Dow's 1977

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ECMaster
Cruz Ruby
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Joined: 19:11 Thu 18 Jul 2019

Dow's 1977

Post by ECMaster » 19:13 Thu 10 Oct 2019

I am writing to hear your views on the '77 Dow's as I heard pretty much mixed reviews on this, mainly due to supposed cork issues. I had the chance to try one of these gems a couple of years ago and yes, I could perceive a very strong cork problem but after 24-36 hours of aeration that was settled and the Port was just great, actually one of the best I ever tried with great potential ahead. Any views from the Community? Do you think this is a worth seeking bottle, in QPR terms ? Any hints on availability/price range at the moment? Many thanks :-)

Andy Velebil
Dow 1980
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Re: Dow's 1977

Post by Andy Velebil » 22:31 Thu 10 Oct 2019

'77 Dow's does have a high TCA rate from the corks. As to buying it, that's a personal decision based on the risks you're willing to accept. FWIW, I don't buy much from that vintage anymore as it's not only Dow's that has issues with TCA, or bottle variation, from the poor quality corks. A real shame as the Ports themselves are fantastic, if you get one with a good cork that is.

PhilW
Dow 1980
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Re: Dow's 1977

Post by PhilW » 09:03 Fri 11 Oct 2019

It is a real issue. I don't know of anyone assessing and publishing accurate figures for the rates of incidence, but my overall impression is that roughly a third of bottles of D77 are significantly affected by TCA.

When not affected, I love Dow '77 - for me it ranks just behind Niepoort and Fonseca as the third best of the vintage - but I admit to rarely buying it because of the high failure incidence, and it's unclear whether there is any clustering by case or not. Bottles of D77 do tend to be slightly cheaper due to the risk, so the risk is somewhat built in to the QPR, and the decision whether to purchase perhaps depends more on quantity; if you buy several cases, you'll probably have some bad bottles but lots of good ones and the loss is accounted for in the price; if you only buy a few bottles however, there is a potentially significant risk of all your bottles being affected.

PhilW
Dow 1980
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Re: Dow's 1977

Post by PhilW » 09:49 Fri 11 Oct 2019

I've just looked back at my records, which show the following for D77:

Dow '77:
  25% rated excellent
  25% rated very good
  40% faulty, TCA
  10% faulty, other

So, all non-faulty bottles are highly rated, but a high incidence of TCA.

Some have previously queried whether '77 has the TCA problem as a vintage, rather than just being the Dow affected (which seems reasonable, as you would assumed that other Symington brands might have been affected from bulk cork purchase, for example). However, my personal records don't seem to support that conclusion. Further statistics from my records for '77 excluding Dow:

All '77 except Dow:
- 80% rated normally (good to excellent)
- 10% faulty, TCA (these across many shippers, no stand-outs)
- 10% faulty, other

Compared to other vintages:

TCA incidence experienced by vintage(s):
- all '83/'85     : 8%
- D77             : 40%
- all other '77s  : 10%
- all '70         : none (!)
- all '60/'63/'66 : 2%

From this I draw three conclusions:
(1) That D77 is significantly affected by TCA, with an apparent incidence rate of 30-50% (would need larger sample to be accurate here).
(2) That no other shipper appears to have been specifically affected in the same way as Dow in the '77 vintage.
(3) That the incidence of TCA from '77 onwards currently seems to be much higher than for '70 or older.

Regarding (3), I make no assertion regarding the apparent cause of a higher general incidence of TCA from '77 onward; there are a number of potential reasons, not just due to the corks used, but also potentially due to factors such as longevity of TCA (another topic for debate).

Others in TPF have larger volumes of records, so might be able to provide more accurate statistics, perhaps including whether there is clustering of TCA by case (i.e. if one bottle in a case is affected, are others in the same case also typically faulty; if so, how many).

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SushiNorth
Martinez 1985
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Re: Dow's 1977

Post by SushiNorth » 15:52 Fri 11 Oct 2019

As a precaution, i would advise fwd'ing to me all D77, or if the concern is great all '77s, as I'm rather insensitive to TCA. This will ensure that your wine is properly cared for and enjoyed thereby fulfilling its raison d'etre. This is a free, charitable service -- let no Port go unappreciated. :)
SushiNorth
Image Port wine should perhaps be added -- A Trollope

ECMaster
Cruz Ruby
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Joined: 19:11 Thu 18 Jul 2019

Re: Dow's 1977

Post by ECMaster » 12:19 Sun 13 Oct 2019

Thank you all for your inputs, really appreciated the stats from Phil :-) Indeed as SushiNorth hinted at, it seems that pretty much depends on personal sensitivity to TCA...the bottle I tried was pretty undrinkable in the first hours but then had an impressive turn around in terms of TCA. If I remember correctly I poured it in a very thin-neck decanter (similar to a bottle) and let it rest 24 hours in the fridge with a loose glass stopper. Not sure how the average port enthusiast would have rated it but in my view that was an excellent one so, yes, I would definitely try my luck with a case should I get a good price...this of course raises the question of what you would consider a fair price for Dow's 77. Maybe the average price levels of the big Houses from the mid-late 80's?

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