Fonseca 1985 VP

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PhilW
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Fonseca 1985 VP

Post by PhilW » 10:16 Mon 17 Nov 2014

In discussion with David Guimaraens at the recent Croft vertical in Leverkusen, he made an interesting comment regarding Fonseca 1985 along the lines that in another decade or so he believes Fonseca 1985 will become as good as Fonseca '70 is currently. This is particularly interesting to me since Fonseca '70 is probably my favourite port (excluding rarer <=55s), and because to date my experience with Fonseca '85 has not lived up to expectations based on other's reports.

I only have a couple of bottles of Fonseca '85, from auction mixed cases; it has been on my "potential buy" list for some time (to pick up some in-bond or good provenance F85 for the future) but at relatively low priority. On deciding what to open last night, I remembered David's recent comments and decanted one of the F85s, and for the first time tasted what the fuss is about; a fabulous port, a little young for an '85 but with the classic Fonseca character, and delicious. Interestingly (to me at least) it was this good at D+0 and for the next hour or so; At D+4 it seemed slightly less good - but maybe that was me. Will be interesting to see how it performs at D+24 tonight; I have high hopes.

When I first joined this forum, I was looking for a replacement for W77 as my "house" port; this forum has led to friendship and fabulous experiences, and I have discovered several ports which became the effective replacements (all very enjoyable and reliable at good value); If the bottle last night is representative, and if David Guimaraens is right about the future aging of this port, then just perhaps this could one day be the F70 'replacement'.

Have other people found F85 to be generally showing much better recently? Does it seem to others that it has just gone over an aging cliff (in a good way) into maturity, or is this just an 'early' bottle? What level of consistency have people noted between multiple bottles of F85 over the last year or two?

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djewesbury
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Re: Fonseca 1985 VP

Post by djewesbury » 10:37 Mon 17 Nov 2014

I don't drink it very often, maybe a few times a year, but as I have said elsewhere and as Mike has also amply demonstrated, I've found this consistently good. Some of the bottles I've had until recently have been sourced in Ireland and admittedly have been rather developed. I've not had the experience of others here, of finding it still too closed. But then I tend to favour the long decant (again, cf. Mike) and not dive in too early.


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Re: Fonseca 1985 VP

Post by jdaw1 » 11:25 Mon 17 Nov 2014

F85 was much discussed in The Taylor 1985 Debate.

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flash_uk
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Re: Fonseca 1985 VP

Post by flash_uk » 11:47 Mon 17 Nov 2014

Having only started to drink port in earnest in the last 12 months, I don't have so many reference points, but most of the F85 I have tasted I have found superb. Reading various tasting notes and other opinions, F85 seems to be hesitantly stumbling out of a sleepy phase. I do hope it reaches the heights of F70..the trouble is it tastes great now, so I hope they produced plenty of bottles to keep us all supplied!

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Re: Fonseca 1985 VP

Post by RAYC » 12:28 Mon 17 Nov 2014

I think i've had between 10 and 20 bottles of Fonseca 85 from various sources (both original UK release and the recent ex-cellars release) and it has always left me slightly disappointed (given its reputation).

However, I have a fair bit of stock just in case others turn out to be right about it.
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Re: Fonseca 1985 VP

Post by LGTrotter » 18:08 Mon 17 Nov 2014

I have had this several times over the years, mostly from a half dozen I bought from Christopher Piper wines. I suspect they bought them at auction. They have been very consistent, in the dark, youthful, plush mould. I was a bit worried when I read somewhere that those bottles shipped recently from Portugal are less consistent, more evolved etc. I bought a dozen from Berrys but have not tried any. I probably would have bought more had not there been grumblings about the apparent inconsistencies in one of the Berrys tastings of this wine.

Perhaps I should rethink this as it would be a spectacular wine to have a few cases of that you could dip into regularly, still reasonably priced and widely available. As I have said elsewhere I do not believe the rumour that the 85s in general and the Fonseca in particular are on their way to an early demise. And the bottles I have drunk are so stout that I cannot believe they have a nasty surprise waiting for us in five years. I have found that it does not mind being open for a while, which I take, perhaps wrongly, as a sign of longevity.

I get a little superstitious about being too nice about a particular port, like praising a baby to it's face it may bring bad luck. I certainly noticed that the price went up and the availability went down of the Warre 80 once I started being nice about it.

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Re: Fonseca 1985 VP

Post by DRT » 18:16 Mon 17 Nov 2014

I find that ex-cellars releases are invariably more evolved than those that were shipped to the UK in their second or third year and stored in our climate. I don't think it is surprising that F85 that has come from VNG recently will be more evolved than those who have been in a cold, damp vault in the UK for two and a half decades.

I am a big fan of F85 but I think, like F70 was ten years ago, its time is yet to come.
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Re: Fonseca 1985 VP

Post by djewesbury » 18:18 Mon 17 Nov 2014

LGTrotter wrote:I get a little superstitious about being too nice about a particular port, like praising a baby to it's face it may bring bad luck. I certainly noticed that the price went up and the availability went down of the Warre 80 once I started being nice about it.
I agree, this is disgusting stuff.
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Re: Fonseca 1985 VP

Post by Glenn E. » 19:12 Mon 17 Nov 2014

DRT wrote:I am a big fan of F85 but I think, like F70 was ten years ago, its time is yet to come.
+1. Not sure 10 years will be enough.
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Re: Fonseca 1985 VP

Post by AHB » 19:50 Mon 17 Nov 2014

I have the opinion that Fonseca 1985 is a fabulous port today and will be even better in the future - the comparison with Fonseca 1970 is a very fair one, in my view. And 1985 was a huge vintage so there is plenty around still at a reasonable price. It's a port where I have put my money where my glass is and I have enough to see me into my dotage.

And this thread has prompted me to look back at my scores. Despite bottle variation, it seems that my appreciation of this port has increased noticeably over the past couple of years:
11/06 - 86
03/08 - 91
11/08 - 91
06/09 - 87
06/09 - 88 (different bottle to the one above)
10/09 - 95
04/10 - 91
04/11 - 94
10/11 - 90
12/11 - 92
03/12 - 84 (eugh! horrid bottle)
03/12 - 83 (another bottle from the same source)
05/12 - 93
09/12 - 94
09/12 - 92 (Warre / Fonseca vertical)
04/13 - 93 (1983 / 1985 horizontal)
08/14 - 86
10/14 - 94 (Portuguese stored)
10/14 - 92

It seems I am also drinking F85 more often - that must be a good sign.
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Re: Fonseca 1985 VP

Post by PhilW » 09:51 Tue 18 Nov 2014

Re-tasted at D+24 : Not quite as good as at D+0; still had lovely aspects to it, plenty of dark spicy fruit, very strong structure, complexity, but also a little disjointed, and not quite as full overall.
DRT wrote:I am a big fan of F85 but I think, like F70 was ten years ago, its time is yet to come.
F70 was one of the ports that really kindled my port obsession around 2001; while it's difficult to be sure given the elapsed time, it seems to me that the F85 is not currently as evolved as the F70 was then - but perhaps I only have a few more years to wait, or perhaps that original F70 may also have been ex-cellars (it was from BBR).
AHB wrote:It seems I am also drinking F85 more often - that must be a good sign.
or a sign that your port consumption is increasing with time :) Thank you for the summary of scores; interesting to see, though I wouldn't have drawn the same conclusion:
alex_f85.jpg
alex_f85.jpg (29.65 KiB) Viewed 1215 times
From that I would have said that the bottle variation seems to have decreased, but that it has received around the same mean points since late 2009 (point 6), ignoring the two faulty bottles (11,12) unless your comments alongside the scores would alter that view.

All very interesting.

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Re: Fonseca 1985 VP

Post by LGTrotter » 13:46 Tue 18 Nov 2014

If I may hold my nose and discuss the 100 point scale, I too was struck by the variability of Alex's numbers which seem to support RAYC's experience. If I had to give a number to this port I would say 93ish for an average, but it would never have slipped below 90. Perhaps there is something to be learned from where these low to mid 80 point bottles came from. But I am never too troubled by the odd outlier, variation being one of those things.

I sometimes think that Fonseca seems to attract very favourable reviews and numbers because of a few famous vintages. It's a shame really because I really like some of their B side vintages. I had an 83 Fonseca recently which was really lovely, not big or showy but gentle and persuasive. Unfortunately because it says Fonseca on the bottle it is a bit pricey. Also I think I mentally prepare myself for a seductive, plush taste sensation when I drink Fonseca which may mean I have judged harshly some vintages made in a different mould.

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Re: Fonseca 1985 VP

Post by Glenn E. » 17:21 Tue 18 Nov 2014

LGTrotter wrote:I too was struck by the variability of Alex's numbers which seem to support RAYC's experience.
Given how rubbish we all are at identifying mystery Ports, I'm not at all surprised by Alex's (or anyone else's) numbers.

There are just too many factors that can influence your impression of a Port at any one tasting. What did you have for dinner last night? Lunch today? Did you sleep well last night? Have you exercised today? Bad day at work? How's the weather outside? Did Daniel bring a pork pie?

I'm usually happy if subsequent scores are within 2 points of previous scores. Only if I'm off by 3+ do I begin to wonder if there might have been something different about the two examples.
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Re: Fonseca 1985 VP

Post by LGTrotter » 17:31 Tue 18 Nov 2014

Glenn E. wrote:Given how rubbish we all are at identifying mystery Ports, I'm not at all surprised by Alex's (or anyone else's) numbers.

There are just too many factors that can influence your impression of a Port at any one tasting. What did you have for dinner last night? Lunch today? Did you sleep well last night? Have you exercised today? Bad day at work? How's the weather outside? Did Daniel bring a pork pie?
An excellent point well made.

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Re: Fonseca 1985 VP

Post by flash_uk » 18:12 Tue 18 Nov 2014

When I look at Alex's scores, I see an indifferent start, not spectacular, not poor. Then followed by a period of 14 bottles where 11 avg 93 and the other 3 score 83, 84, 86. Or in other words 1 in 5 bottles give a poor showing. Is there another 1985 shipper that matches or beats that?

Edit: oh no. I may have reignited the Graham, Taylor, Fonseca 85 debate :shock:

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Re: Fonseca 1985 VP

Post by DRT » 00:52 Wed 19 Nov 2014

When I seem Alex's scores I see an inconsistency problem that I don't recognise. I do realise where the problem is likely to be but I am very surprised by that graph.

If Fonseca is the best of it, perhaps 1985 is indeed a vintage to avoid?
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Re: Fonseca 1985 VP

Post by LGTrotter » 00:59 Wed 19 Nov 2014

DRT wrote:If Fonseca is the best of it, perhaps 1985 is indeed a vintage to avoid?
Now stop it. That wretched 1985, if it weren't for the Fonseca, the Taylor (I hear), the Graham, the Warre, the Dow, the Churchill, have I missed any? Oh yes the Martinez is not too despicable at the price I paid. Apart from those, a wipeout.

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Re: Fonseca 1985 VP

Post by DRT » 01:01 Wed 19 Nov 2014

LGTrotter wrote:
DRT wrote:If Fonseca is the best of it, perhaps 1985 is indeed a vintage to avoid?
Now stop it. That wretched 1985, if it weren't for the Fonseca, the Taylor (I hear), the Graham, the Warre, the Dow, the Churchill, have I missed any? Oh yes the Martinez is not too despicable at the price I paid. Apart from those, a wipeout.
I'd put my money on the Taylor if I were you :wink:
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Re: Fonseca 1985 VP

Post by LGTrotter » 01:01 Wed 19 Nov 2014

And the Sandeman which bears an uncanny resemblance to the note that Alex posted of the 1960.

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Re: Fonseca 1985 VP

Post by LGTrotter » 01:23 Wed 19 Nov 2014

DRT wrote:I'd put my money on the Taylor if I were you :wink:
They have some on Berrys at the minute. Rather expensive but I plan to beat them down on the port walk.

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Re: Fonseca 1985 VP

Post by DRT » 01:29 Wed 19 Nov 2014

LGTrotter wrote:
DRT wrote:I'd put my money on the Taylor if I were you :wink:
They have some on Berrys at the minute. Rather expensive but I plan to beat them down on the port walk.
:shock:
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Re: Fonseca 1985 VP

Post by LGTrotter » 18:09 Wed 19 Nov 2014

DRT wrote:
LGTrotter wrote:They have some on Berrys at the minute. Rather expensive but I plan to beat them down on the port walk.
:shock:
Is the shock related to
a) My prospect of getting a decent price out of Berrys?
b) Frank disbelief that I am not a dog?
c) Frank disbelief that I am coming?
d) Some other faux pas of which I am unaware?
e) The prospect of someone taking your advice about port?

As to the subject under discussion, the Fonseca 85, I think, like Glenn, that the problem lies with the points system rather than the port. I wonder if Alex drank any of them with the thought that they tasted like anything other than Fonseca 85? But as someone has pointed out blind tasting results suggest that the identification of a particular port is very difficult, even with such experienced tasters as those on this forum. I exclude myself from the so experienced bracket, cos I'm not.

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Fonseca 1985 VP

Post by DRT » 21:49 Wed 19 Nov 2014

LGTrotter wrote: (f) Is the shock related to
the thought of Owen buying T85, especially at BBR prices.
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Re: Fonseca 1985 VP

Post by LGTrotter » 23:17 Wed 19 Nov 2014

DRT wrote:
LGTrotter wrote: (f) Is the shock related to
the thought of Owen buying T85, especially at BBR prices.
As someone who usually buys retail I have found some ports at quite reasonable prices on Berrys, admittedly infrequently. The convenience has led me to pay a bit over the odds on occasion. But generally I do find them over priced, sometimes laughably so. The recent offer of Taylor's 97 at the wrong side of a grand a box in bond is a fine example of this. BBX has some treasures too, £1900 for six Fonseca 94 anyone? In bond of course. I wonder if it is an attempt to push up the average price on wine searcher, so egregious are the prices.

And I wouldn't mind half a dozen, or even a whole case of Taylor 85 given the real (ie not at Berrys) current price.

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Re: Fonseca 1985 VP

Post by mosesbotbol » 07:21 Mon 24 Nov 2014

I recently picked up a case of Fonseca 1985 that was stored in a cellar since it was released. No rush to start drinking them, but can't wait. The 1970's ports from the same cellar are utterly amazing so the expectation on the on the F85 is quite high. The price was like stealing candy from a baby. 88)
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