Historic landmark tasting

On Tuesday 23rd March an extraordinary Port event was held in London. A group of people who are serious appreciators of Port organised a tasting of no less than 29 Graham’s Vintage and Graham’s Malvedos Vintage Ports at a club in Piccadilly and invited me to attend. This group are connected to ‘ThePortForum.com’, one of the most active Port sites on the web. Many of the Vintage Ports tasted came from people’s own private cellars, although we at Graham’s provided some of the Malvedos wines that they had been unable to locate. Some of the tasters had travelled from Germany and one well known Port lover, again an active member of one of the best Port sites, had come especially from Los Angeles for the event. Their generosity in inviting me and Richard Mayson, who was also present, was notable.

We started with a quite magnificent Graham’s 1955 Vintage Port, one of the best wines of the last 50 years and then tasted most of the Malvedos Vintage Ports that have been made since the Malvedos 1957. The tasting was divided into two flights with a break for a wholesome and traditional British dinner. The final wine tasted was a cask sample of Quinta dos Malvedos 2008 Vintage Port that I had carried over from Portugal especially for the tasting.

I joined my family in our Port Company over thirty years ago and I can say that very seldom have I attended such a fascinating and extensive tasting covering Vintage Ports produced over 6 decades (1955-2008). I was able to bring with me a collection of personal notes and recollections written about each harvest by my grandfather Maurice, by my great-uncles Ron and John, by my father Michael and by myself and by various of my cousins at the time that each of these wines was made. These notes helped to put each wine in context as they record the concerns and views written exactly at the time that these wines were being made. My family have been Port producers since the 19th century (since the 17th century through my great-grandmother), but Graham’s was acquired by my family in 1970. So the wines made before 1970 were made by the Graham family. But my family’s personal notes prior to this date are still relevant as they record what each Douro harvest was like.

This was an extraordinary tasting with wines such as the 1957, 1965, 1986 and 1998 Malvedos showing superbly well, with their characteristic complexity and elegance. These wines will continue to age superbly for years to come. For comparison purposes, the hosts had provided the Declared Graham’s Vintage Ports of 1955, 1970, 1985 and 2003. In my humble opinion, they were all showing outstandingly well, and are classics for each respective year. One taster was kind enough to say that this tasting showed once again that Graham’s has a consistency of great Ports over many decades that is hard to match. I returned to Portugal with this comment to pass onto all our team here.

My thanks to Derek Turnbull and all his team for a truly great tasting.
Paul Symington
24 March 2010