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Which LBVs are worth cellaring?

Posted: 22:45 Fri 06 May 2016
by AHB
Owen's recent tasting note on the Croft 2004 LBV made me think it would be worth having a thread where we discuss currently available LBVs which will reward some time in the cellar. The three I will start with are the Sogrape family:
Ferreira
Sandeman
Offley

These are fabulous ports. The current vintages of Ferreira and Sandeman (2011) are brilliant ports. The current vintage of Offley (2010) is a little behind the other two but still darned good. The 2010 vintages are also a real class apart from other years. All three are bottled unfiltered and are real, proper serious ports that were bottled after 4 years in the barrel and so don't qualify to be called vintage port - they are different in style but they are great wines. All three will mature, soften and develop secondary and tertiary flavours over the next 20-30 years.

I recommend all of these to anyone (such as Sweeney) who is looking to start a collection of port for current and future drinking. Bottles such as these could form the core of a great cellar for tomorrow.

Re: Which LBVs are worth cellaring?

Posted: 23:01 Fri 06 May 2016
by LGTrotter
My trouble is that I associate LBVs with my wilderness years for port. Desperately awful wines which I am sorry to say Taylor still produces. There are good LBVs but they are not uniform.

Re: Which LBVs are worth cellaring?

Posted: 23:03 Fri 06 May 2016
by Thomas
Offley Boa Vista has a 2011 LBV, so I don't understand that you write their current one is 2010?

Else great initiative and very interesting thread. I hear that the Ferreira 2010 and 2009 LBV is also really something. Especially the 2009 is supposedly hard to come by.

Re: Which LBVs are worth cellaring?

Posted: 23:07 Fri 06 May 2016
by AHB
Thomas wrote:Offley Boa Vista has a 2011 LBV, so I don't understand that you write their current one is 2010?
You are right, I was being lazy in my writing. The Offley LBV being offered for sale in the UK - according to Sogrape UK - is the 2010 vintage, this despite the fact that the 2011 vintages of Ferreira and Sandeman are the current vintage on the market. I don't know why this is, but it is what I was told at the BFT. It could be that there is a small stock of the Offley 2010 remaining in the UK which needs to be sold before the UK moves on to the 2011 vintage.

Re: Which LBVs are worth cellaring?

Posted: 23:14 Fri 06 May 2016
by AHB
LGTrotter wrote:My trouble is that I associate LBVs with my wilderness years for port. Desperately awful wines which I am sorry to say Taylor still produces. There are good LBVs but they are not uniform.
Taylor's LBV is aimed at a particular market. People who read and post on this board are probably not that market. Taylor's LBV is a good product for the market it is aimed at - it is easy, simple and not an intellectual drink. If you are a restauranteur it is a good choice to offer to patrons by the glass.

Mind you, I rarely buy Taylor LBV if I eat somewhere it is offered. But then I am spoiled as my local restaurant carries Croft Roeda as their port.

Re: Which LBVs are worth cellaring?

Posted: 00:28 Sat 07 May 2016
by AW77
In addition to the Sandeman, I would recommend the following LBVs for cellaring:

- Niepoort
- Noval (unfiltered)
- Rozes
- Warre (unfiltered)

Re: Which LBVs are worth cellaring?

Posted: 03:33 Sat 07 May 2016
by CaliforniaBrad
I totally agree with the notion that there are many LBVs out there that can benefit from bottle aging.

My personal favorites, in no particular order:

Smith-Woodhouse
Niepoort
Crasto (partially because of its very attractive price)
Noval (unfiltered)
Warre (especially many over 20 y/o)


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Re: Which LBVs are worth cellaring?

Posted: 08:50 Sat 07 May 2016
by Sweeney
AHB, great insight on both this thread and my intro thread which you have posted on.

This is exactly the sort of advice a newbie like me needs, one who perhaps would like to start a reasonable collection but can't really afford to start with a dozen bottles of fine vintage.

You have all been a great help and very friendly. No VP snobbery or sniggering at the new guy who knows nothing.

Great forum. Thanks.

One more question though. I have read somewhere that LBV should be stored upright. However, I am guessing that if it is unfiltered it should be laid flat like any other sedimented Port. Would I be correct in this assumption?

Re: Which LBVs are worth cellaring?

Posted: 11:51 Sat 07 May 2016
by jdaw1
Sweeney wrote:No VP snobbery or sniggering at the new guy who knows nothing.
I remember my first Port, and then knew only two things. ➊ This is good. ➋ I know nothing else.

This is not unusual. We have all been there.

Re: Which LBVs are worth cellaring?

Posted: 12:34 Sat 07 May 2016
by LGTrotter
Sweeney wrote: One more question though. I have read somewhere that LBV should be stored upright. However, I am guessing that if it is unfiltered it should be laid flat like any other sedimented Port. Would I be correct in this assumption?
The general consensus is that they are best stored lying down if you are intending to keep them for any length of time. You tend to get 't' stoppers on LBVs (shorter corks with a plastic bit on the top to get hold of) which I think are fine for storing lying down, as evidenced by the 12yo Croft 2004 which had a 't' stopper. Keep an eye on the necks of the bottles and if any start to weep then drink them. Some LBVs are given a driven cork (Sandeman and Warre are the two which spring to mind) and these certainly should be kept lying down.

Re: Which LBVs are worth cellaring?

Posted: 12:41 Sat 07 May 2016
by LGTrotter
AHB wrote:
LGTrotter wrote:My trouble is that I associate LBVs with my wilderness years for port. Desperately awful wines which I am sorry to say Taylor still produces. There are good LBVs but they are not uniform.
Taylor's LBV is aimed at a particular market. People who read and post on this board are probably not that market. Taylor's LBV is a good product for the market it is aimed at - it is easy, simple and not an intellectual drink. If you are a restauranteur it is a good choice to offer to patrons by the glass.

Mind you, I rarely buy Taylor LBV if I eat somewhere it is offered. But then I am spoiled as my local restaurant carries Croft Roeda as their port.
I take your point but I still think Taylor and Graham are high quality houses which could and should make something better in the LBV line than they do. Perhaps it would get too complicated to do a premium LBV alongside their standard one.

Re: Which LBVs are worth cellaring?

Posted: 14:09 Sat 07 May 2016
by CaliforniaBrad
LGTrotter wrote:
AHB wrote:
LGTrotter wrote:My trouble is that I associate LBVs with my wilderness years for port. Desperately awful wines which I am sorry to say Taylor still produces. There are good LBVs but they are not uniform.
Taylor's LBV is aimed at a particular market. People who read and post on this board are probably not that market. Taylor's LBV is a good product for the market it is aimed at - it is easy, simple and not an intellectual drink. If you are a restauranteur it is a good choice to offer to patrons by the glass.

Mind you, I rarely buy Taylor LBV if I eat somewhere it is offered. But then I am spoiled as my local restaurant carries Croft Roeda as their port.
I take your point but I still think Taylor and Graham are high quality houses which could and should make something better in the LBV line than they do. Perhaps it would get too complicated to do a premium LBV alongside their standard one.
Perhaps, but other houses do, in a sense. Both Noval and Fonseca make filtered and unfiltered versions aimed at different market segments, and I'm guessing they're not the only ones who do so.

Re: Which LBVs are worth cellaring?

Posted: 16:48 Sat 07 May 2016
by John M
CaliforniaBrad wrote:I totally agree with the notion that there are many LBVs out there that can benefit from bottle aging.

My personal favorites, in no particular order:

Smith-Woodhouse
Niepoort
Crasto (partially because of its very attractive price)
Noval (unfiltered)
Warre (especially many over 20 y/o)


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalkz. U
+1 on these 5 being favorites and the best and age-worthy. The Crasto I can get, in a case, for $17-$19 per which is quite attractive, and have paid as little as $12 (about 3 years ago in a close out).

Re: Which LBVs are worth cellaring?

Posted: 16:53 Sat 07 May 2016
by Andy Velebil
While I was generally not a big fan of their LBV's in the past, the 2009 Taylor's LBV is excellent. Worth trying it. IMO and experience Taylor's/Fonseca have, in recent years, been improving the quality of their mid-range products (Ruby Reserves, LBV, and tawny's with an indication of age). If you've not had them in a while, worth giving them a go again.

Crasto makes some fantastic LBV's that are better than most of their VP's.

Re: Which LBVs are worth cellaring?

Posted: 17:19 Sat 07 May 2016
by CaliforniaBrad
Andy Velebil wrote:While I was generally not a big fan of their LBV's in the past, the 2009 Taylor's LBV is excellent. Worth trying it. IMO and experience Taylor's/Fonseca have, in recent years, been improving the quality of their mid-range products (Ruby Reserves, LBV, and tawny's with an indication of age). If you've not had them in a while, worth giving them a go again.

Crasto makes some fantastic LBV's that are better than most of their VP's.
That's not solely due to the high quality of Crasto's LBVs though :-P.

Re: Which LBVs are worth cellaring?

Posted: 23:58 Sat 07 May 2016
by LGTrotter
On a positive note the Sandeman at Waitrose is a belter, young and will keep and grow for years.

Re: Which LBVs are worth cellaring?

Posted: 12:59 Mon 09 May 2016
by AHB
Sweeney wrote:AHB, great insight on both this thread and my intro thread which you have posted on.

This is exactly the sort of advice a newbie like me needs, one who perhaps would like to start a reasonable collection but can't really afford to start with a dozen bottles of fine vintage.
That's useful feedback and good to know that what we are doing is helpful to you and - with luck - others who are reading the thread but haven't yet taken the step to joining the forum.
Sweeney wrote:You have all been a great help and very friendly. No VP snobbery or sniggering at the new guy who knows nothing.

Great forum. Thanks.
We try, but talking about the drink we love makes it very easy to be friendly. The only rivalry you might come across on the forum is good natured teasing between those who prefer tawny ports over ruby ports and vice versa.
Sweeney wrote:One more question though. I have read somewhere that LBV should be stored upright. However, I am guessing that if it is unfiltered it should be laid flat like any other sedimented Port. Would I be correct in this assumption?
I always store my port with the corks in contact with the wine. This keeps the corks moist and should prevent air from getting in and spoiling the wine. I believe that t-corks fail a little more frequently than driven corks but I have only had one fail on my in the last 10 years and that just meant I had to open an drink the bottle earlier than I would have preferred - no hardship there!

Interestingly, there is also a minority view held by at least one historic port producer (Vilar d'Allen) that all port should be stored upright and at the tiny bit of air which enters trough the dried out cork adds to the complexity and attractiveness of the mature port.

Re: Which LBVs are worth cellaring?

Posted: 13:32 Mon 09 May 2016
by jdaw1
AHB wrote:The only rivalry you might come across on the forum is good natured teasing between those who prefer tawny ports over ruby ports and vice versa.
The People’s Front of Judea: splitters.

Re: Which LBVs are worth cellaring?

Posted: 22:21 Mon 09 May 2016
by LGTrotter
I was looking through the tasting notes on this site to see if there is an upper limit on the keeping qualities of LBV port. There are a few outliers (1927, 1958, 1961 and 1967) but it isn't until the mid seventies that there seem to be enough notes to give a clear picture of how they drink over time. I suppose this coincides with the regular releases of this style in quantity sufficient to appear more than once in the tasting notes.

My sense from a quick skim of these notes that there really isn't any difference in the keeping qualities of LBVs compared to single quinta or vintage ports. Is this the case? Makes me wonder why I have been buying all this rather expensive vintage stuff...

Re: Which LBVs are worth cellaring?

Posted: 23:13 Mon 09 May 2016
by CaliforniaBrad
LGTrotter wrote:I was looking through the tasting notes on this site to see if there is an upper limit on the keeping qualities of LBV port. There are a few outliers (1927, 1958, 1961 and 1967) but it isn't until the mid seventies that there seem to be enough notes to give a clear picture of how they drink over time. I suppose this coincides with the regular releases of this style in quantity sufficient to appear more than once in the tasting notes.

My sense from a quick skim of these notes that there really isn't any difference in the keeping qualities of LBVs compared to single quinta or vintage ports. Is this the case? Makes me wonder why I have been buying all this rather expensive vintage stuff...
In my experience, while the best can age wonderfully for 20+ years, I'd be hard pressed to say I've had any that would rival top VPs for staying power and complexity. If you're simply looking for something that can age well in the short to medium term and provide a good to great experience, top LBVs and occasionally SQVPs are the way to go. Rarely do I feel you can find lower and middle rung VPs at a more attractive price for the same uses. You can't beat the price/quality ratio of top notch LBV these days.

Re: Which LBVs are worth cellaring?

Posted: 07:39 Tue 10 May 2016
by Andy Velebil
CaliforniaBrad wrote:
LGTrotter wrote:I was looking through the tasting notes on this site to see if there is an upper limit on the keeping qualities of LBV port. There are a few outliers (1927, 1958, 1961 and 1967) but it isn't until the mid seventies that there seem to be enough notes to give a clear picture of how they drink over time. I suppose this coincides with the regular releases of this style in quantity sufficient to appear more than once in the tasting notes.

My sense from a quick skim of these notes that there really isn't any difference in the keeping qualities of LBVs compared to single quinta or vintage ports. Is this the case? Makes me wonder why I have been buying all this rather expensive vintage stuff...
In my experience, while the best can age wonderfully for 20+ years, I'd be hard pressed to say I've had any that would rival top VPs for staying power and complexity. If you're simply looking for something that can age well in the short to medium term and provide a good to great experience, top LBVs and occasionally SQVPs are the way to go. Rarely do I feel you can find lower and middle rung VPs at a more attractive price for the same uses. You can't beat the price/quality ratio of top notch LBV these days.
I can only speak from my drinking experience with older LBV's. For the vast majority of them, about 20-ish years really is the longest they should be kept. Will they drink nicely past that, yes. But what I often find with the older ones (25+ years) is they just don't have the capacity to retain my drinking interest like an older VP does. They tend to become very linear when they get really old. So I don't really see any reason to keep them for very long term.

I recall tasting some older LBV's from the mid 1980's IIRC along side some older VP's. That was eye opening as one really saw the difference in aging curves once that primary fruit was all gone in both. One sip of the VP's and I don't think anyone went back to the LBV's. They were just bland, to use the term, comparatively and highlighted why it was not worth it to cellar them for so long.

I understand it's fun to open old ones now and then, so if the intent is to age a few for later fun, then for sure. It's always educational and fun to see how they've held up over the years. But as a general rule VP blows them out of the water in the complexity and ability to retain interest department in their older years.

Re: Which LBVs are worth cellaring?

Posted: 09:17 Tue 10 May 2016
by LGTrotter
Andy Velebil wrote: I recall tasting some older LBV's from the mid 1980's IIRC along side some older VP's. That was eye opening as one really saw the difference in aging curves once that primary fruit was all gone in both. One sip of the VP's and I don't think anyone went back to the LBV's. They were just bland, to use the term, comparatively and highlighted why it was not worth it to cellar them for so long.
Looking at the tasting notes of the Warre LBVs from the eighties I notice that when tasted blind they are often guessed to be a vintage port. I do not know the circumstances of the tasting you mention but I will own to being a bit biased against LBVs. I wonder if I would have the same view if I had tasted more of them blind, particularly the unfiltered Warre from the eighties.

Having said that my (possibly biased) view is that LBVs are less complex.

Re: Which LBVs are worth cellaring?

Posted: 09:58 Tue 10 May 2016
by Andy Velebil
LGTrotter wrote:
Andy Velebil wrote: I recall tasting some older LBV's from the mid 1980's IIRC along side some older VP's. That was eye opening as one really saw the difference in aging curves once that primary fruit was all gone in both. One sip of the VP's and I don't think anyone went back to the LBV's. They were just bland, to use the term, comparatively and highlighted why it was not worth it to cellar them for so long.
Looking at the tasting notes of the Warre LBVs from the eighties I notice that when tasted blind they are often guessed to be a vintage port. I do not know the circumstances of the tasting you mention but I will own to being a bit biased against LBVs. I wonder if I would have the same view if I had tasted more of them blind, particularly the unfiltered Warre from the eighties.

Having said that my (possibly biased) view is that LBVs are less complex.
One of the easiest ways to guess an older LBV is the lack of complexity they generally possess, as you mentioned. As they age that becomes more noticeable to the trained eye (mouth). Now, I guess it's fair to say one can easily be confused by a lower ranking VP that is, in essence, equivalent in quality to an LBV or even a poorly stored or off bottle of a top VP. But if you compare most top end VP from a proper showing bottle against a good unfiltered LBV the differences really stand out as they get older.

Re: Which LBVs are worth cellaring?

Posted: 13:02 Tue 10 May 2016
by PhilW
Andy Velebil wrote:But if you compare most top end VP from a proper showing bottle against a good unfiltered LBV the differences really stand out as they get older.
This would be true comparing most top end VP from a proper showing with anything that isn't.

Re: Which LBVs are worth cellaring?

Posted: 13:05 Tue 10 May 2016
by Andy Velebil
PhilW wrote:
Andy Velebil wrote:But if you compare most top end VP from a proper showing bottle against a good unfiltered LBV the differences really stand out as they get older.
This would be true comparing most top end VP from a proper showing with anything that isn't.
Which is why LGTrotter needs to send me all his old VP's. He can keep all his old LBV's for himself :mrgreen: