The preeminent Port house Taylor Fladgate has released an extremely limited 1964 Single Harvest Tawny Port, the first in an annual series of 50-year-old wines set to roll out in the next few years. What makes this highly collectable Port so special? Unlike “ruby” Ports, which are aged in bottles and retain their fruity flavor and dark purple color, tawny Ports are aged in wooden casks. This gives them more exposure to the air and creates an amber-colored Port with a nutty flavor. And while most Ports are blended to achieve the best taste, this Port is perfect all by itself and comes from a single harvest.
Made with Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Barroca, Tinta Roriz, Tinto Cão and Tinta Amarela grapes, this 1964 Port started its life in the Douro Valley of Portugal and was made the old fashioned way — a tradition Taylor Fladgate continues to this day.
In September, the grapes are hand picked, placed in granite treading tanks known as lagares, and then trodden by foot. The treaders thoroughly crush the grapes to release the juice and pulp from the skins, and then move around keeping the grape skins submerged.
A few hours later, fermentation begins. This produces heat and alcohol, which releases the color, tannins and aroma from the grape skins. Once half of the juice’s natural sugar has turned into alcohol, the fortification process begins. Skins are allowed to rise, and the wine below is run into a vat. Then a young wine brandy of 77 percent alcohol is added, which increases the strength of the wine, killing the yeast and stopping fermentation. This preserves some of the natural sweetness from the grapes, which is evident in the finished wine. As the wine ages, the spirit and the wine combine to create the subtle complexity of a mature Port.
The Taylor Fladgate 1964 Single Harvest Tawny is beautifully balanced with a pale mahogany color and olive-amber highlights. The nose has fine oaky aromas and complex spicy, nutty, cigar box notes against a warm mellow background of butterscotch and molasses. The smooth, velvety palate is lifted by a crisp acidity, and the long finish is characterized by lingering rich, spicy, black pepper flavors.
The Port comes attractively packaged in a wooden box. Suggested retail price: $300. Imported by Kobrand Corporation, Purchase, NY. For more information, visit www.taylor.pt/en/.