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Value of Old Ports

February 14, 2012
Question by: Ellis, Stourbridge, GB

Q:

I am trying to establish the worth of some vintage port: (2) Niepoort 1952, one 1959, also (5) bottles S V Borges & Irmao Oporto Alto Douro 1963.  Many thanks.

A:

Hi Ellis,   Symington Family Estates are not active in the secondary market for Vintage Port, so we are unable to advise you on possible valuations for your bottles.  As regards the vintages, as you will see from our Viticultural reports, 1952 was generally not declared except a few quinta vintages.  Look again at that Niepoort 1952 - does the label say "Vintage Port" or could it possibly be one of their "Garrafeira" wines?  These are aged and bottled rather differently from true Vintage Ports.  1959 was a disappointing year in the Douro and no Vintage Ports were declared, so again, I doubt that your bottle is a true Vintage Port, but pehaps some other style.  Could it be a Colheita, which is a tawny style of port, a wine from a single harvest which has aged for years in small wooden casks before bottling?  1963 on the other hand, was a legendary year for Vintage Ports.

As far as valuing and possibly selling your wines, your best bet is to contact one of the major auction houses that routinely handle vintage wines, and ask their advice about the value and saleability of your ports, such as Bonham's, Christie's or Sotheby's.  Another option in the UK is to consult Berry Bros & Rudd who have the BBX wine exchange, an on-line trading service.  Whilst that service is for wines which have been held in bond with them, the listings will you give you a sense of pricing, and they may be able to advise you further if you contact them directly.

Be aware, any one who might broker or purchase your wines will want more information about when and where the bottles were acquired and most importantly, how they have been cellared since acquisition.  To learn a bit more about this, you may want to consult two other articles on The Vintage Port Site:  one about Storing Vintage Port, and the other about Purchasing Vintage Port which gives the buyer's perspective on the risks of buying wine in the secondary market or at auction.



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