Consumed on Bastille Day 2020 after a six-hour decant, like the French this wine presented the most interesting of contrasts.
In the glass, the port was opaque at its core, evinced a clear rim and was dominated by hues redolent of a mature pinot noir complemented by a pink shadow which I have seen cast before over older Rebello Valentes. At the nose, violets, rhubarb, sour cherries, red currants and spices competed for olfactory primacy, with the rhubarb out front at one moment, only to be supplanted the next by an equally agreeable rival. Given the nose and my passing familiarity with the Rebello Valente style, I was expecting something tart and dry at the palate. In the event, the latter was assaulted by a combined force of overripe black cherries and rum, the likes of which are rarely experienced in tandem beyond the confines of French Guianese brothels. And the wine proffered still more surprises when the cherry-rum punch was replaced without warning by white pepper. After that the wonders ceased, though the wine was no less pleasant for this fact: rhubarb and mint appeared at the back, followed by a long, warming and most certainly dry finish. The absence of any tannins at the back or on the finish suggested to me that this wine has reached a peak at which it shall rest comfortably for at least another five years. In the meantime, the 1977 Robertson’s Rebello Valente is a port which the truly adventurous have a duty to seek out and consume.
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