What a magnificent port this proved to be!
In the glass on 20 February 2021 after a three and one-half hour decant, this brick-red wine with a clear rim was remarkably opaque for a vintage port which has passed its fiftieth year. More remarkable still was the nose. The first thing that struck my drinking companions and I was its incredible freshness; Her Ladyship likened it to “chilled air.” Mere mortals would have recognised mint, pine sap, loads of pepper, plum and the cranberry sauce found at Christmas dinner in Canada alongside the abomination which is turkey. There was still more, though at this point in the tasting exercise I lost temporarily my interest in being your correspondent: the nose was so rich that the olfactory nerve, along with my interest in continued scribbling, became overwhelmed, such was the effort involved in breaking down the component parts of the bouquet.
At the mouth, one was confronted with a classic of the Dow's canon. Dark cherry and chocolate which was darker still together struck hard on the fore-palate. Midway through, the (white) pepper which had been evident on the nose, along with red blood orange, which may or may not have been candied - there was theological-like debate regarding this nuance - came together with the mint which had likewise been discerned earlier. These notes rolled together to the back, where exceedingly refined tannins made an appearance. The finish was slow out of the gate, though once it got going there was no stopping the thing. It built slowly upon a bed of gentle spice, to the point that the mouth and the sinuses were left tingling, seemingly forever, as the balance of the decanter was thrown greedily down the collected throats.
The overall impression was of the Dow’s style at its very best; that is, exceedingly complex and very dry, with a measure of balance which would have impressed one of the Flying Wallendas making his way along a piece of dental floss stretched above the Niagara Falls. The thing is, though, this wine has not yet peaked: it remains a half decade or even more from its high point, whereupon it shall rest assuredly there until its seventieth year and I would expect beyond. The brilliant 1960 and 1963 exemplars from Dow’s need not pay homage to their younger sibling, though I believe that the 1970 shall before too long be better still.
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