Wine Review: Taylor Fladgate 325th Anniversary Limited Edition Port

9 01 2018

Happy New Year!  Pop & Pour returns after a lengthy and dearly needed post-Wine-and-Whisky-Advent break with a bottle that would have graced this page last year but for the 49 other calendar-based things that had to do so in December instead.  Rest assured that the delay is no commentary on what’s in the bottle.  2017 would have been a preferable year to write up Taylor Fladgate’s 325th Anniversary special-release Tawny Port, if for no other reason than that it was the actual year of the 325th anniversary in question, thanks to Taylor’s founding way back in 1692.  Thankfully, the juice is just as delicious in 2018, and there are still a number of stores in town that have stock remaining (though this Limited Edition is sold out at the import agent level, so act fast if you want some!).

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Happy (belated) anniversary, Taylor Fladgate!  We’re back!!

Unlike most fancy commemorative releases from leading lights in the world of wine, Taylor Fladgate has done something daring and remarkable and borderline audacious with this celebratory flask:  it has made it accessible to the drinking audience at large.  Rather than building this one-off Tawny from ultra-rarified sources and then pricing it into the stratosphere (which it could easily have done, and quite successfully), it instead opted to take the top component lots of wines otherwise destined for its 10 through 40 Year Tawny lineup, blend them to about a 15 Year average, then age them together for 18 months so that it could release this (utterly spectacular looking) bottle at a shade below $50 retail.  Taylor intended this to be celebratory and drinkable at large, a monument for the masses, a conversation piece rather than a museum piece.  If this does not instantly become the next birthday gift you want to buy for the wine lover in your life, I worry for you.

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I will restrain myself to two other cool facts about this landmark Wine For The People.  First, the squat gourd-like bottle shape is a replica of the late 17th century sealed bottle that would have been in use to hold and market Taylor’s Port back at the time of its founding, right down to its embossed mercantile logo.  Second, part of the release of this anniversary wine involved sailing a cask of it from the Douro to London by boat in a recreation of the first-ever shipment of Port to its prior primary market.  The boat in question may have been a little more aerodynamic than 1692 editions, but it was wind-powered all the way.  There were white wigs involved and everything.

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Much of the coverage of this wine speaks of its dark tawny brown colour, but my bottle at least had plenty of ruby left in its colouring, just fading to garnet at the rim but with none of the orange/amber/brown tones found in older Tawny Ports, which is consistent with the average age of the contents inside.  The delectable and varied nose is classic Tawny through and through, sticky toffee pudding and molasses lifted by blackberry, plum, sultana and orange fruit and laced throughout with baking spices, with some dark florals and pure grape emerging at the end.  Deft, rich and balanced, the Port’s expected brown sugar and butterscotch sweetness is offset by juicy red and black fruit and particularly by the wine’s notable structure, in the form of both spry acidity and surprisingly tongue-coating tannin.  High-toned maple and icing sugar flavours play off base notes of blueberry, black licorice and violets on an elongated and warming finish.

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Cork Rating:  8.5/10 (This is a boss without even trying super hard.  Indented top-border letters put it over the top.)

The relative youth of this Tawny works in its favour here, giving it a life and vibrancy that older renditions tend to lose without sacrificing much in the way of complexity.  This is about as good as packaging, presentation and product can get in Port for under $50, and is a worthy bearer of Taylor Fladgate’s traditional seal.  Here’s to 325 more incredible years!

92 points

$45 to $50 CDN

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