The latest copy of The Wine Advocate just landed with Neal Martin’s tasting note for 1863, he has given it an outstanding 98 points

Published by William Frazier on 3rd Sep 2014

We have one left of these unique bottles.

Taylor's Single Harvest Port 1863

“I cannot remember the last time I encountered such a jaw-dropping drop of alcohol as Taylor’s 1863 Single Harvest Tawny Port. Since I was overseas for its launch, managing director Adrian Bridge kindly sent me a half-bottle, which was given a couple of weeks to recover in the fridge, next to the anti-bacterial yogurt and Japanese tonkatsu sauce, both disbelieving the sell-by date of this temporary occupant. Then I allowed the sample to gradually warm up for tasting, sharing the remainder with a couple of oenophiles, not just because of my boundless generosity, but because I was so keen to gauge their reaction vis-a-vis mine. Indeed, one experienced imbiber was a mere 140 years out when he guessed the vintage. That gives you an indication of how this 1863 performed. Let’s gather a little background information first.

The release of this 1863 came about after Taylor Fladgate acquired Weise & Krohn last year. Weise & Krohn were actually selling the 1863 in a pack that included an 1896. Taylor’s decided that the 1863 deserved its own individual bottling, thereby neatly serving as a follow-up to the successful Scion. As you might guess, luxury packaging is part of the deal and the 1863 Tawny has been issued across the world in 1,600 velvet-lined crystal decanters in maple burl veneer. Of course, this begs the question whether it should be sold as Weise & Krohn or as Taylor’s? I can see both sides of the argument, but in those days, all Port wines were sourced from dozens of growers and so perhaps whether it is Weise & Krohn or Taylor’s is a moot point. It is what it is.

And what it is, is a time-defying pre-phylloxera humdinger that’ll knock your socks off. Simply pouring the wine, I noticed how deep and clear the color was, the intoxicating sumptuous aromas filling the room long before I had put nose near glass. We find extravagant and luscious aromas of blackberries, black plum, camphor, rosemary, iris, caraway seed and walnut, fig jam, a quite extraordinary and heady bouquet. The palate follows suit with a sumptuous, quasi-viscous texture that instantly seduces the senses. It comes armed with a sweet and candied core of black and red fruit, yes fruit, because there is astonishingly little degradation here. It is a powerful and flamboyant tawny with quince and marmalade, later cloves, raisin and dried fig on the long flowing finish. It has such youth and vigor that part of me wondered whether I should be parsimonious with my score. Aren’t such antiquarians supposed to get old and offer secondary, third and fourth evolutionary aromas and flavours?

Perhaps like some readers, I speculated as to whether it had been given a little “rejuvenation” during its life. Adrian Bridge’s reply not only quashed that idea but went some way in explaining why it comes across so vivaciously in analytical terms.

“The 1863 has not been topped up to our knowledge and the records from W&K also do not record any. It was kept in two casks in a locked cage at their warehouse in Serpa Pinto here in Gaia. This wine was the great pride and joy of the Falcao Carneiro family and they only decided to release it having seen the success of Scion. Jose Falcao Carneiro is a very serious person and I believe that the special point about this wine was that it came from 1863 whereas the Weise & Krohn was founded in 1865. So the wine may well have been among the first that was purchased by the company’s founders. Certainly the lodge where it was kept has been rented by W&K since 1880. The wine is very dense with the very developed rim of olive color, which is always the indication of a very old tawny. It is also viscous with residual sugar at 224-grams per liter. The Baume is 10.3 and the pH is 3.53. Lead levels are high at 330 parts per billion but this would be expected from old Ports due to movement through brass fitting in the old days.”

So we must doff our caps and bow before a fortified wine that never fully relinquished its flush of youth. If the Scion was Katherine Hepburn, this is Jane Russell. The 1863 Tawny is a Port from another time and another world, but whose pleasure is with us today”

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