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Dow's 1991 Vintage Port

April 17, 2013
Question by: Robbie, Bury St. Edmonds, UK

Q:

Having just turned 18, I recently found out I've had 6 bottles of Dow's 1991 cellared for me since my christening by my godfather.  I was just wondering about the condition of this Port, and whether it's worth drinking or selling?  Also, an estimate of value for the 6 bottles would be appreciated. Thanks!

A:

Hi Robbie, Vintage Port is a traditional christening gift, as the wine is generally considered to approach maturity around 20 ish years, and the best ones only improve as they age for many years!  The 1991 Vintage is noted for its good ripe fruit character, which balances very well with the Dow's house style:  the wines are more approachable when young, but as the Port matures the concentration of fruit balances the typical Dow's dry and sometimes austere spiciness.  If you review the critics' tasting notes for the Dow's 1991 Vintage Port you will see they praise both its flavour profile and its structure and anticipate a long life, a classic Dow's.  Our head winemaker, Charles Symington, discusses how Vintage Port ages and the flavour profile matures in bottle in our article about the Lifecycle of Vintage Port.

If your case has been well-cellared since purchase, it should be in pristine condition, and well worth drinking, but there is no rush.  Very often, particularly with a gift case like this, it is traditional to open a bottle at milestones throughout your life - your coming of age, marriage or other high points that call for celebration and a very special bottle.  If you are not familiar with Port, you may want to look at our guidelines about Decanting and Serving Vintage Port.  We hope you will choose to enjoy your Vintage Port over the coming years.

Symington Family Estates are not active in the secondary market for Ports, so we are not well placed to advise you on the value of your case.  Your best bet is to consult a specialist wine merchant or an auction house that specialises in fine wines.  You can get an idea of prices in the secondary market from Berry Bros & Rudd's BBX service, or Liv-Ex which is a professional wine exchange.  You might also consult Wilkinson Vintners, who post a price list of wines which they broker within the trade, including many Vintage Ports.  Of course the selling prices on these services are different from the price the seller ultimately receives, which may only be roughly half - you will need to speak with any auctioneer, broker or re-seller about their particular terms and conditions and offer for your own case.

Another alternative to the auction house route is a private sale to a keen port lover. There are two internet chat forums devoted to Port: The Port Forum, which is UK based, and For The Love of Port, which is based in the USA. Both have a thoroughly international following, however. Registration is free on both sites

On The Port Forum, post your query in the Port Conversations chat room. If you take a look, there are a number of threads like this already posted, with members offering advice re how the wines are drinking, price levels, etc. Interest in buying is usually expressed via the private mail function on each site, rather than publicly in the thread.

On For The Love of Port, go to the chat thread Port & Madeira Marketplace to post your message – and do read the Marketplace Disclaimer notice.

Post a full description of the bottle or case, including exact wording on the label, and all the information you can about when and where the wine was acquired, and very importantly, how and where it has been stored.

Both of these forums are very friendly and helpful places, and the members are very knowledgeable and will offer candid advice.



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