Thank you to Axel (and Wolfgang's assistance) for organising the tasting on Tuesday, and an enjoyable evening with several new faces, including Elsa from Dalva and Sten and Jorgen making it over from Sweden. The RAF club facilities were excellent as always, as was the food, and I was very glad that the decision had been taken to hire glasses.
We unfortunately had an unusually high number of faulty wines. Of the fourteen wines, three were undrinkable for me (Cr60, D63 and N66) and a further three had faults (Av63 with TCA, S63 with very slight TCA, and T66 with VA?). However, we also had some spectacularly good wines, with the W63 and F60 both in fantastic condition and delicious, as was the Dalva Golden White '63. Despite the slight TCA the S63 seemed to be a lovely wine which without the TCA would have been up there with the best, and we also had a couple of very unusual wines to try, being Harvey '62, and Feist '63 which were both decent, but not in the league of the best wines tonight.
While the theme of the night was "Something nice from the 60s", as soon as Wolfgang had said that he would bring along one of his last Avery '63s (since he knew I was keen to taste it) I very much wanted to ensure that the component wines from which it was originally blended would also be present, so thank you to Wolfgang for supplying the Avery, and to everyone else for letting me push things around a little to ensure we had all the components.
As previous bottles of Avery '63 from the same case had been in good condition, it was a real shame to find that this bottle was somewhat corked (TCA); it was not so much that you couldn’t taste the wine underneath, and the wine was still perfectly drinkable, but more than slightly so it did affect the ability to taste the wine properly. While this is always a possibility when opening a number of bottles of this age, it was rather a shame given our desire to compare with components and re-created blend; however despite this slight setback, we decided to proceed and re-create the blend for comparison anyway.
We had understood previously that the Avery '63 was believed to be a blend of Sandeman, Fonseca and Taylor from that year, so had ensured that these would all be present. Thanks to information supplied by Mimi Avery shortly before the tasting we learned that the ratio used for this particular blend was 3:1:0.2 of Sandeman:Fonseca:Taylor, which means that not only could we compare the Avery '63 to its separate component wines, but could now also accurately recreate the original blend but using the mature components in the correct proportions.
Using small amounts from the Sandeman, Fonseca and Taylor in these same proportions as the original, we re-created the same blend using the mature ports. I was honestly quite surprised at how similar the recreated blend seemed to the original blend, as far as we could tell while trying to ignore the unfortunate TCA on the latter, with the Sandeman seeming to dominate the early taste but then with the combined taste including the Fonseca/Taylor coming through later. I had not expected quite such a similar result for some reason; I wonder whether our perceptions might have been different without the TCA, as in trying to ignore it I was perhaps more focussed on the similarities, whereas without it I might have noted the difference more.
Definitely an interesting experiment, and one which several people expressed an interest in repeating in the future, perhaps with a different vintage (most likely the ’60).
Thanks again to all for the organisation, supply of all the wines, and a very enjoyable and interesting evening.