80s Majors Matrix, Thursday 9 March 2017

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flash_uk
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80s Majors Matrix, Thursday 9 March 2017

Post by flash_uk » 20:20 Thu 02 Mar 2017

We gathered to see how the ports of five major houses from the early 80s were faring.

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Re: 80s Majors Matrix, Thursday 9 March 2017

Post by jdaw1 » 00:49 Fri 10 Mar 2017

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Re: 80s Majors Matrix, Thursday 9 March 2017

Post by jdaw1 » 00:50 Fri 10 Mar 2017

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Re: 80s Majors Matrix, Thursday 9 March 2017

Post by jdaw1 » 00:50 Fri 10 Mar 2017

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Re: 80s Majors Matrix, Thursday 9 March 2017

Post by PopulusTremula » 09:57 Fri 10 Mar 2017

Looks like a great evening, i have assumed a dark green shade of envy.

Some observations from the score sheet:

1. No points awarded to any port from 1983. In fact, Phil's 1/2 point to T80 implies this was preferable to any wine from 1983. Was the competition too fierce or were the wines simply not that good? In any case, Owen will be pleased.
2. T85 in joint first place, with a higher score than F85. From this tasting (and others recently), it would seem this port is back from its walk in the desert whereas F85 appears to be sulking of late. Comments on T85 are much appreciated.
3. G85, joint first. Anyone surprised? The reliability of this port is almost dull.
4. Alex really likes W80.
5. Not a bad showing by D85.

Look forward to insightful comments of the attendees and of course, Derek's tasting notes.

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Re: 80s Majors Matrix, Thursday 9 March 2017

Post by flash_uk » 13:44 Fri 10 Mar 2017

A splendid evening in great company. I had been looking forward to this for some time, as I really didn't have a good grasp on these shippers in the '80s. Not that one tasting reveals the universal truth of course!

Many thanks to Simon D for helping with the decanting and pouring. Also thanks again to the Boot and Flogger team for excellent food and service yet again.

And a pleasure to welcome Jancis Robinson to her first TPF tasting!

The scoring doesn't quite tell the full story of these ports. As could have been expected, the Taylor and Fonseca '80 and '83s were paler and more evolved than the rest. The F80 was a bit odd, flat. Some thought it was flawed in some way. The F83 was not at its best either. F85 was very nice, but not as dark and proud as it has been in recent times, and could well be going through a phase of change.

All of the Symington '80s were displaying their youthful qualities as expected. These have some way to go before we find out what peaks they can achieve. D80 and G80 were my preference of these three.

The Warres were all perfectly yummy ports. As we discussed during the evening at one end of the table, they fulfilled their often common role of being solid middle of the pack ports. These Warre vintages will rarely come top though will also rarely show poorly.

D83 was corked. The backup D83 which I had to hand was riddled with the worst VA I've ever encountered. G83 was perfectly yummy, but others scored the points. D85 was a nice surprise. Graham '85 was top drawer, perhaps one of the best showings of this I have had.

Finally, Taylor '85 was WOTN for me - finally I taste a bottle of this which matches the praise many others have given this port! On a par with a great bottle of F85.

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Re: 80s Majors Matrix, Thursday 9 March 2017

Post by idj123 » 14:42 Fri 10 Mar 2017

Mike's pretty much written the review I was going to write in his post above. However, chapeau to him for his excellent organisation (what a pleasure it was to turn up at 6.20pm and be confronted with a table full of the poured glasses seen in the photos). Also a shout out to the staff at B&F for their attentiveness on what was clearly quite a bustling Thursday night (can't recall ever having seen a four month old baby at the B&F before!). Food was also pretty much up to its usual standard.

In terms of the wines (and having left what there were of my tasting notes at the B&F, this is from memory!), I had the G85 as my WOTN; it just had the right amount of acidity married up to that lovely Graham's sweetness. The T85 I had in second place-this bottle being more evolved than previous examples (including the bottles provided a few months ago for the 'Year in Port' premiere at the Portuguese embassy). Charles had said that this was one of those bottles that Tesco were flogging for £45 a pop some 18 months ago and so its evolution might have been accelerated by being stood up on a shelf somewhere.

The F85 whilst not bad has certainly shown better (which is probably why I didn't award it any points) and I could easily have shared all the lesser points between all the Symington 80 offerings (the W80 having improved in the glass over the course of the evening) rather than a D/G split. Information gleaned from this tasting:

-Graham heads the consistency table (the G83 wasn't a bad drop of juice)
-85s generally outgun the 83s
-buy any (or all) of the G, D and W80 as they've got a fair bit more to go and give
-and Mike has (in all probability) a compromised case of D83 that he stores at his office!

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Re: 80s Majors Matrix, Thursday 9 March 2017

Post by LGTrotter » 17:02 Fri 10 Mar 2017

PopulusTremula wrote:
09:57 Fri 10 Mar 2017
Looks like a great evening, i have assumed a dark green shade of envy.
Me too. Particularly as Jancis was present, one of my wine heroes. Probably best I wasn't there, I would have only stared in slack jawed, bumpkinish awe at her all night.

As to the wines I too noted that the 83s garnered no points in the WOTN reckoning. Owen (me) has mixed feelings on this as I have bought about 2 cases of 83s in the last few weeks. That the Warre 80 attracted an adoring glance from someone is unsurprising, although I am pleased it was Alex's wine of the night as I feel his opinions are worth close attention. Certainly a wine which has more to give, although I think it might become like the Smith Woodhouse 77; a bit of a knuckle dragger. I wonder about the sense of Warre ports being middle of the pack wines. I think they deserve a higher status than their prices suggest (Phil? Where are you? Come and support me on this). Interesting that the Graham is mentioned as the most consistent shipper, I thought this when I first started drinking port, then I wasn't so sure, and now I think it is true again. But is consistency a good substitute for the dizzy heights of Taylor and Fonseca? Probably.

While it is difficult to tell from the photos all the wines looked reasonably well coloured. Was this apparent to those present?

As many write ups about the comparative merits of these wines as possible please and any gossip would be most appreciated.

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Re: 80s Majors Matrix, Thursday 9 March 2017

Post by flash_uk » 17:46 Fri 10 Mar 2017

LGTrotter wrote:
17:02 Fri 10 Mar 2017
While it is difficult to tell from the photos all the wines looked reasonably well coloured. Was this apparent to those present?
Yes good colours in all the wines, T and F 80 and 83 in a group of similar colour, with the rest then in a group of similar colour.

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Re: 80s Majors Matrix, Thursday 9 March 2017

Post by PhilW » 19:15 Fri 10 Mar 2017

First my thanks again to all for the ports and the organisation, particularly Mike and Simon for the decanting. Service and food were also very good, credit to the B&F.
(Ian, I saw you had left your notes behind, so grabbed them and will forward images for you.)

It was an interesting evening, and the bare statistics which can be drawn from the voting could certainly lead to some erroneous conclusions. In addition to what has already been mentioned above, I would note the following:

- Overall, I was hoping to put to rest my slight suspicion of the 80s being a weak decade for port, but have not done so yet. There are certainly some good ports, and some which will still improve, but at the moment few stars when compared with 70 or 77 a decade ago.
- Most of the wines rated in the "good" range for me, with only a couple making "very good", none falling as far as "ok" ignoring the faulty ones, so overall quite a level field.
- Some ports did not show up to scratch for me: The D83 was heavily corked (and sadly the replacement bottle which Mike kindly opened was the worst VA-affected bottle I've come across - so bad I smelled but did not taste it), and the W85 had just a hint of TCA on it, I thought. The F83 I thought showed poorly, but then I have a higher respect for this wine than most - perhaps I've just been lucky previously with an excellent batch. The F85 was good, but not as good as it can be.
- G85 was a surprise to me as star of the night (it was my WOTN, as well as overall winner).
- Warre was "good" across the board. As noted by Julian, and the same was true base on my own ratings, the Warre was the best of the 83s, the worst of the 85s, but did not have any "star" ports which were high enough to make it into the top 3 for me - and indeed, aside from Alex, nobody else assigned more than one point to Warre, despite most people seeming to feel that the set of Warre ports were a good showing and many comments on the good quality/price ratio the shipper offers.
- Taylor was also "good" or "very good" and for me was the clear "shipper of the night" - a slight surprise for me given my usual flavour profile preferences.

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Re: 80s Majors Matrix, Thursday 9 March 2017

Post by DRT » 23:20 Fri 10 Mar 2017

A good summary from Phil.

I do think the 80s decade is one of Port's weakest links. I think the line-up we had was probably at the top end of what to expect of each of those three vintages and only a handful of the wines could be classed as good to very good.

My conclusion from the tasting is that I will continue to avoid the 1980s vintages with the possible exception of big shipper 85s.

A very educational tasting, and thanks go to the organisers.
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Re: 80s Majors Matrix, Thursday 9 March 2017

Post by jdaw1 » 00:17 Sat 11 Mar 2017

Great work by Mike, to whom Simon D. played an also excellent ‘Robin’.

Summary conclusions: • 1985s better than 1980s, which out did the 1983s. • Best three G85, F85, T85, which could reasonably have been put in any order. • The Symington 1980s, Dow in particular, were not at their finest — I hope an aberration rather than a general weakening. • Warre was worst ’85 and best ’83. • TFP were not at their finest in ’80 and ’83, but did great work in ’85.

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Re: 80s Majors Matrix, Thursday 9 March 2017

Post by LGTrotter » 01:10 Sat 11 Mar 2017

DRT wrote:
23:20 Fri 10 Mar 2017
I do think the 80s decade is one of Port's weakest links.
Oh dear. I guess this is from the perspective of someone who has plenty of port from the sixties and seventies tucked away, most of mine is from the eighties. Maybe it is what I am used to but I think there are a few overlooked wines from the 1980 vintage. The 83 is more of a grey area for me and the 85s have enough good to great ports to be considered as a buy (telling that Julian thought the Warre was the worst of the 85s on show as it is IMO an excellent port) And when compared to the nineties which has 94 (a bit over-hyped?), 97 (I live in hope) and the 91/92 split I think the eighties will bear comparison. Anyway, as the eighties will be where most of my port drinking will come from I shall have to get used to them. So to hell with great ports and hurrah for the sick, the halt and the lame.

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Re: 80s Majors Matrix, Thursday 9 March 2017

Post by Andy Velebil » 01:56 Sat 11 Mar 2017

A good read and I have to concur with Derek. For many years I've referred to the mid 1970's through mid 1980's as "The Lost decade of Port". By 1986 things started to turn around and improve, culminating with the wonderful 1994's. There are some gems to be found in that Lost Decade, but there are a lot of TCA issues, VA issues, and a lot of bottle variation issues that make it very problematic. One needs to weigh that carefully when deciding what to buy verses the possibility that one may get a duff bottle.

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Re: 80s Majors Matrix, Thursday 9 March 2017

Post by DRT » 09:10 Sat 11 Mar 2017

LGTrotter wrote:
01:10 Sat 11 Mar 2017
I guess this is from the perspective of someone who has plenty of port from the sixties and seventies tucked away
I do have some, but not plenty, and certainly not enough :(

I don't deny that there are some gems from the 1980s and if you are willing to take your chances with the potential for some of the problems Andy mentions you will find some fine Port to drink. However, I decided a while back to pour whatever money I invest in Port into 1970s as they just feel like a safer bet. Once 1970 goes through its 50th birthday price hike and is twice as expensive as it is today I will probably switch my purchases to G, F & T 85 but I can't imagine I'll be rolling the dice on the others from that vintage or those around it.
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Re: 80s Majors Matrix, Thursday 9 March 2017

Post by LGTrotter » 18:48 Sat 11 Mar 2017

DRT wrote:
09:10 Sat 11 Mar 2017
LGTrotter wrote:
01:10 Sat 11 Mar 2017
I guess this is from the perspective of someone who has plenty of port from the sixties and seventies tucked away
I do have some, but not plenty, and certainly not enough :(
When is it ever enough? I started buying wine with a 12 bottle rack and thought that when I filled that up it would be enough. Those were the days.
And I have just rolled the dice on some Fonseca 83. Not a port that is much fancied, but I like it and somebody has got to drink them. It would seem a shame to pour them away!

By the way, do we have any feedback on Ms Robinson's views? (I feared another correction should I attempt the apostrophe on her first name)

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Re: 80s Majors Matrix, Thursday 9 March 2017

Post by DRT » 22:16 Sat 11 Mar 2017

LGTrotter wrote:
18:48 Sat 11 Mar 2017
do we have any feedback on Ms Robinson's views?
Jancis was not effusive with her opinions on the night. Perhaps a written report will appear somewhere soon.
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Re: 80s Majors Matrix, Thursday 9 March 2017

Post by Constandia » 17:23 Sun 12 Mar 2017

Great gathering yet once again. Thank you Mike and everyone helping make this happen. What a great surprise to meet Jancis, especially as I'm franticaly reading all her notes on U.S. wine at the moment. She's been great help. Respect!
On to the evening itself, this was my first tasting of all the '80s gathered on one single table and it was quite an eye opener. I pretty much agree with everyone that '85 is the vintage of the decade, followed by '80s and last the 83's. Some of my notes include: very pleasantly surprised by Graham's '80, which had the deepest colour of all (60% opaque ( thank you Julian)) with lively bright hues and a extremely long finish will keep evolving for a while, would love to sample this again in a few years time.
Warre's ports were consistent through the decade, with least favourite the '85 and best favourite the '80. Fonseca and Dow's for me please but pretty much all of the 85's!

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Re: 80s Majors Matrix, Thursday 9 March 2017

Post by Doggett » 00:16 Wed 15 Mar 2017

I would like to echo the thoughts above. a really good tasting that provided a good look at the declared vintages in the 80s from the major producers. Great organisation from Mike in getting most the bottles there early and leading then decanting and set up most efficiently. I was disappointed in the showing of the 83 vintage, but hope that maybe next time a group of these are tasted they may prove stronger. My WOTN was the T85 which I thought shaded the G85 and tasted much stronger in this company than at the horizontal of 85s in Nov 2015. On that occasion I had been impressed with the W85 but this time it did not prove as good. I thought that the W80 and D80 both showed that this vintage still has some legs, although the W80 was quite mature and maybe on the downhill slide from now if the bottle was a fair representation. My surprise of the night was that the F85 was just 'good' rather than the great port that I have enjoyed every time previously. I have no doubt that I will taste many more great F85s in the future but it was probably third or fourth on the night for me. Of the 83s, the T83 had a wonderful nose but was a bit flat on the palate and the others were just a bit weak in body and flavour.

The company as always was wonderful, the service and help from the B&F team fantastic, and is was a pleasure to meet Jancis, Thanks to all and onwards to the next tasting of fine juice.

Robin

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Re: 80s Majors Matrix, Thursday 9 March 2017

Post by Andy Velebil » 17:15 Wed 15 Mar 2017

Doggett wrote:
00:16 Wed 15 Mar 2017
..... My surprise of the night was that the F85 was just 'good' rather than the great port that I have enjoyed every time previously. I have no doubt that I will taste many more great F85s in the future but it was probably third or fourth on the night for me.
Fonseca '85 has been in a funky place for a couple years now. I have no doubt it will come out of that phase in due course, but for now I'd leave it alone to sleep off this funk it's in.

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Re: 80s Majors Matrix, Thursday 9 March 2017

Post by jdaw1 » 22:46 Thu 16 Mar 2017

DRT wrote:
22:16 Sat 11 Mar 2017
Jancis was not effusive with her opinions on the night. Perhaps a written report will appear somewhere soon.
On JancisRobinson.com (so behind a password):
Jancis Robinson wrote:Am planning to publish my tasting notes on these vintage ports from the 1980s at the end of the month.

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Re: 80s Majors Matrix, Thursday 9 March 2017

Post by jdaw1 » 21:09 Fri 31 Mar 2017


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