My way towards my first vintage

Anything to do with Port.
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My way towards my first vintage

Post by mapmap » 07:05 Sun 29 Jan 2017

Tonight was the night. I received a few friends for dinner, and finally had the chance to try my very first port vintage. A Graham 1970. But the road towards it wasn't easy, trust me!

It all began with the purchase of a pair of Grahams 1970 when they aren't too expensive, if you can say it for a pair of bottles that are 47 years old! After receiving them and putting them into my homemade wine cellar, I came across this and we some forum to read and read and we some about port.

After asking a few questions, I was suggested two very important tips. First of all, user Djewesbury suggested to stand on my head for over 15 minutes before drinking port. Here's a proof that I did it, except the fact that I didn't stay 15 minutes upside down, but more like a minute or two!

EDIT: For an unknown reason, the picture should be upside down!
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Re: My way towards my first vintage

Post by mapmap » 07:08 Sun 29 Jan 2017

Then, user LGTROTTER asked that I wear a tall hat as well. Sadly, the hat couldn't stand on my head while being upside down. Here's a picture of me and my tallest hat:
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Re: My way towards my first vintage

Post by mapmap » 07:11 Sun 29 Jan 2017

About five hours prior to drinking my G70, I went upstairs to open it. As I removed the wax cover, I found a very sticky substance on the top of the port bottle, along with some red stains. As most people do with vintage ports, I took care to clean up my bottle.
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Re: My way towards my first vintage

Post by mapmap » 07:23 Sun 29 Jan 2017

Then, with all the pressure in had in myself in order to remove the precious cork in one piece, I gently pressed my best corkscrew on the cork... just to see it fall inside the bottle. At that very moment, I am glad that nobody saw me, as my facial expressiom must have been very explicit. I guess it was a mix of numbness, surprise, and sadness.

With the speed of a professional sommelier who gets to drink his first Cheval Blanc, I inhaled as much as I could of the precious liquor, hoping the bottle wouldn't be wasted. With anxiety, I found out that the wine was faded, like it was slowly disappearing... I sighted. Then, my mind started running very fast: what should I do? Should I let it rest for more? Should I open my second bottle? Is it normal that the cork felt Like that? WILL I DIE IF I DRINK It? Okay, I might be exaggerating, but I should get proper help from people who came across luxury bottles before. I immediately called my sommelier friend, but he didn't pick up the phone. Meanwhile, I wrote a message on The Port Forum, obviously. Then, I read as much as I could from Google, about corked or leaked port bottles, skipping the very suspicious websites.

After 15 minutes without any answer, that looked to me like it was long enough that my 2011 vintages would become too old to drink, I decided to take the guess of opening a second bottle of the same producer and the same vintage. Again, the paper seal was all covered in something that looked like sugar, but without any red marks on it. I could finally breath without fear of going to the hell's gate of port lovers.
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Re: My way towards my first vintage

Post by mapmap » 07:33 Sun 29 Jan 2017

One thing I liked about the idea of opening two bottles at the same time was the fact that I could compare two bottles that have been stored exactly the same way, but with one that leaked and the other didn't. In fact, as it was my very first experience with vintage Port, I didn't know if the leaked bottle very light smell was usual or not for a vintage Port. That's even more, when you consider the fact that it didn't breath in a decanter at that very moment.

With that being said, while opening the second bottle, I was still hoping to save a full cork as souvenir of my first vintage. As I gently and slowly put the corkscrew inside the cork, it felt like a sharp knife into butter. So smooth, that I felt very confident. Too confident, to be honest! I ended up removing only half of the cork, and I was forced to push the remaining cork part into my precious bottle of eau de vie! Nevertheless, the cork was definitely in better shape than the previous one and I was very happy about it!

This is finally the moment when i could inhale what was inside that second bottle. Instead of a light tawny, I smelled power. Power, but with a strange mix of finesse in it. The paradox is in fact still bothering me as I write this essay!
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Re: My way towards my first vintage

Post by mapmap » 07:36 Sun 29 Jan 2017

The next steps was pouring the port into the decanter, which went smoothly. No, I didn't answer about any calls while pouring it in, to avoid any more chaos into the wine. The sediments and remaining cork parts in it was enough, I didn't want to disturb it more, you can trust me!
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Re: My way towards my first vintage

Post by mapmap » 07:41 Sun 29 Jan 2017

Then, a strange thing happened to me. I started wandering around the decanter, smelling it every 5 to 10 minutes for the next few hours. I looked like a hobbit in love with his precious ring of invisibility! It was like I felt attracted by the fortified wine. Always wondering if it would smell better or stronger. And between runs at the decanter, I would still take a sniff at the leaked bottle, thinking it might improve. Which in part, it did. But it always felt like the leak bottle was a pale 10% in comparison to the good bottle.

Meanwhile, I also poured the remaining wine filled with sediments and corks into a glass. Just for the fun of seeing it, and comparing the smells and colors
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Re: My way towards my first vintage

Post by mapmap » 07:48 Sun 29 Jan 2017

Then, one by one, my friends got to my house for dinner. Without telling them what I saved somewhere in the basement, I always had a special thought about my fabulous port! After 5 hours and a half of decanting, I got upstairs with something in my hands. My friends, who knew me for a while already, all knew I had something special in my hands. I explained that the reason i invited them for dinner was to celebrate the end of my 3rd degree. And for that reason, I saved my oldest bottle. A coworker asked the fatal question: how old Is it? Along with a smile, I replied older than all of us (the oldest of us being 34).

Then, I poured a glass to everyone, while keeping an eye on my sommelier friend. He was my reference when it was time to drink a few of these:
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Re: My way towards my first vintage

Post by mapmap » 07:53 Sun 29 Jan 2017

My right eye was always spying on Billy, my sommelier friend who's usually very vocal. But he wasn't at that moment. While my nose was taking big breaths of the port, as smelling is always a very enjoyable part of drinking good alcohols for me, I was staring at Billy wondering what was going on in his mind for being so unusually quiet.

After almost 5 minutes, Billy finally asked the very big question to everyone at the table: what do you smell? My mind was going on so fast. Hmm, Caramel? Perhaps grapes..isn't it an oxymoron to say that anyway about a port wine!? Then I wondered about dark red fruits, without being able to name them.

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Re: My way towards my first vintage

Post by mapmap » 08:11 Sun 29 Jan 2017

Then, Billy shared his opinion. He said it started with grapes, then prunes, dried dates. I guess I wasn't too far from the dark fruits I couldn't name. He also added in a 3rd row caramelized orange, cacao and hints of coffee. To be honest, I never smelled the coffee!

Finally, as my anxiety finally worn off, in fear of making a mistake or having a 2nd bad bottle, we all took a first sip of it. The table became quiet again. And Billy smiled just like I did. WOW! My main reference was a 30years old tawny. I remember the tawny as Mapple syrup, but without much complexity. That was about 10 years ago. Now, I could taste many layers, one by one, with that vintage. The more I drank of it, the more I could taste the more subtle aromas, like cacao suggested by my friend.

As I write these lines, I still wonder how a wine can be as delicate and as powerful at the same time. It feels young, like it could be aged for a few decades again, yet it is already enjoyable and filled with elegance. It is curious, but the more I drink it, the more I wonder if there are any notes of raspberry and leather. It's like you can still taste the tannins, that are like mid life: not too strong, nor absent. I also get the feeling that someone who doesn't know anything about wine or port would enjoy it, yet an expert would as well! In my mind, the G70 is a Nissan GT-R car; most people wouldn't recognize the car as being one of the best in drag races, yet an expert would identify it just by the sound of it.

Therefore, my best description, in one word, for this G70 would be: PARADOXAL!

9/10, considering the fact that I can't compare it to another vintage as it was my very first vintage ever!

The road now ends in my bedroom, taking a good breath of that leaked bottle, after being open for a good 10 hours!

As we say in french: bonne nuit!
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Re: My way towards my first vintage

Post by mapmap » 08:26 Sun 29 Jan 2017

A special "merci" goes to everyone who took the time to answer my many questions, in order to help me have a wonderful experience tonight!

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Re: My way towards my first vintage

Post by jdaw1 » 11:06 Sun 29 Jan 2017

Well, merci to you too for such a delightful essay.

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Re: My way towards my first vintage

Post by PhilW » 13:23 Sun 29 Jan 2017

Very enjoyable read, thank you for posting to let us know how it all went. Glad your second bottle showed well, and that you and your guests enjoyed it.

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Re: My way towards my first vintage

Post by DaveRL » 14:43 Sun 29 Jan 2017

Thank you for writing up your experience. Very enjoyable. Hope you enjoy many more superb bottles of port.

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Re: My way towards my first vintage

Post by mapmap » 17:09 Sun 29 Jan 2017

I'm glad you SIRs liked it! I wonder if my tasting notes are alike yours! Therefore, I'm going to read a few dozen of reviews of that fabulous G70!

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Re: My way towards my first vintage

Post by Glenn E. » 06:35 Mon 30 Jan 2017

A very enjoyable read, thank you! I, too, very much like the 1970 Graham Vintage Port. It sounds like you had at least one very good bottle.
Glenn Elliott

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Re: My way towards my first vintage

Post by mapmap » 03:08 Tue 31 Jan 2017

I sincerely won't forget the bottle, you can trust me :)

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Re: My way towards my first vintage

Post by AHB » 13:42 Thu 16 Feb 2017

Did you taste the first bottle? How was it compared to the second?

(And thank you for the wonderful story.)
Top Port in 2017 (so far): Graham Stone Terraces 2015 and Quinta do Vesuvio 1994
2016 Port of the year: Cockburn 1908

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Re: My way towards my first vintage

Post by mapmap » 04:02 Sat 18 Feb 2017

Yes I did SIR. The first bottle was not disgusting at all, but sadly it was flat. It was somehow powerless, even after a 6, 12, 24 and 48 hours of breathing. It gave me the feeling that it tasted like 10 to 20% of what was the good bottle. I ended up being reimbursed, since I bought the bottle only two weeks prior to drinking it. However it was a hassle to prove that the bottle was defective... overall, I would have given the bottle a great 70pts on a 100pts scale!

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Re: My way towards my first vintage

Post by AHB » 09:30 Sat 18 Feb 2017

I'm really pleased you managed to get a refund, which is only fair. And can I assume that you immediately gave the SAQ their money back in exchange for a replacement bottle whose colour you checked with a flashlight?
Top Port in 2017 (so far): Graham Stone Terraces 2015 and Quinta do Vesuvio 1994
2016 Port of the year: Cockburn 1908

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Re: My way towards my first vintage

Post by mapmap » 11:18 Sun 19 Feb 2017

Hahaha how do you know that I bought a few more bottles?? ;) I bought 3 or 4 bottles of Dows, mainly 1994 and 2003. :)

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