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Happy Anniversary with Croft 1991 Vintage Port

Croft 1991 Port labelIt’s Mature Times’ twentieth anniversary. And what better way to celebrate than by opening a bottle of port of the same vintage – Croft 1991 Vintage to be exact. Let’s see if it has matured as nicely.

Adrian Bridge MD CroftVintage port is “very like a human”, according to Adrian Bridge (picture left), MD of Croft Port, “when young there is a lot of energy and noise. Only as it ages and matures does it ultimately figure out it’s not all about making the biggest noise.”

“It’s the subtle nuances that create interesting characters”. And describing the now twenty-year old 1991 Vintage port he explained these manifest themselves as cigar box, leather, smoke and spice aromas and flavours.

But they didn’t start out that way.

Croft 1991 VintageAt the time of its bottling, two years after it was made, the Croft 1991 tasted of intense blackberry, blackcurrant and plum. Aging in the bottle and the addition of neutral grape spirit – which classifies port as a fortified wine and ups the alcohol level to 20.5% - softens these big noises into lighter notes of strawberry, raspberry and pine needles.

This power to age into a multi-layered post-dinner drink that “oils the conversation” was recognised by Croft's tasting panel and turned what should have been a standard port into a Vintage port – a port from an exceptional year of exceptional quality that sells for a premium.

Once a Vintage has been ‘declared’ both the port industry’s regulatory body, the Instituto dos Vinhos do Douro e Porto, is notified and the other port ‘houses’ owned by different companies then also decide whether their ports from that year are worthy of a Vintage.

In this case they didn’t. Taylor’s and Fonseca (both part of the Fladgate Partnership along with Croft) decided to declare 1992 a Vintage year instead. This ‘split Vintage’ is a very rare occurrence and some cynics might point out that it may have had something to do with 1992 also being Taylor’s 300th birthday.

But the proof is the tasting. A recent review by Decanter magazine of 25 Vintage ports from across 1991 and 1992 found very little difference – the 1991s averaged 14.44 points out of 20 and the 1992s 16.19 points out of 20.

So pick your Vintage and make your choice.

A bottle of the Croft 1991 will cost £64.95 from Roberson or £52.69 from The DrinkShop.com.

And if you don’t get round to opening the bottle this Christmas don’t worry, the 1991 still has the power to age for another 10 to 15 years.

Christmas ports has more information on ports and reviews.

This article has also appeared as Paula's Wines of the Week on MatureTimes.co.uk.