Identifying mystery port

Anything to do with Port.
mattmoy_2000
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Identifying mystery port

Post by mattmoy_2000 » 23:21 Sun 16 Nov 2014

Hallo all,
Please can you help me with some details of an old bottle of port.
I've just acquired a bottle from a junk shop, along with a bottle of Marquis de Terme from 1953, for which I paid the grand total of £5 each. The claret was in fine condition when I drank it last night, and I expect the port will be too, but the problem is that the label is completely missing. They were both from a house clearance of an old doctor, who seemed to have stored his wines in a crate somewhere with a lot of spiders and leaves - the bottles were in the junk shop still in the original generic crate with the original cobwebs, along with a dozen or so other bottles of spirits and wine. The port appears to have some kind of fibre attached to the bottle - maybe from a wicker case at some point. The glass is dark green (so it's not Fonseca) and machine made as it has a seam down the side. There is a punt on the bottom with a smooth rim and no pontil.

There is a partial, later label which is typewriter written - the only words I can make out are:
___NT___ PORT
d _nd Re__rked
there's also "P1" and "UUM" on other scraps of the label.

I assume that the first two read "[VI]NT[AGE] PORT" and "[Taste]d [a]nd Re[co]rked"
The cork was covered with a hard, chipped black wax, which I removed most of to see if the cork was branded (it is stuck to the top, and the sides of the cork aren't branded that I can see). There's no noticeable seepage and the fill level is high (still in the neck), although if it was recorked, it may have been topped up.

I would guess from the provenance, especially given the other bottles that were in the case with it, that this is a very old bottle of port.

Does anybody have any ideas as to how I could identify the contents of the bottle more than that it is old VP? I'm happy to answer any questions about the bottle etc., so please ask away if you think you can help! I will post pictures imminently...

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jdaw1
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Re: Identifying mystery port

Post by jdaw1 » 23:33 Sun 16 Nov 2014

Bring it to one of our tastings; it will be opened with Port tongs; and tasted by the finest palates we have.

OK, that didn’t help. The seam on the bottle is interesting. Pictures please. And typewriter could be inter-war.

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djewesbury
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Re: Identifying mystery port

Post by djewesbury » 00:09 Mon 17 Nov 2014

I think 'tasted' is only minimally
likely; could it not be 'rewaxed'?
Some here have expertise on such things as bottle shape and age. Pictures definitely a good idea.


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RAYC
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Re: Identifying mystery port

Post by RAYC » 04:07 Mon 17 Nov 2014

mattmoy_2000 wrote:The glass is dark green (so it's not Fonseca)
Not wholly on topic, but I'm curious about what leads you to make this statement....off the top of my head, I have some BBR-bottled Fonseca 1970 in dark green bottles
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Re: Identifying mystery port

Post by PhilW » 09:39 Mon 17 Nov 2014

mattmoy_2000 wrote:There is a partial, later label which is typewriter written - the only words I can make out are:
___NT___ PORT
d _nd Re__rked
there's also "P1" and "UUM" on other scraps of the label.

I assume that the first two read "[VI]NT[AGE] PORT" and "[Taste]d [a]nd Re[co]rked"
I would think it more likely that the text might have been "Decanted and Recorked" (which I am less concerned about that I used to be, having recently had a 1917 port which was decanted and recorked in the 60s/70s {I think it was] and it was fabulous).

Hopefully you have a gem, for a bargain price. Will be interested to see the pictures.
Last edited by PhilW on 09:44 Mon 17 Nov 2014, edited 1 time in total.

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AHB
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Re: Identifying mystery port

Post by AHB » 09:39 Mon 17 Nov 2014

I don't think you will ever be able to identify with certainty what you have bought. If, as seems likely, the bottle has been recorked it is almost certain to have been recorked with an unbranded cork. With the absence of a cork and of a legible label the certain identification of the contents is probably lost.

However, assuming that the bottle is the original bottle and that it was in the same box as a du Terme 1953, we can probably narrow it down a little. Can you describe the bottle more? The seam you mention, does it run from the top of the next, over the shoulder and all the way down the cylinder to where it meets the base? What shape is the neck? Describe the punt - is it deep or shallow? Is there any decoration or serration around the edge of the base? Are there any codes moulded in to the base? Is there anything moulded into the bottle? If there is, what and where?
mattmoy_2000 wrote:Hallo all,
Please can you help me with some details of an old bottle of port.
I've just acquired a bottle from a junk shop, along with a bottle of Marquis de Terme from 1953, for which I paid the grand total of £5 each. The claret was in fine condition when I drank it last night, and I expect the port will be too, but the problem is that the label is completely missing. They were both from a house clearance of an old doctor, who seemed to have stored his wines in a crate somewhere with a lot of spiders and leaves - the bottles were in the junk shop still in the original generic crate with the original cobwebs, along with a dozen or so other bottles of spirits and wine. The port appears to have some kind of fibre attached to the bottle - maybe from a wicker case at some point. The glass is dark green (so it's not Fonseca) and machine made as it has a seam down the side. There is a punt on the bottom with a smooth rim and no pontil.

There is a partial, later label which is typewriter written - the only words I can make out are:
___NT___ PORT
d _nd Re__rked
there's also "P1" and "UUM" on other scraps of the label.

I assume that the first two read "[VI]NT[AGE] PORT" and "[Taste]d [a]nd Re[co]rked"
The cork was covered with a hard, chipped black wax, which I removed most of to see if the cork was branded (it is stuck to the top, and the sides of the cork aren't branded that I can see). There's no noticeable seepage and the fill level is high (still in the neck), although if it was recorked, it may have been topped up.

I would guess from the provenance, especially given the other bottles that were in the case with it, that this is a very old bottle of port.

Does anybody have any ideas as to how I could identify the contents of the bottle more than that it is old VP? I'm happy to answer any questions about the bottle etc., so please ask away if you think you can help! I will post pictures imminently...
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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RAYC
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Re: Identifying mystery port

Post by RAYC » 10:38 Mon 17 Nov 2014

I have also come across "relabelled and recorked"
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Re: Identifying mystery port

Post by Andy Velebil » 14:53 Mon 17 Nov 2014

Pictures may be much more helpful than trying to describe it.

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Re: Identifying mystery port

Post by mattmoy_2000 » 23:57 Mon 17 Nov 2014

Wow! This is a much bigger response than I expected. It's a bit late at night now, but I shall post some pictures tomorrow evening.
As to the Fonseca comment - I always saw it in quite bright green bottles a bit like the one at this link:
http://www.hallarn.com/vpid/images/bottles/IMG_1332.JPG
The glass in my bottle is slightly browner than that (but still green). The top of it looks a lot like this:
http://www.hallarn.com/vpid/images/bottles/IMG_1824.JPG
Anyway, bedtime now, but I'll post some pictures tomorrow. Thank you all for your interest!
Matthew

mattmoy_2000
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Re: Identifying mystery port

Post by mattmoy_2000 » 21:49 Thu 20 Nov 2014

Hallo Ladies and Gentlemen,
I have finally got round to uploading the pictures, after a couple of impromptu nights out that I hadn't bargained for!#
The pictures are on my flickr account at this link:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/msmoyniha ... 971895399/
As to the questions you've all asked...
Can you describe the bottle more? The seam you mention, does it run from the top of the next, over the shoulder and all the way down the cylinder to where it meets the base? What shape is the neck? Describe the punt - is it deep or shallow? Is there any decoration or serration around the edge of the base? Are there any codes moulded in to the base? Is there anything moulded into the bottle? If there is, what and where?
The seam is exactly as you described, but doesn't run into the very top of the neck (i.e. it's a 3-piece bottle, two sides and a top).
The neck is slightly bowed out with its fattest point about 2/3 of the way down.
The punt has no serration at all and is about an inch deep (to the first joint on my thumb when I have my thumb parallel to the sides of the bottle. The "innermost" part of the punt is smooth with no pontil (dimple).
There are no codes or other markings moulded into the bottle at all.
The wax on the cork is black, but that's probably not original.
Bring it to one of our tastings; it will be opened with Port tongs; and tasted by the finest palates we have.
I'm not averse to this idea, although I doubt that you have many tastings in the North East of England!

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flash_uk
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Re: Identifying mystery port

Post by flash_uk » 22:31 Thu 20 Nov 2014

mattmoy_2000 wrote:...tastings in the North East of England!
TPF on tour....could be a neat idea! The North East...would that be the Toon? Or thereabouts?

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flash_uk
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Re: Identifying mystery port

Post by flash_uk » 22:46 Thu 20 Nov 2014

Back on topic, I have a Taylor 70 in the wine fridge that looks quite like your bottle. But that doesn't help much does it. I can't see anything from the pictures that would make it likely the shipper and year can be narrowed down. Your best hope is a cork with some useful info I suspect. Oh, that would mean opening it 88)

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Re: Identifying mystery port

Post by LGTrotter » 23:11 Thu 20 Nov 2014

To add nothing to the debate;
It looks like a bottle of port.

In addition I might speculate that the straw stuff is presumably what it was binned in (ie what was strewn about it to stop it breaking), it may have been in a case with this straw but I would suggest that as it has been recorked and tasted that it is probably from a larger stash at a private house which would be bothered with the palaver of recorking and tasting to check if the bottle was flawed in some way. There are several people on this forum who seem to specialise in the development of the port bottle over the years, I am not one of them. It looks pre 1970, if it is a 'three part moulded' bottle as your description suggests it may be pre 1920. Personally from a look at the photos I would say that it is probably from the fifties or sixties.

My opening thought I am sure of, the rest of this much less so, and I wait to stand corrected.

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Re: Identifying mystery port

Post by Glenn E. » 23:22 Thu 20 Nov 2014

flash_uk wrote:Your best hope is a cork with some useful info I suspect. Oh, that would mean opening it 88)
Possibly a very, very strong torch? I have some friends who have multi-watt LED flashlights that are significantly brighter than car headlights... they'll penetrate just about any glass that isn't specifically intended to be fully opaque.
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Re: Identifying mystery port

Post by Andy Velebil » 15:28 Fri 21 Nov 2014

Thanks for the pics. I hoped it would shed a little bit of light as to what it may be. But other than looking like any bottle of Port from a rather large time frame, the only way to possibly know what is inside is to use Port Tongs and break the neck off then carefully smash the glass away to see if the cork is branded (if the flashlight idea doesn't work). The positive side is you may enjoy a very good Port in the process.

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Re: Identifying mystery port

Post by mattmoy_2000 » 19:48 Fri 21 Nov 2014

Unfortunately I can see the cork through the glass (after removing the wax to have a look) and it's unbranded. I thought perhaps the top of the cork might reveal something, but the wax is kinda integral to it and removing it would just peel off the top layer of cork, removing any branding anyway.
I will pop back to the shop tomorrow and have a look at the other bottle - hopefully its remnants of label will reveal something more than mine did...
Thank you all for your help. As it comes from the same provenance as the '53 Margaux, I assume that it is of a similar age, although the shopkeeper did mention something about an Yquem "from the 30s" worth £4000 being in the box, so it is probably from the time frame of the 30s to the 50s. An annee victoire would be great, as it's something I've always wanted to try, but alas, we shall probably never know.

As to my location, yes it's Newcastle-upon-Tyne, so if any of you want to test your educated palates on the mystery port, let me know and I'll see if we can organise something. :)

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Re: Identifying mystery port

Post by djewesbury » 19:59 Fri 21 Nov 2014

[Cue desperate search for junk shops in the Tyneside area.…]
So, there were two mystery bottles in the junk shop, and you bought only one?
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Re: Identifying mystery port

Post by Andy Velebil » 20:00 Fri 21 Nov 2014

It may be older, but selling it without knowing what it is means you won't get a lot of money for it. You'd be better off just opening it and enjoying it friends (having a back up bottle in case it doesn't show well).

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Re: Identifying mystery port

Post by mattmoy_2000 » 10:50 Sat 22 Nov 2014

djewesbury wrote:[Cue desperate search for junk shops in the Tyneside area.…]
So, there were two mystery bottles in the junk shop, and you bought only one?
Yeah, when I bought it I didn't know that the bottle contained port (just a suspicion from the shape of the bottle). I'm definitely going to open it and share it with friends - hopefully it is an enjoyable experience, it's just a shame to drink something that might be spectactular and have no idea what it is! Maybe it's an elusive bottle of Noval Nacional '31... I can but dream.

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Re: Identifying mystery port

Post by mattmoy_2000 » 18:24 Sat 22 Nov 2014

UPDATE:
I've bought the two other bottles of port that the shop had, along with a bottle of wine (the only identifying feature is the "foil", which is red plastic and says "The Wine Society" on it) and a bottle of what I assume is whisky or rum made by "James Bell of Leith".

One of the additional bottles is identical to the one I had, but with less remaining label (coincidentally it has the letters "RT" still visible, like its sister) and the third is different: the punt is flat and has a ~1cm circle in the middle with a K in it, with a line coming out of the middle at right angles to the upright across the circle, looking a bit like a dragonfly with the tips of the wings and tail all touching the circle. Above this is a "W" and below it a "2".
It seems to have had a similar label to the twins at some point. All three bottles have the strawlike binning material attached to them and the same black wax on the cork, which leads me to believe that all three were recorked and rewaxed at the same time, sometime in the fifties, and then a new typewritten label attached to all of them.

Ultimately, the only identifiable feature on any of the port bottles is the moulding on the bottom of bottle 3. I have tried to date the bottle using the "bottle dating" tool on sha.org, but all I can tell is that it's probably C20th (all three) which isn't entirely surprising.

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Re: Identifying mystery port

Post by djewesbury » 18:44 Sat 22 Nov 2014

We really need to get to Newcastle.
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Re: Identifying mystery port

Post by DRT » 18:45 Sat 22 Nov 2014

mattmoy_2000 wrote:I have tried to date the bottle using the "bottle dating" tool on sha.org
Thank you for sharing that link. I have added it to the Reference section of the forum.
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Re: Identifying mystery port

Post by DRT » 18:46 Sat 22 Nov 2014

djewesbury wrote:We really need to get to Newcastle.
Why eye, Pet :wink:
"The first duty of Port is to be red"
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Re: Identifying mystery port

Post by djewesbury » 18:47 Sat 22 Nov 2014

Except you Derek.
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Re: Identifying mystery port

Post by PhilW » 23:18 Sat 22 Nov 2014

DRT wrote:Why eye, Pet :wink:
Surely that should be "aye"? (aye, why aye, och aye)

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