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Old Bottle of Graham's Ruby Port

April 25, 2012
Question by: Sophie, Petersfield, GB

Q:

A relative recently passed away and when clearing the house we stumbled across this 'Grahams Ruby Port' with no date that I can see. Although it looks old, with a yellowed and slightly mold damaged label, it has a screw top with the seal not broken. On the bottom of the bottle are clear letters reading 'Luis Gordon & Sons Ltd Domeco Sherries' and the numbers 2140-22. Is there much value in this or can I simply open and enjoy?  Thanks for your help.

A:

Hi Sophie, Without a photo or seeing the bottle ourselves, we can only suggest two possibilities:  one is that this wine was shipped in cask, before 1974, and bottled by Luis Gordon & Sons, or the other possibility is that we may have had some kind of arrangement to bottle a ruby port specifically for them, hence the bottle having their name as well as Graham's. 

In either case, a Ruby Port is a style intended for consumption within just a few years of bottling, not meant for long term ageing.  By all means, open it, if it has been well stored in a cool dark cellar, it may still be enjoyable regardless of age.  If it is very old, it may be cloudy, or if it has been poorly stored, of course it may not be very pleasant.  Because this is not a style meant for long term ageing, it would not have re-sale value in the secondary market for fine wines.

We are puzzled by your reference to a screw top, and think it more likely to be a T-stopper cork closure, though if this was bottled by Gordon's anything is possible.  You might look on the Graham's website at a photo of, for example, Six Grapes (a Reserve Ruby style) which has a T-stopper versus a Vintage which has a driven cork.  You can see the Six Grapes shows a distinct line where the top section of the stopper (approximately 9 mm high) meets the glass lip of the bottle under the seal.

If you are familiar with London, alongside Charing Cross train station is Villiers Street which runs down towards the entrance to Embankment Tube Station.  There you will find Gordon's Wine Bar which is still owned and run by the same family that once owned Luis Gordon & Sons, who were most well known as sherry importers, particularly of Domecq.  It is possible that if you show your bottle to the people there, they may be able to tell you more.



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