Calgary Wine Life: Taylor Fladgate 1966 Single Harvest Port Release

17 02 2016

There are tastings and there are TASTINGS; this one deserves capitalization.  To celebrate the impending release of Taylor Fladgate’s 1966 Single Harvest Port to the Alberta market (coming next month to a store near you!), this 50 year-old wine was opened up at a special release event this afternoon along with its older siblings the 1964 and 1965.  153 combined years of Port later, I had a good day.

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By way of quick refresher, Port is a fortified wine made from (usually) a blend of grapes grown in the Douro region in northern Portugal.  The grapes are crushed and at first fermented just like dry table wine, but halfway through the fermentation, when there is still considerable sugar left in the grape juice that has yet to be converted to alcohol, the juice is spiked with 70% abv grape brandy, which kills the yeast, stops the fermentation and (obviously) increases the alcohol level of the now-finished wine, resulting in a sweet, fruity, 20-ish% abv Port.  All Port is made in this way, but how each Port ends up looking, smelling and tasting after you open the bottle depends largely on how it is matured.

Ruby Ports, blends from multiple vintages made for early consumption, get a couple of years of barrel age and are bottled young and fruity.  Vintage Ports, single-year wines released only in top years, get a similar barrel treatment but are so dense and concentrated that they are intended to age for years or decades in bottle before they are opened.  Tawny Ports, also multi-year blends, are aged oxidatively in barrels until they are ready for release, with air exposure leading to their brownish colour, mellow texture and nutty, caramel-y flavours. The Port Wine Institute only allows Tawny Ports to be bottled with an age designation of 10, 20, 30 or 40 Years, with the number denoting the average age of the wines in the blend.

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When a Tawny Port is made from grapes of a single year’s harvest, it is known as a Colheita, a single vintage Tawny.  “Colheita” (pronounced “Kohl-YAY-tah”) is the Portuguese word for “harvest”, and to obtain this designation, any one-year Tawny must be aged at least 7 years in barrel before bottling.  Taylor Fladgate, thanks to a fortuitous acquisition of another Port house with significant back-vintage reserves, started a program three years ago for the annual release of a special Very Old Single Harvest (Colheita) Port on its 50th anniversary.  In 2014 they released the 1964 Colheita, followed by the 1965 in 2015 and now this year’s 1966.  If you know anybody celebrating a 50th birthday or anniversary in 2016, I know what you can get them. Read the rest of this entry »





Whisky Advent Calendar: Day 24

24 12 2014

Well, the stockings have been hung by the natural gas fireplace with care, and I have officially completed whisky Advent.  Thanks to all those of you who have read along to date – I can quite confidently say that you will not be seeing a post on PnP tomorrow, so enjoy this one!  The KWM Whisky Advent Calendar comes to a close with a bang, delivering the promised 40 year old dram in the form of Glenfarclas’ 40 Year Highland Single Malt.  This scotch comes with a $720 price tag (actually a strong value for the age of the whisky involved) and with a number of critical accolades, having been hailed Whisky of the Year by Malt Advocate.  It’s Glenfarclas’ second appearance in the calendar; it previously tried to destroy your mind with its 60% abv bottling Glenfarclas 105 on Day 6.

The one you've been waiting for.  First calendar whisky older than me.

The one you’ve been waiting for. First calendar whisky older than me.

The GF 40 certainly delivers, albeit not in a way that will embed itself on your psyche for years (or even weeks) afterward.  It is a deep amber in colour, although not deep enough to immediately give away that it has spent four decades in a barrel.  The aromas are mellow and meandering, maple syrup and marzipan, smoke, apple cider and Meyer lemon.  It is soft and warming on the palate, opening up discernibly with a couple drops of water and featuring a complex yet subtle array of flavours:  honey, vanilla and florals, orange zest, green grapes, dark rum and a dry heated wood note I can best describe as “sauna”.  It isn’t life-changing, but it’s extremely well put-together, an experience to drink if not a lasting memory. Read the rest of this entry »








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