I opened a '94 Smith Woodhouse LBV tonight..

I don't know what I was expecting, and while I'll keep posted on how things progress..

But after only 10 minutes I tried it, and was surprized how similar the experience is to when I tried a Dow '83..

The smell and taste upon opening was exactly like that of the Dow after it had been opened for 5-6 hours (Taste: Sweet, Fiji or Golden apple, with a bit of bitterness.. Medium body.. Pleasantly hot, especially on finish. Nose: Apples and alcohal, spicy)..

I was especially surprized that:

A) It was pretty much ready to go right out of the bottle (I'm sure a couple hours will take the rough edges off)..

The Dow was not drinkable till at least 5 hours had passed..

B) That the taste/nose was so similar.. I was expecting, from the TN's, etc. that I'd read, that a different Port house to have a different signiture.. A different taste, less sweet, less dry, different colour.. Something..

This Port, while having a bit less body than the Dow (again, this may change in a few hours), is virtually identical..

Now, I'm aware my lack of Port experience and sophistication and unrefined pallet is telling here, but...

I'm tempted to go the LBV route, now, seeing as how they are less expensive than the VP's..

I won't of course..

But I won't be writing LBV's off, as I thought I would be (I'd assumed, again, from the TN's, etc. I'd read) that they were inferior to VP's, and had purchased one to see for myself and confirm and compare).

Also, this is the second time my rabbit ear corkscrew proved absolutely useless at extracting the cork.. Again it was pushed in, and I had to put a pen in there to keep it away from the neck while I poured to get anything out..

An Ah So is the way to go, I'm guessing?

Why are my rabbit ears not working for Ports, like they do for other wines?

More later!
Original Post
Doug- I'm sure a resident port-head will answer your questions about the port. I doubt that the 83 was really mature and ready to go, but I have no experience with 83s.

As for the corkscrew question- I would suggest that for old corks you get yourself a screwpull manual opener. This is the device that comes as 2 pieces- a long screw and a bell-shaped piece that straddles the bottle and that the screw goes through. I open mature wines with this type of opener all the time with great success. This thing pulls the cork very straight (no twisting or tilting) and you can pull the cork very slowly with it, which I find useful when a cork is soft.
quote:
Also, this is the second time my rabbit ear corkscrew proved absolutely useless at extracting the cork.. Again it was pushed in, and I had to put a pen in there to keep it away from the neck while I poured to get anything out..



Big Grin Big Grin Big Grin Big Grin
quote:
Originally posted by doug zdanivsky:
Also, this is the second time my rabbit ear corkscrew proved absolutely useless at extracting the cork.. Again it was pushed in, and I had to put a pen in there to keep it away from the neck while I poured to get anything out..


For wines with 20+ year old corks I use one of 2 methods to extract the cork.
1) use one of those needle and airpump corkscrews.
2) Use a regular corkscrew at an angle to fix the cork in place and then use a thieving butler (aka Ah-So; 2 pronged cork remover) to remove the cork.
quote:
Originally posted by doug zdanivsky:
Does it do anything bad to the wine when you push the cork in?


No, I have broke a cork in half and had to push it into the wine or some of the remnants fell into the wine, no problems though.

The old cork in the wine is a classic, isn't it?
quote:
Originally posted by doug zdanivsky:
Does it do anything bad to the wine when you push the cork in?


Not really, the dirty bit of tree bark has been sitting in the wine for many years anyway. The real problem is if the cork crumbles and you have to strain out all the bits of cork. It doesn't do anything bad to the wine, but it makes it a bit harder to drink.
Tried it again this morning (in the decanter for the duration)..

As I'd hoped the rough edges have been smoothed,out..

That slight bitterness on the attack and finish is gone, the nose is more apple, less alcohal, the sweetness is more pronounced.. Very mellow all around..

And again, not much different from the Dow '83 I tried..

So the question stands, why not spend less on an LBV that tastes pretty much the same, and can be enjoyed earlier?

Like I say, the question is rhetorical, and I'll definately be getting more of these Smith Woodhouse LBV's!
I haven't seen (or looked for really) a Smith Woodhouse LBV port in my travels, but I can tell you what type of LBV offers value for money and a taste that is more approximating a VP - you want to look for LBV's that say "Traditional" or "Unfiltered." Warre and Quinta do Noval make them that way, They actually have the ability to age a few years too. The best give you a good bang for $20
Nice post, Doug - you make some interesting observations. My 2 cents:

Yes, LBV can be superb, even surpassing Vintage Port in some instances. Mind you, Smith Woodhouse is one of the best for LBV, together with Warre and Niepoort (IMHO, of course). Burmester is nice as well, but tends to mature early. I do like Noval and Qta. d. Crasto, but never had a really old example (IIRC, Noval only started making unfiltered LBV with the '92 or '94 Vintage). Qta. d. Romaneira makes some killer LBVs as well.

I won't give up on VP though. A well cellared example, opened at its prime reaches peaks an LBV just won't in terms of complexity.
TR99: good price, great Port! Really worth a try - I've tried it a few times already, but never got round to post a TN: it is a lovely glass of Port!
Tawnies are different - they're tawny coloured for a start.

I have nothing against LBVs and used to drink them quite a bit. I like Warre's trad LBV and other ones recently were the Quinta do Crasto - nice and Niepoort - very nice.
Really do look out for Niepoort Doug, they make some of the best LBV around, together with Stevies other excellent suggestions.

Good LBV's can equal or surpass some VP's in quality, but a good vintage port will always be the winner in my book.
If you run across any of the 1997 Ramos Pinto LBV buy it and try it. That is probably the best LBV I've had. This was brought to my attention by StevieCage in this thread and as usual was a great recommendation!
The eternal portlover's question: Is vintage port really worth two or three times more than LBVs? I guess that's like asking if First Growth bordeaux are really worth ten times more than a top chateauneuf du pape, or white burgundy much more than most California chardonnay? Not quite the same of course, as the tastes are different in the latter two examples but close enough to make the point I hope.

I've liked lots of LBVs but few as well as I've liked an even average vintage port. Continue tasting and deciding for yourself, is the best advice, I guess.
Looks like I'm definately going to have to do a side by side comparison..

As for the Niepoort, the only thing I could find on the BC Liquor store website was a Secundum Vintage 2000, whatever that is..
Doug, it is a VP in made in a different style as the regular Niepoort VP. Somewhat softer, and ment to be drank younger. It's good!
Yikes..

I don't know if I have the patience to cellar something that long..

I'll try.. Smile

But I'm going to concentrate on buying "drink now" Ports that have 20 years under them already.. Or LBV's..
You should try a fully-aged vintage port before you judge the relative merits, but they are bloody hard to find in Canada and cost lots. Most 85s, while ready, suffer from volatile acidity and/or are expensive, I'm not sure that the 83s are ready even yet, and 80 is a weak vintage. 1977 is expensive and the best are not yet ready.

You may wish to (if you can find one) try a single quinta from 87 (i.e. Vargellas) or 88 (Malvedos), or 91 (Vargellas), decant it in the morning and drink some that night and some the next night, to get a fair taking on the wine. These are all still pretty young but close enough, reasonably priced and perhaps available.
quote:
not sure that the 83s are ready even yet, and 80 is a weak vintage. 1977 is expensive and the best are not yet ready.


Wow.. the '70 Warre's is $225 Cdn! Eek

My record for wine so far has been $80 for a single bottle..

Not one I'm looking to break just yet.. Smile

What are the Vargellas and Malvedos designations?

There's a Grahams Maldavos '96 for $60 Cdn on the BC Liquor store website, but that's about it..

PS

What IS Port fortified with, exactly?

Is it just brandy?

A freind was asking and I didn't know what to tell him..
Not wishing to gloat (oh hell go on then, I'm so used to being ripped off here) but I bought up 8 bottles of Malvedos 1996 at £10 per bottle Smile
Yes, that's good: I hate you, KillerB - but you knew that already.

Doug, regular price here is about 35 Euros. Vargellas and Malvedos are quintas of Taylor and Gramham - under which label they make VP in non-classic years.
Port is fortified with neutral (pressed) grape spirit of +/- 77% alcohol.
Pounds, Euros.. Still in the dark, here.. Smile

Well, let's check the handy-dandy converter..

35 Euro in $49 Cdn..

10 pounds (how do you make the pound symbol?) is $20.50 CDN..

Holy Shnikeys!!! Eek

Quintas are estates owned by the same winery, right?

Like Niagara and Okanagan Inniskillin?
Quintas are vineyards. Most ports are blends of grapes from different vineyards, offering different strengths and weaknesses. Each top port house has at least one top vineyard, or quinta, and in non-declared (AKA: less than wonderful) vintages, they will make a single quinta port from the grapes from their best, or best two or three sometimes, vineyards, or quintas.

For example, for Taylor Quinta do Vargellas, for Dow, Malvedos (not sure if this is a proper quinta or not) and Bomfin, for Smith Woodhouse, Madelena. Quinta do Vesuvio is only made as a single quinta.

Clear as mud? Wink Big Grin
Ah Port, my favorite subject. If I tried a LBV that tasted like 1983 Dow, I'd pour it out and try something else. Though 1994 was, in general an excellent year, the 1983 Dow was not. I have had this wine four times and every bottle has been questionable. Something has happened to this wine and it isn't good. I believe I read that the house has also been surprised at how the wine has turned.

Smith Woodhouse makes excellent LBV and their 1977 Vintage port is probably one of the best I have had. You may still be able to find a 1989 Dow Quinta Bomfin. This was not an exceptional year but this wine is fine. Exercise some degree of caution, because like most wine, age is not always the answer. I think some of the 1995's are drinkable now, but the 1992's are not. I still haven't run into a bad 1985, but I am very skeptical of 1983. The 1983 Taylor is another wine to avoid. It is weird. I think it was bottle by the Creature from the Black Lagoon, because it doesn't taste like any Taylor I've had before or since.

I would agree with most of the others. Try Niepoort. They're wines are generally good and less expensive. I wouldn't recommend tawny or Colheita. They're very sweet and more of a nutty flavorable.

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