The Quarles Harris label came to form part of the Symington stable before there was a Symington stable of which to speak. As the making of Quarles Harris wines has never been tied to one or more quintas, there is arguably greater scope for creativity in the making of this port when a vintage is produced, though in my experience a Quarles Harris style is most certainly in evidence – a style to which this bottle conformed nicely, in the main.
In the glass on Christmas Eve 2020 after a nine-hour decant, which may have been a touch excessive, the port showed a semi-translucent garnet and sported a clear rim. The nose was delectable, with candied black cherry and dark chocolate serving as the principal sensations, complemented by touches of wood, beeswax, linden and cloves. To describe the impression on the olfactory nerve as complex would be to overstate the matter, though it was admittedly difficult to get one’s face out of the stemware, such was the considerable pleasure of the bouquet. The cherry and chocolate were very much in evidence on entry, though they were supplanted with despatch by dominant notes of clove and a sweet chili which complemented the chocolate in a most agreeable manner. These sensations lingered to the back, where a touch of heat presented itself as the first discernible, albeit minor flaw in this wine. The gentlest of tannins were evident at the finish, which I found to be understated, undistinguished and inconsistent in quality with most of what had come before. A writer present for the occasion said of the finish that “it just holds you there; it doesn’t improve the wine, nor does it diminish it.” His remarks would explain why this guest has a Pulitzer Prize and I am condemned to toil in perpetuity in the cesspool which is criminal law.
The 1977 Quarles Harris vintage port can be uneven, some four decades after its production, reflecting presumably the manner in which the grapes were sourced. This bottle proved to be well balanced and appealed very much to my preference for drier ports; and, whilst not without its shortcomings, it suggested that the 1977 Quarles Harris is resting currently on a peak from which it shall start to descend presently.
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