Lauded justifiably for its tawnies and, to a lesser degree, for its still wines, ‘tis nonetheless with good reason that the cognoscenti have not sought the generally pedestrian vintage ports proffered by the physically-immense Quinta da Romaneira. In the event, the 1994 Romaneira rests comfortably at the top of the second rank of that outstanding year.
Decanted for nine hours on 08 January 2021, the purple hues of infancy were observed to have been tempered slightly by touches of red and brown which together in the glass let through only the barest hint of light. At the point of decanting, the port was bereft of bottle stink and gave off, instead, powerful notes of ripe plum and cocoa which enveloped the room. The sensation was pleasant in the extreme. After nine hours, the nose was a good deal more subtle: the plum had evolved to prune, though the cocoa was still discernible - coupled with a touch of damp, split wood. On entry, the prune hit the fore-palate along with a light-grade honey and rose water. Boiled chestnut acted as a bridge to quite bitter spices at the mid palate, though these became (mercifully) less sharp after the second pour. Tannins dominated at the back through the medium-length finish. In the event, a touch of patience at the finale was rewarded with a cameo reappearance of the prune. All of the aforementioned noted, my strong suspicion is that a six-hour decant would have been more appropriate.
The contrast between the fruit-forward style and the mid-palate spice, whilst initially confusing as the olfactory nerve had failed to forewarn of the bitter shock to the palate, proved to be a quickly-acquired taste. The still-robust, tannic backbone suggested that the wine remains ten or fifteen years from its peak, though I found it to be very agreeable at the minute. This full-bodied port evidenced generous acidity, in a manner consistent with Romaneira tawnies, though it rested upon the dry side of the spectrum. However, the wine did not come across as being imbalanced; and, whilst the style evinced by the 1994 Romaneira is sui generis, it will appeal to fans of the better Dow and Rebello Valente vintages. With a bit of searching, this port can be acquired for less than EUR 30/bottle; given the agreeable tariff as well as its quality, the 1994 Quinta da Romaneira vintage port is well worth acquiring for consumption today and, perhaps more so, in future.
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