Vintage Port – Why Should I Buy It Young?

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I must have been in my early twenties, when I tasted my first mature port. Still remember the wine, the 1965 Fonseca Guimaerens Vintage Port. It took me by surprise, how well it had aged. Graceful, elegant and still very alive. A passion had awakened; I started to buy Vintage Port. With age, because they didn’t command astronomical price tags.

I noticed quite quickly how well the lesser known houses tasted at around 15-20 years of age. Then, around 2000, I bought and consumed a lot of the 1982’s. An underrated vintage. They were gorgeous and the prices…..ridiculous! When I left the wine business the year after, I had purchased some 1960, 63, 70, 77, 80, 82, 83, 85 and 1987 at most reasonable prices. None left today, but boy were those wines good when popped.

Please come back in thirty years or so!

2013. A young Vintage Port costs a fortune compared with the prices I paid ten or twelve years ago, index-linking taken into consideration. I’m fine with that,at least to some extent. Vintage Port deserves recognition in the price paid as well. After all, you pay fifty euros for a  2009 Bordeaux Chateau that won’t charm your pants off. Add a tener and you have a Vintage Port wine from the same year that kicks ass (at least in two or three decades). What disturbs me is not the price asked for a 2009 vintage port; it’s the time it needs before reaching the stage when it’s showing all its glory.

Some 1977 Vintage Port still feels, well not young, but not fully evolved. Still a lot to go there. I suspect 2009 will be an even greater vintage, not only because of the knowledge how to make a great wine accumulated over the past decades, it’s a great vintage as well. 1977, that is more than 35 years ago. I will be 75 when I pop my 2009 Vintage ports! Senile, adult diapers, perhaps stone dead? Who knows. So, please tell me, why should I buy it?

I’m not into speculating in wine. Sure, I’ve sold a few cases. After all, I’m not stupid considering what people were prepared to pay just because the label said Rothschild. The starting point is, I’m going to drink and enjoy the wine. It’s just that  I don’t see the point in drinking young vintage port. I can taste a potential yes and perhaps get an indication where it is heading, but it is a waste of money to drink 2009 right now. In 2039 it probably makes much more sense.

The inevitable question; how much will a 2009 Vintage Port cost then? I’m not in possession of a Gray’s Sports Almanac to tell, but with index in mind, I’m not sure it’s worth the investment. Doing a quick search on the web for prices on vintage port from the 1970’s and 80’s doesn’t result in a chock, not even nearby. The prices are really sane. And I get a bottle closer to maturity – or perfect now.

The time needed for a Vintage Port to reach maturity doesn’t motivate me to buy them young. Perhaps when I was twenty it was a good idea but how many of us have an economy worth mentioning at that age? Furthermore I live to taste a great wine during my lifetime, not saving the stuff for my kids. So tell me, why should I buy young Vintage Port and not putting more and more focus on the old Tawny Ports – and mature bottles of Vintage wines?

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  • Finare Vinare

    Good one, Niklas! The savvy buyer should consider purchasing older bottles across the line – most of them are sensibly priced and time saved is worth a lot as the real pleasure gets so much closer.

    We should get in touch about an old port tasting in November!

    • http://madaboutmadeira.org/ Niklas Jorgensen

      Thanks!

      Buying wine for investment purposes is not as lucrative I think as it once was. Today only a few wines will reward that thinking. A Vintage Port will not, not in my world. The prices asked for, if you pick up a wine from the 1960-80s shows that pretty well.

      Those who wont agree with me might say they want to secure the wines, and also make sure it is properly stored. True, but how many of us today have storing facilities to keep a wine in 30 years? Not in a flat, and few houses have a great cellar today. And why can I still find all the classic names, with age, on the market?

      This is not a critique against Vintage Port, heck I love it (not as much as tawny though), but in the end, I’m just a consumer caring about an experience – and my money.

      Best

      Niklas

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