Cellar defenders - Waitrose VP (or SQVP) options

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rich_n
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Cellar defenders - Waitrose VP (or SQVP) options

Post by rich_n » 16:01 Thu 04 Jul 2019

Having spoken to a few (Julian in particular) about the idea of cellar defenders, I have been having a dig around for options. Sadly my local M&S isn't carrying their 2007 own label VP, but I've seen another couple of intriguing options:

https://www.waitrosecellar.com/all-offe ... -vargellas

Obviously that's a SQVP but 90+ points on the Winesearcher average.

https://www.waitrosecellar.com/port-win ... ort-782737

Intriguing, but also at £35 a bit more pricey than the M&S offer for theirs and also probably not at its best for another 5-10 years min.

Would love to hear thoughts and other options! Ideally in that £15-30 bracket for stuff that's easy drinking but not going to break the bank. I've also got a small collection of LBVs that might be a better option if the VPs just aren't worth it.

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Re: Cellar defenders - Waitrose VP (or SQVP) options

Post by akzy » 17:25 Thu 04 Jul 2019

Also shouldn't forget the offerings from Sainsbury's (2003/7) and Tesco's vintage port (I think currently 1997???) offering which you can usually grab for £20.

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AHB
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Re: Cellar defenders - Waitrose VP (or SQVP) options

Post by AHB » 23:08 Thu 04 Jul 2019

Cellar defenders are usually quite cheap bottles, especially if bought opportunistically - for example, during a “buy 6 bottles and get 25% off” deal. £25-35 is substantially more than I would look to spend on them.

I’d recommend the good LBVs as cellar defenders. These will age well for up to 20-30 years. We’ve had LBVs from the ‘80s in the last few years which are wonderful, but which also drink really well now. I recommend the Sandeman from Waitrose at the moment.
Top Ports in 2019 (so far): Cockburn 1947 and Quinta do Noval Nacional 2017
2018 Ports of the year: São Leonardo 1927 White Port (Bottled 2018), Quinta do Noval Nacional 1994

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flash_uk
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Re: Cellar defenders - Waitrose VP (or SQVP) options

Post by flash_uk » 23:38 Thu 04 Jul 2019

AHB wrote:
23:08 Thu 04 Jul 2019
Cellar defenders are usually quite cheap bottles
I have a slightly different angle on cellar defenders Alex. I consider a cellar defender to be something that gets in the way of drinking something special and potentially difficult to replace. And so four cases of say D94, at £50 a bottle, is a lovely juice and could get in the way of many special bottles, and once the four cases are exhausted there is plenty of supply to replenish.

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Re: Cellar defenders - Waitrose VP (or SQVP) options

Post by PhilW » 12:47 Fri 05 Jul 2019

flash_uk wrote:
23:38 Thu 04 Jul 2019
AHB wrote:
23:08 Thu 04 Jul 2019
Cellar defenders are usually quite cheap bottles
I have a slightly different angle on cellar defenders Alex. I consider a cellar defender to be something that gets in the way of drinking something special and potentially difficult to replace. And so four cases of say D94, at £50 a bottle, is a lovely juice and could get in the way of many special bottles, and once the four cases are exhausted there is plenty of supply to replenish.
I don't think AHB and flash_uk are actually disagreeing, except perhaps in the expected cost of the cellar defending bottles.

In essence, cellar defenders are cheaper bottles intended to help avoid drinking more expensive or rarer bottles. With that definition, your choice of cellar defender may depend upon several factors, including what you are defending and how often you drink, as well as how much you have to spend and what you enjoy drinking (and where you set the minimum-quality threshold, if at all).
- if you are defending a collection of >50yr old port, and either have plenty of money or only open a bottle very infrequently, you might use the less-expensive and more easily available '85s as cellar defenders.
- if you are defending a collection of 20-30yr old port, and open bottles frequently, you might choose LBVs and/or ruby reserve ports as cellar defenders
- and every other combination, depending on an individual's collection, finances, consumption and preference.

Personally, as a defender against a collection of >30yr old port, I'd recommend picking up Warre traditional LBVs from Waitrose when either on offer themselves or during Waitrose's "25% off for 6 or more" offer periods. With standard price of £25, this becomes ~18-20 when in/on sale, and imo represents excellent value for money (as well as being within your £15-30 window) in particular because you could genuinely buy in quantity if wanted, knowing that if you don't drink them as quickly as expected they will continue to improve as they age, up to at least 30-35 years old.

At closer to the top of your stated price range, perhaps assuming drinking less frequently or to provide an alternative alongside the Warre traditional LBVs, I would suggest Fonseca 1996. This has been frequently available in the past at anywhere in the £20-30 range for individual bottles (often each in a box with a funnel) from random wine merchants. Currently these can still be had for <£30 each, and for best value I would buy 6 online and have them delivered (typically free for an order of 6 bottles over £150 total).

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Re: Cellar defenders - Waitrose VP (or SQVP) options

Post by Andy Velebil » 20:27 Fri 05 Jul 2019

Here's my take on CD'ers. I break them down into a couple of categories;

Inexpensive deals for everyday drinking without thinking. These are under $20/bottle and are usually LBV's, Ruby Reserves, younger Tawny's and the like.

More mature VP, not for everyday drinking but not for special occasions. Or when I just want a VP without opening a old rare one. These are typically off-vintage VP's or VP's from "lesser" producers that I find for good prices. Typically around the $25-40/bottle range. I try to find ones with a little more bottle age already.

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Re: Cellar defenders - Waitrose VP (or SQVP) options

Post by Glenn E. » 18:59 Sat 06 Jul 2019

In some sense, I use 40yo Tawny Port as a cellar defender because my cellar contains so much very old Tawny Port. When your "next" option is something from the 1960s, 1950s, or 1940s, a mere 40yo starts to look like a frugal choice.

On the ruby side, it's by value for me. I have some very inexpensive 1970s that are not great bottles, but are fun to drink because they're ~50 years old. But the "front line" cellar defenders at the moment are 2011 Crasto LBVs, which we've now had blind at 4 different Sammamish Port Club meetings and it has always shown extremely well. In fact, it was WOTN at the last meeting over 1997 and 2000 Dows, 1983 Graham, and 2011 Crasto VPs.
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Re: Cellar defenders - Waitrose VP (or SQVP) options

Post by rich_n » 10:56 Sun 07 Jul 2019

This is all very helpful, thanks! I wonder if it's worth having a "cellar defenders" thread on here for non-VP bargains that have cropped up in supermarkets or online? Thoughts?

I agree that it's about getting a range of options, I'm a fan of LBVs for a low budget bottle that I can crack open when I fancy a glass or two and don't want to get into the expensive stuff. I guess it's the in-between range where I want something a bit more special but don't want to "accidentally" open one of my 2011s way before they are ready. I'm taking a look at some of the own label options and that Dows 1994 is certainly intriguing as an option to drink now! Any suggestion on where I should be looking to acquire that? I can't find anywhere that's doing it for £50 a bottle!

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Re: Cellar defenders - Waitrose VP (or SQVP) options

Post by rich_n » 10:58 Sun 07 Jul 2019

Glenn E. wrote:
18:59 Sat 06 Jul 2019
In some sense, I use 40yo Tawny Port as a cellar defender because my cellar contains so much very old Tawny Port. When your "next" option is something from the 1960s, 1950s, or 1940s, a mere 40yo starts to look like a frugal choice.

On the ruby side, it's by value for me. I have some very inexpensive 1970s that are not great bottles, but are fun to drink because they're ~50 years old. But the "front line" cellar defenders at the moment are 2011 Crasto LBVs, which we've now had blind at 4 different Sammamish Port Club meetings and it has always shown extremely well. In fact, it was WOTN at the last meeting over 1997 and 2000 Dows, 1983 Graham, and 2011 Crasto VPs.
The Crasto LBV sounds like an excellent option but I can't find anywhere that I could get it here in the UK...

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Re: Cellar defenders - Waitrose VP (or SQVP) options

Post by Will W. » 21:03 Sun 07 Jul 2019

A very interesting thread.

For unplanned (so to speak) port drinking, I opt for colheitas or tawnies, given that I do not enjoy LBVs nor younger, inexpensive VPs which have not benefited from several hours in a decanter. I keep plenty of 40 year olds for this purpose (noting Glenn's comment), though of course anything decent in this category is hardly inexpensive. The best solution, for me, has turned out to be keeping a stock of decent 20 year olds to hand (e.g., Ferreira and, in particular, DR), though these run at about EUR 40/bottle. Therefore, if I am feeling particularly parsimonious, I opt for colheitas purchased privately from small quintas - generally for around EUR 15/bottle purchased a dozen at a time - usually dating from the 1970s and 1980s. These colheitas invariably constitute, in my experience, excellent value for money, additional to the interest generated in my own mind of having the chance to quaff something unusual or, at any rate, something unique. Such ports might be identified by those resident outside of Portugal by a couple of means, though getting farmers to package a case for shipment to, say, the UK, might prove the bigger challenge, given language issues as well as the fact that many of the said farmers would appear to consider even other parts of Portugal to be foreign territory.

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Re: Cellar defenders - Waitrose VP (or SQVP) options

Post by AHB » 22:18 Wed 10 Jul 2019

My go to cellar defender, whether one to open myself or one to recommend others to buy, is the Sandeman LBV. This is readily available at around £15 per bottle, less if on sale, and drinks reasonably well now but will be much better in 20 years.

But I also love Will's approach. Privately purchased 1970-1908s colheitas bought direct at €15 just can't be beaten. Great call.
Top Ports in 2019 (so far): Cockburn 1947 and Quinta do Noval Nacional 2017
2018 Ports of the year: São Leonardo 1927 White Port (Bottled 2018), Quinta do Noval Nacional 1994

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Re: Cellar defenders - Waitrose VP (or SQVP) options

Post by rich_n » 14:31 Fri 12 Jul 2019

More great stuff thanks! I really appreciate specific opportunities for purchases so the Sandeman LBV is a good call, I'll keep an eye out for that. Where would I even start with the 1970/80s Colheitas? Is this an auction play or direct from the producers? I have no idea how to go about that, so far most of my purchasing has been online or in supermarkets/wine retailers.

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Re: Cellar defenders - Waitrose VP (or SQVP) options

Post by Will W. » 20:58 Fri 12 Jul 2019

rich_n wrote:
14:31 Fri 12 Jul 2019
Where would I even start with the 1970/80s Colheitas? Is this an auction play or direct from the producers? I have no idea how to go about that, so far most of my purchasing has been online or in supermarkets/wine retailers.
Over the last two years, I have sourced a few dozen bottles as follows:

1. Driving around the Douro, looking for crappy signs on farm gates advertising 'vinho' for sale. Usually it is still wine they mean to peddle in, say, five litre plastic jugs, though a couple of the fellows had some port. I would do more of this, were my Portuguese not so rubbish.

2. Generally asking around when I am in the Douro, as I have started to make local friends with farms or persons whom otherwise have an interest in port - and drinking it on a budget. This approach offers good variety though limited quantities, because one is given a bottle or two in circumstances in which it would appear (at least to me) to be churlish to inquire about making a purchase.

3. Browsing the main Portuguese online website, CustoJusto, on which farmers will occasionally peddle their wares. The difficulty there is getting the farmers to bottle, box and post the stuff - they seem to envision delivering it locally - though my personal assistant is Portuguese and facilitates shipment for me. There were a dozen bottles in my office when I got back today, held in an impressive array of still-wine and port bottles, which no doubt the farmer had lying about (and hopefully rinsed properly). One does not have an opportunity to sample such wines, quite obviously, though the prices are so low that it does not much matter - and do date I have not received anything unpleasant.

4. Occasionally at minor Portuguese auctions, several-bottle lots of garrafeiras particulares will appear; these invariably go for a song as Portuguese bidders tend to focus upon paying above-retail (at auction!) for known producers. As above at point 3, that is, one does not know what one is getting, though nothing objectionable has arrived to date.

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Re: Cellar defenders - Waitrose VP (or SQVP) options

Post by uncle tom » 15:53 Mon 15 Jul 2019

A very good value cellar defender at the moment is Dow's Midnight @ £5.50/500mL from ASDA. This is a clean fresh fruity quaff - above par for its class.
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Re: Cellar defenders - Waitrose VP (or SQVP) options

Post by akzy » 16:37 Mon 15 Jul 2019

uncle tom wrote:
15:53 Mon 15 Jul 2019
A very good value cellar defender at the moment is Dow's Midnight @ £5.50/500mL from ASDA. This is a clean fresh fruity quaff - above par for its class.
I robbed my local ASDA dry.

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Re: Cellar defenders - Waitrose VP (or SQVP) options

Post by AHB » 06:57 Thu 18 Jul 2019

Last night I opened a bottle of Terra Prima I’ve owned for about 4 years. It’s really benefitted from the time in bottle and is smoother and more rounded than previous bottles which I’ve bought and opened. It’s not bad and would make an excellent and inexpensive cellar defender.
Top Ports in 2019 (so far): Cockburn 1947 and Quinta do Noval Nacional 2017
2018 Ports of the year: São Leonardo 1927 White Port (Bottled 2018), Quinta do Noval Nacional 1994

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