Taylor’s is one of the most known and best Port wine houses, in particular when it comes to Vintage Port. Their style is on the powerful and spicy side, often with rather prominent tannins when the wines are young, and they often come across as less sweet than the Ports of many other houses. In recent times, they have also expanded their range with more vintage-dated Port wines in Tawny-style, following their purchase of Wiese & Krohn (mid-2013), which specialized in that style.
In late November, Taylor’s Swedish importer Vinunic invited to a tasting together with Jorge Ramos from Taylor’s. The last time I tasted a wider selection of Taylor’s Ports was late 2012.
2009 Taylor’s Late Bottled Vintage
Compact dark red colour with a lighter edge. Nose with concentrated red berries, liquorice, some tar, some stony minerality, and some impression of oak. The palate is sweet with ripe red berries together with some blackberries, good concentration, rather well embedded tannins, and a rather well embedded alcoholic note. Actually more red berry-styled than usual for a young Port, in particular in the nose, and comes across as rather “soft-styled” for a Taylor’s. This could be a hotter vintage making its character felt. Pleasant, 89 p.
Late Bottled Vintage (LBV) is the “little brother” of Vintage Port, and is ready to consume directly when sold.
Taylor’s 10 Year Old Tawny
Light red colour. Nose with dried red berries, some orange zest, leather, developed notes and some flowery notes. Sweet palate, ripe and dried red berries, quite a lot of strawberry notes and strawberry confiture, good acidity, some spices, mild tannins, some alcoholic notes, and a berry-dominated and sweet aftertaste. Definitely a pleasant wine, 90 p.
Taylor’s 20 Year Old Tawny
Pale red colour with orange edge. Nose with leather, dried red berries, dried yellow fruit, a slight smoky note, and clearly more developed than the 10 year old. The palate is sweet and more intense than the 10 year old with dried red berries, some caramel notes, noticeable spice, a light alcoholic note, and a long and berry-dominated aftertaste with some alcohol. More developed oxidation notes compared to the 10 year old, with some leather hints. Very pleasant, 91-92 p.
1997 Taylor’s Vintage Port
Tasted from magnum. Pale red edge, but still a dark core. The nose shows developed notes with tobacco, red berries, slatey-stony notes, some liquorice, and is noticeably flowery. Elegant and developed notes with fine nuances, the most flowery of the flight. Sweet palate with intense berry note of sweet dark blackberries, dark cherries, peppery notes and fairly softened tannins. A clearly nuanced nose that a really enjoyed, still rather young on the palate, so can take more cellaring, 93(+) p.
2000 Taylor’s Vintage Port
Tasted from half bottle. Elegant nose, could develop more, 93(+) p.
2003 Taylor’s Vintage Port
Tasted from magnum. Nose with ripe red and some dark berries including sweet blackberries, some sweet liquorice note, rather fruity and hot impression, and somewhat flowery. Sweet palate with good concentration, ripe and sweet dark berries, rather fiery, noticeably peppery, and the tannins make themselves felt. The hot vintage character is in evidence. Could develop more, 91(+)p.
Ports should definitely be powerful and is produced from grape with a good ripeness, but also in the Duoro Valley, the very hot 2003 vintage produced wines with less good balance than those from the best vintages.
2007 Quinta de Vargellas Vinha Velha
Nose with dark berries, some violets, liquorice, some pepper notes, some slatey-stony notes; a berry-dominated and rather flowery impression. The palate is sweet and quite intense with blackberries, liquorice, some peppery notes, powerful but well balanced tannins, violets and a berry-dominated aftertaste. A marvelous Port that unsurprisingly is still young, but already shows some nuances, 94(+) p
Many Quinta Ports from the major Port houses are vintage Ports that are produced in the “secondary vintages” when the house doesn’t produce a regular Vintage Port just carrying the house’s name. Taylor’s Quinta de Vargellas (without the “Vinha Velha” addition) and Quinta de Terra Feita are both that type of Ports, and they fall somewhere between LBV and Taylor’s Vintage Port in terms of price and quality. Quinta de Vargellas Vinha Velha, on the other hand, is a special version produced from old vines – vinha velha is Portuguese for “old vineyard” – about 80-120 years old, and is usually produced in the same vintages as Taylor’s Vintage Port.
2011 Taylor’s Vintage Port
Young nose that gives a “drier” impression than other Vintage Ports, blackberries, liquorice, some black pepper, a lot of slate and some powdered stone. It developed a lot more flowery notes with time in the glass. The palate is sweet and quite intense with blackberries, dark cherries, liquorice, well embedded alcoholic notes, pepper and noticeable but still embedded tannins. A marvelous Port, but young, 95+ p
2011 is a top-notch Port vintage! Yes, Vintage Port can be drunk already when young, at least by people who lack both patience and respect of traditions and customs. However, it is the greatness of mature Vintage Port that has made this type of wine famous! We’ll see how high the 2011s will reach when they are fully mature, and in which decade this happens… In any case, they will reach quite high!
1965 Taylor’s Single Harvest
Brown colour with a yellow edge. Nose with dried yellow fruit, toffee, hazelnuts, walnuts, spice notes with mild died spices and pepper, burnt sugar, and caramel. Madeira-like notes including some volatile acidity. Sweet palate with dried red berries and yellow fruit, caramel, burnt sugar, noticeably spicy, and with a good acidity. (The palate wasn’t as Madeira-like as the nose, since the acidity isn’t high enough.) Noticeably developed and quite good, 92-93 p.
A few weeks later I tasted the 1964 of te same wine at a Tawny tasting that I’ve blogged about here.
1863 Taylor’s Single Harvest
About the same colour as the 1965, but slightly paler. A big nose with burnt sugar, caramel, vanilla sugar (perhaps marshmallows?), walnuts, dried fruit, leather, and chocolate. A very intensive palate, tastes drier than the others, intense acidity, citrus notes, burnt sugar, spices, and a long and pleasant aftertaste. Quite fantastic, 96 p!
It is a unique experience tasting such an old wine, but it is a wine that is great “on its own merits”, no matter what its age! This wine shows a lot of vigour thanks to the combination of impressive concentration and very high acidity. To me and several others around the table, the 1863 was quite Madeira-like, but it should be pointed out that the Madeira specialist among us disagreed.