Wednesday, 26 December 2012

1977 Dow Vintage Port and 2004 Dow Vintage Port

I am sitting with a glass of each of these glorious Port wines in front of me as I write this.  These are some fine Ports!

1977 Dow Vintage Port (left) and 2004 Dow Vintage Port (right)

I would have to give the nod to the 1977 Dow Vintage Port being superior, both in terms of wine quality and also since it holds a special memory for me.  I had two bottles for a very long time that I purchased while in Graduate School a long, long time ago.  However, through misfortune, I was only able to drink only one glass of this brilliant Port wine.  As a very special treat for my 60th birthday, my wife found and surprised me with two bottles of the 1977 Dow Vintage Port.

The picture above shows the 1977 Dow to be slighter browner, but that is not the case.  This is still in its optimal drinking period.  Being high in alcohol, most Port wines will last a very long time.  When I opened the 1977 Dow Vintage Port, the cork crumbled (even when using the Ah So - that's how saturated and weak the 35 year old cork was!)  The cork split and the bottom went into the bottle.  I had to filter the wine to remove the cork and the sediment.  Fortunately, being a high alcohol wine, it was still in good condition and improved after decanting.

The 2004 Dow Vintage Port is an excellent wine and I paid $30 per bottle for this.  But the wine is a child yet - so tight and with the grape fibers still interlocking (that is why is looks darker around the edges compared to the 1977 which is looser and therefore smoother)!  While drinkable today, it will last another ten years and soften over that period of time and even longer.  However, once I work my way through my two bottles of the 1977 Dow Vintage Port, my last 1967 Lindeman's Vintage Port, and two bottles of the 1980 Lindeman's Vintage Port, then I will seriously start work my way through the 14 bottles of the 2004 Dow Vintage Port I have.   I expect this will not occur for another 2 - 3 years.

The 2004 Dow Vintage Port tastes of blackberry and boysenberry.  It has a sharp smell when you nose it, but is smoother to the palate.  It is thick, a bit sweeter and and does not have the complexity of the 1977.  It starts full, but has a weak finish.  The 2004 Dow Vintage Port is still trying to figure out what type of wine it wants to be and is almost combative with your palate.  I expect this Port has a lot of potential though and will benefit from more years in the bottle. 

By comparison, the 1977 Dow Port is elegant.  The nose is softer and more subtle, but once the wine hits your palate, you can taste the intensity and concentrated plum and blackberry flavors.  This wine is sharp to the taste and lasts a very long time.  But then the 1977 Dow Vintage Port does benefit from 35 years of aging!  It is beautifully balanced and sits in perfect harmony on your tongue and against your cheeks.  And the 1977 is certainly a more expensive wine (than the 2004) today, even though it went at a reasonable price when first available. 

The very best vintage in a long, long time of Dow Vintage Port is the 2007.  This wine was so popular, it never made its way to Australia.  I was fortunate to pick up two bottles of this in the US about 18 months ago.  This wine is rated by many to be a rare 100/100.  However, I definitely need to let this wine mature in the cellar for a long, long time.  The trick is to determine when is the best time to drink them.  I want to make sure I still have a good enough palate to be able to discern the quality, yet not drink it before its time.  I just hope its time comes before my time!

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