1999 Castelinho

Tasting notes for individual Ports, with an index sorted by vintage and alphabetically.
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Tasting notes for individual Ports, with an index sorted by vintage and alphabetically.
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Will W.
Cockburn’s Special Reserve
Posts: 26
Joined: 14:33 Thu 11 Aug 2016

1999 Castelinho

Post by Will W. » 10:21 Wed 17 Jul 2019

Quinta do Castelinho, situated in the Sao Joao da Pesqueira region, was owned by the Saraiva family until 2014. The property and its assets – less the port stocks, which were sold by the Saraivas to Gran Cruz in 2005 – were purchased in a distressed state for one Euro in 2014 by Pedro Mendes, a Lamego-based accountant-cum-entrepreneur with long experience of the business side of the port- and still-wine trades. That same year, Quinta do Castelinho was subsumed within a broader partnership formed by Mendes and Quinta da Pacheca. Vintage port was last produced under the Castelinho label in 2003; the grapes grown on the Castelinho property are currently used primarily in the production vinho do porto a granel, which is sold to Gran Cruz, Symington and Vale de Sao Martinho. The current owners of the property have taken no decision on the question of whether they will bottle Castelinho vintage port in future.

At the peak of its output during the 1990s, Quinta do Castelinho produced inexpensive vintage (and other) ports in considerable quantity for export to Canada, Belgium, France and the Netherlands. As such, the Castelinho vintage ports are largely – though not undeservedly (do read on) – unknown to the port-drinking cognoscenti of the United Kingdom and the United States. Today, Castelinho vintage ports can be found readily at retail outlets in Portugal as well as on offer through Dutch and Belgian wine auctions. They remain inexpensive.

A tasting panel assembled near Lamego to confront two half bottles of 1999 Castelinho vintage port on the evening of 09 July 2019. Three experts were to hand: a New Yorker writer, who had learned the previous week in Lisbon what port was supposed to taste like; Her Ladyship, a former journalist with a fine nose, palate and considerable port-quaffing experience, who was by default the lead taster; and your arts and letters correspondent. The panel selected the 1999 Castelinho on the basis of morbid curiosity, its immediate availability and the suggestion in extant (albeit rare) tasting notes that the 1999 was unlikely to give rise to illness.

Bottle 1

After a six-hour decant, the wine was semi-opaque, showing brick hues with (in the view of Her Ladyship) a hint of cherry. Swirling the contents of the glass and placing one’s nose therein gave rise to the risk of burns, what with the overpowering aguardiente. In the event, it was discovered that holding the glass at a certain distance from the olfactory nerve whilst taking shallow breaths unleashed hints of apricot jam and red cherry. One still had to ingest the stuff, of course. The aguardiente was, to put it mildly, rather overpowering upon entry, though perseverance – as if there was anything for it, by that point – confirmed the earlier suspicions of apricot jam and red cherry, additional to hints of brown sugar and almond paste. Of medium weight, the tannins were fully integrated; at the same time, the wine was a touch too sweet and presented insufficient acidity – though in fairness, it would be overstating things to describe the port as cloying. The finish, of considerable length, was not offensive in the least, once the aguardiente had made its way to the stomach. Her Ladyship – a professed communist with a fondness for champagne, who naturally-enough started her career at the Guardian – asserted that the port “would not be unpleasant on a stormy night during the battle of Stalingrad.”

The overall impression? Perfectly suitable for consumption under combat conditions on the Eastern Front.

-83 Points

Bottle 2

The second bottle was outwardly indistinguishable from the first, save for a dissimilar style of tin capsule. This example had presumably passed though the bottling line at a distinct juncture, and one suspects that the wine spent the obligatory two years in a different barrel. Or such was the working assumption of the tasting panel. However, the said assumption could not be demonstrated with additional evidence because by this point in the evening your correspondent was loath to root through soiled nappies, cigarette ends and whatever else was in the rubbish to recover the selos. At any rate, Bottle 2 was altogether better than Bottle 1.

Bottle 2 presented in the glass as rather more reddish than Bottle 1. Better still, it proved possible to get one’s nose near to the glass without risk of injury. Such effort was rewarded with aromas of minerality, stewed fruit and genuinely fond memories of your correspondent’s grandparents’ damp cellar. Upon entry, the aguardiente, whilst certainly present, proved manageable, giving way quickly to flavours of chestnut, red cherry, spices and rooibos tea. The tannic structure suggested that bottles of the same ilk might last for a few years yet; the acidity level was such that the overall balance of the port was perfectly acceptable. The medium-long finish proved to be pleasant.

The verdict? Suitable for consumption in non-combat conditions where the bulk of one’s immediately-disposal funds have been lost at cards.

-86 Points

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AHB
Fonseca 1963
Posts: 12294
Joined: 13:41 Mon 25 Jun 2007
Location: Berkshire, UK

Re: 1999 Castelinho

Post by AHB » 13:35 Fri 19 Jul 2019

A wonderful tasting note! Thank you for taking the time to write such an entertaining insight into your shared opinions of the wine.
Top Ports in 2019 (so far): Cockburn 1947 and Quinta do Noval Nacional 2017
2018 Ports of the year: São Leonardo 1927 White Port (Bottled 2018), Quinta do Noval Nacional 1994

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