life.art.commerce. The Blog

First Taste: Scion Pre-Phylloxera Port

In art., commerce., life.art.commerce. on April 19, 2011 at 10:54 am
As the room of tasters, a veritable varsity squad of New York wine writers, took their respective places, the publicist for Portuguese port house,Taylor Fladgate, announced that this was a first: not a single invitation offered to the morning’s event had been declined. It wasn’t out of courtesy. The 17th-century port purveyor was here at Manhattan’s Eleven Madison Park to taste through its line-up of vintage and tawny ports, culminating in a rare treat, an 1855 pre-Phylloxera port called Scion.

Christie’s Head of Wine-Asia, Charles Curtis MW, made some opening remarks about Taylor Fladgate, port wine and the auction market before handing the host duties over to Adrian Bridge. The CEO of Taylor Fladgate, Bridge cut an English gentleman’s mien as he guided the assembled group through such bottlings as a vintage 1992 (sweet and earthy with slightly tannic finish), vintage 2003 (like a big Cabernet, with dark fruit and a huge nose) and a 30-year-old tawny (fig cookie, bitter orange and lightly floral).

But the main event was Scion. The story goes that a Duoro family had kept, and passed down through several generations, a special stash of port casks. When the last remaining descendant passed away in 2009, her estate approached Taylor Fladgate regarding the wine. Initially Taylor eyed it for blending into their 40-year-old tawny, but upon discovering how well the contents had stood the test of time, they earmarked it for release (at $3,200). So what does a century-and-a-half do for the aging of a wine? In this case, a lot (which was a shock). The mouthfeel, while very soft, still held up, thanks to the presence of noticeable acidity. The color was a deep, ruddy copper, and both fruit and spice could still be found within. Bridge offered that the particular blend of varieties in this port, or the fact that it was kept on higher ground next to a cool stone wall, could account for its surprisingly lively character.And it goes without saying that the time to drink this release is now. Right now.

by Michael B. Dougherty
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