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21st birthday port — 2018 and 2019

Posted: 23:59 Sun 04 Apr 2021
by John Owlett
Hello again everyone,

Two of my children have given rise to third generation small people—Stanley Senez, born in November 2018, and Oscar Owlett, born in December 2019. There is no way I am laying down a whole pipe of port for each of them—indeed, I believe that Portugal no longer permits port to be exported in casks—but in the usual course of events (as I did for their cousins) I would buy two cases of port. One would be a case of a port (Dow or Vesúvio) which has a reasonable chance of being ready by their 21st birthdays, and the other a case of slower maturing port (Taylor Quinta de Vargellas Vinha Velha or Graham Stone Terraces) for them to have to drink some ten years later.

In the case of their older cousins—born in 2000, 2004, and 2015—this wasn’t too difficult.

2018 port for Stanley is harder. Neither QVVV nor Stone Terraces is available, so I think I shall have to ask him to be content with two cases of Taylor, when it is released later this month. Unless you guys can suggest something else?

2019 port seems to be harder still. I understand that Niepoort will declare this year, but I have put a lot of effort into determining that my taste preference runs to Fonseca, Taylor, Graham, and Dow ... in that order. I have had superb bottles from other houses, particularly Vesúvio, but those are the ones I have come to trust as being reliable. Reliability is important because, when Oscar comes to open one of his bottles in thirty years’ time, I shall be a centenarian and Oscar won’t want to bring the bottle back to Grandad to complain.

Can anyone recommend ports I can buy for Oscar’s 21st birthday? Or, if the 2019 vintage has been as difficult as it seemed, an alternative to port? (Ouch!)

John

Re: 21st birthday port — 2018 and 2019

Posted: 09:38 Mon 05 Apr 2021
by jdaw1
So they get two dozen of Port, and the junior dozen is Dow or Vesuvio. This will not be a life of hardship.

For my judgement, Dow (or the other fine names mentioned) can mature slowly for most of forty years. Hence, rather than seeking impossible quantities of the unavailable, you buy larger quantities of the ‘merely’ excellent?

Re: 21st birthday port — 2018 and 2019

Posted: 15:00 Mon 05 Apr 2021
by hadge
I have done something similar for a godson, I have bought him a case and half of bottles and case of 3 mags of Taylor's 18, with the mags for later in life.

Re: 21st birthday port — 2018 and 2019

Posted: 16:53 Mon 05 Apr 2021
by JacobH
I think you are struggling for 2019s because we are still very early in the year for declarations. The Fladgate Parnership Houses (e.g. Taylor, Fonseca & Croft) make any declarations on St George’s Day (23rd April) & most other shippers put out their releases soon afterwards. I’d give it another month to see what’s available. The Niepoort 2019 has had some really good reviews so I get the impression there will be some good Ports about, although a general declaration is unlikely. That might mean you are in luck & one of the super-premium VPs gets declared.

Re: 21st birthday port — 2018 and 2019

Posted: 18:03 Mon 05 Apr 2021
by Doggett
hadge wrote:
15:00 Mon 05 Apr 2021
I have done something similar for a godson, I have bought him a case and half of bottles and case of 3 mags of Taylor's 18, with the mags for later in life.
I have decided that my godfather is not up to scratch and that I want Harry to adopt me as a godchild regardless of the oddities of the age situation. Happy to have a little ceremony to celebrate and I promise not to open the aforementioned port you give to godchildren until it has reached maturity in 2039+ Thanks Harry... I shall now look forward to you looking out for my spiritual well-being too 😀

Re: 21st birthday port — 2018 and 2019

Posted: 19:46 Mon 05 Apr 2021
by jdaw1
Splendid reply from Simon.

I am available for full adoption.

Re: 21st birthday port — 2018 and 2019

Posted: 13:05 Tue 06 Apr 2021
by John Owlett
hadge wrote:
15:00 Mon 05 Apr 2021
I have done something similar for a godson, I have bought him a case and half of bottles and case of 3 mags of Taylor's 18, with the mags for later in life.
Thank you for that: I hadn’t thought of that ... but I followed it up first thing this morning by speaking to my account manager at Berrys’ and placing an identical order.

Partly out of fidelity to tradition, partly out of a personal affection for port, I decided to give each grandchild two cases (4 gallons) of port for his or her 21st birthday ... together with a recommendation to drink just one bottle a year, at some suitable celebratory event. And it’s difficult to find a single port that is both ready for drinking at age 21, and still going strong at age 44.

My personal experience (with which you may not agree—many of you have far more experience of drinking port) is that a declared vintage from one of the majors will be (almost) ready at 21, and will still be developing in its 30s. The newer super-cuvées (I have experience of QVVV and Stone Terraces), which really ought to last well into their 40s, are not ready at age 21. Hence one case of each.

But you’re quite right. In the ordinary course of events, a magnum will mature more slowly than a bottle. So buying 18 bottles to last Stanley into his late 30s, and 3 magnums to make sure he has good wine for his 40th birthday, is a brilliant solution.

Thank you.

Oh, and by the way, I can lend you a copy of the Book of Common Prayer if you need one for when you call on Simon to teach him the Apostles’ Creed and the General Thanksgiving.

Later,

John

Re: 21st birthday port — 2018 and 2019

Posted: 18:00 Wed 07 Apr 2021
by Alex Bridgeman
Hello John,

I echo Jacob’s advice on your selection of Porta from 2019 — be patient for a month or two more and you may well have a wider choice.

I also beg to offer a different view from your experience of a major Port house’s effort being unable to be ready at age 21 and still developing in its 30s and 40s. I was fortunate enough to be born in 1963 and received a case of Taylor’s from that vintage on my 21st birthday.

It was delicious that day and continued to be for many years. I served it (with other Ports from the same vintage) at a celebration of my fiftieth birthday and it was still delicious. Perhaps it didn’t improve between its fortieth and fiftieth anniversaries, but to my taste it developed and mellowed a little more to liking.

Re: 21st birthday port — 2018 and 2019

Posted: 07:38 Thu 15 Apr 2021
by PhilW
Hi John - you may have already seen, but replying so you get notification in case, that Symington Family Estates have announced their 2019 ports (here), including Vesuvio, two Dow Single Quintas and Graham Malvedos. As Jacob mentioned, The Fladgate Partnership usually make their announcement on St. George's day so in just over a week you should know where you stand with your Fonseca and Taylor preferences.

I would make one observation: you preferences are all quality ports, and your son may or may not have the same taste preferences as you, so I would not have any concerns with any of your choices. I would also perhaps select the Vesuvio as the choice for the 21st, for the extra elegance of the cases for the initial gift, with the uber-cuvee or top choice for the 31st; neither should have any trouble reaching such dates.