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Warre’s Vintage Port 1985

Warre’s Vintage Port 1985

Rummaging around in the cellar for something to drink around Christmas time produced a good result in this, my last bottle of Warre’s 1985. I’ve long been a fan of Port – I would almost always have a bottle on the go as a student, back in the days when 1961s, 1970s and 1977s could be picked up for a song – but these days the corks I pull are far fewer in number, and Port drinking is limited mostly to the more wintry months of the year. Perhaps this is just because I live in a warm, centrally-heated house now, whereas in my unheated student’s digs it felt like winter all year round. You could leave the two-bar electric fire on all night, and the ice on the inside of the windows would still not have melted by morning. There’s never a bad time for Port in that setting.

Having uncovered this bottle I initially thought this was my very last from this vintage, although further excavations have also revealed a couple of bottles of 1985 Fonseca, so it looks as though I will be coming back to this vintage at some point in the future. And that’s good to know because, although quality was variable in 1985, when you find a good one they are delicious to drink.

Warre's Vintage Port 1985

One of the problems with 1985 Port has been volatile acidity, which manifests as high-toned, ethyl acetate, nail-polish or similar aromas. This was a unpleasant surprise for punters pulling the corks, because during the vinification and declaration there was not a hint of a problem. In his excellent book Port and the Douro (Infinite Ideas, 2013), which is well worth a punt if you are wondering what to spend your Christmas gift vouchers on, Richard Mayson postulated that “hot weather during the vintage, over-use of chemical fertilisers producing musts of low acidity, and poor handling and hygiene” was to blame. Whatever the reason, I have certainly encountered one or two whiffy 1985 Ports, in particular the 1985 Niepoort, although I have experienced far more successes than failures. And I’ve never had any problem with the 1985 Warre’s; as I said, when you get a good one, they can be delicious to drink.

The cork on this 1985 Warre’s Vintage Port came out easily and in one piece, not bad for a wine at thirty years of age; as an aside, I suspect the wine has spent between fifteen and twenty of those years in my cellar, although exactly when and where I acquired this bottle is now long forgotten The wine thus released displayed a surprisingly pale hue as it hit the glass, showing a core of rosy claret, with a rather wide, equally pale rim given over to a bricky hue. The nose is certainly true to form, but gentle and evolved now, with a little seam of macerated raspberry fruit at first, before revealing layers of tobacco leaf, dusty old school desks and a little toasted almond. On the palate, this has a gentle and sweet texture, but with the sweetness of the flesh nicely countered by the acid backbone and kick of the structure. It has a full, fairly grippy and confident finish which contrasts somewhat against the more feminine and harmonious midpalate. Overall, very pretty, quite charming, although perhaps showing a less confident character than it did when last tasted which was perhaps six or seven years ago. Holding up nicely, although I think if I had any more bottles I would plan to drink these over the next few years. 17.5/20 (28/12/15)

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