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Best Age to Enjoy Vintage Port

March 19, 2012
Question by: Ray, IE

Q:

From what age can you drink Vintage Port?  Does it vary between vintages?

A:

Hi Ray, Vintage Port can be enjoyed at any time over its life, depending on your own preference for a particular flavour profile.  Very generally, when young, the wines are full bodied and strong with flavours of fresh or jammy red and black fruits, and as they age the flavours can mature to dried fruits, marzipan and nuts, and finally tobacco and tea notes may creep in, while the port becomes more elegant and delicate and the finish lengthens.  Under the Enjoying Port menu tab above, we have an entire article about the Lifecycle of Vintage Port, which describes in more detail the ageing and flavour development over time.

Yes, the way a Port develops over time can vary between vintages - compare for example our notes about general Vintage character for 1950 - known as a delicate, elegant vintage from the start - versus the 1977 which is characterised by its concentration and tannins.

How exactly a specific wine develops over its lifetime depends on the character of the vintage generally, the style of the brand, and how the particular bottle has been cellared.   In our Knowledge Base we have tried to collect tasting notes over the lifetime of the Ports so readers can understand the character of a Vintage Port can change over time.  You might look at the notes for the Graham's 1948 and Graham's 1970 as examples of a wine that has held a fundamentally full bodied character over its life, or the Dow's 1966 which has developed from "cherry and berry" flavours in 1989 to "long almond and caramel" in 2006.



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