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Fortification Spirit for the 1972 Vintage

March 6, 2013
Question by: Alwyn, South Africa

Q:

I know about all the problems with the alcohol in 1972 and I tasted a Sandeman 1972 Vintage (not for Sale on the market)  x 3. I also see 1972 DOWS on the market. How bad was that alcohol really?

A:

The short answer is not bad at all and no cause for concern.  Enjoy your Dow's 1972 Vintage Port if you are lucky enough to have a bottle!

In the early 1970s the spirit for fortification supplied to all Port producers by the government-run monopoly turned out to be an industrial alcohol, not a pure grape spirit made from distilled wine as is normally used.  The Casa do Douro (the then regulatory body for Port wine) intervened in later years when the fraud was discovered, and bought up much of the wine, removing it from the market, but their concern was based on trades-description issues, because the spirit was not wine based.  The spirit itself, though not wine-derived, was perfectly good, safe spirit and there are no implications whatsoever for health or the longevity of the wines.

Symingtons declared only the Dow's brand in 1972 - it was a challenging year viticulturally and very few houses declared.  Whilst the Dow's Vintage 1972 has not been professionally reviewed in some years,  you may be interested in the Dows 1972 tasting notes on The Port Forum - whilst not professional critics, these very knowledgeable and experienced amateurs of Port enjoyed the wine as part of an extensive vertical of Dow's Vintages in 2010.

In addition, in 2004 the Symington family decided to bottle some of the Dow's 1972 that had been ageing in small cask since harvest as a Colheita - certainly a testament to our belief in the quality of the wine after more than 30 years.



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