its subsequent consumption, once daily before the soup course, as a cure for chronic bronchitis.
I make no such claims for Port, but I would suggest that although it may not cure diseases, it can surely warm the heart and spirit most effectively. The 1980 Vintage Port from Warre’s can do this, I think. In the glass it has a dark hue, not glossy or rich but nevertheless close to opaque. The nose has an appealing scent, with nuances of raspberry, toffee and violets, intertwined with notes of spice, sandalwood and pepper. On the palate it has a firm, dense, quite creamy presence, with a texture that builds through the midpalate to a finish that has a good bite, still showing a little spirit here that still needs to settle down for this wine to reach its peak. The flavour is good, a little floral but with a lot of spice, fig and aromatic wood, and there is a gritty sweetness to it, part muscovado sugar, part molasses, as well as a satisfactory grip underneath it all. Although not the greatest declared vintage by any means, the fact this year is overlooked can make it good value, as I found when I purchased these bottles. What is more, although these give pleasure now, they have a lot more in store for the future I think. I look forward to subsequent bottles. 18/20 (24/12/07)