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November 15, 2022updated 27 Jun 2023 10:28am

Taylor’s Very Very Old Port: A masterpiece of cask ageing

By David Williams

David Williams tastes Taylor’s Very Very Old Port, the latest in an impressive series of releases that tap into the shipper’s remarkable stocks of long-aged Tawny Port.

The range of rare and long-aged Tawny Ports has expanded enormously in recent years, with shippers dipping into their stocks of old wines for some extraordinary Single Harvest and older blended releases, such as those bottled using the latest age designation to be given the Douro and Port Wine Institute’s official blessing earlier this year, 50 Year Old Tawny Port.

Managing those stocks as demand for rarities grows is going to test the logistical talents of Port shippers to the limit—although those shippers will no doubt prefer a situation in which too much demand is the challenge rather than too little.

Meanwhile, there is no sign yet that one of the foremost players in the development of the rare old Tawny Port market, Taylor’s, is close to exhausting its supplies of old Port. Having spent the past few years releasing a series of remarkable Single Harvest wines from vintages dating back as far as 1896, the shipper’s latest launch, Taylor’s Very Very Old Port, is an undated blend featuring components dating back to before World War II.

“Drawn from Taylor’s treasury of very, very old cask-aged reserves, this VVOP confirms Taylor’s place as a leader in the production of the finest cask-aged Ports of great age,” says Taylor’s managing director Adrian Bridge of the release of what he describes as a “masterpiece of cask aging.”

“The Taylor’s VVOP represents the legacy of ancestral knowledge passed down from one generation to the next; the skill of Taylor’s practiced team of coopers, who crafted the casks and maintained them over the years; the expertise of the cellar masters, who cared for the wine during the decades in wood; and the art of the blenders, who have given the VVOP its exceptional balance and finesse,” adds David Guimaraens, Taylor’s head winemaker.

Some 3,000 bottles of Taylor’s Very Very Old Tawny Port have been made. Bottled in a bespoke decanter and presented in an “elegant, luxury” wooden case, it has a recommended retail price of £750.

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Tasting Taylor’s Very Very Old Port

The double adjective inevitably raises a smile before a drop is poured, implying as it does a Spinal Tap “goes up to 11” one-upmanship over a mere Very Old, let alone Old, Tawny, and suggesting the future existence of a Very, Very, Very Old. The extra age is certainly visible in the glass: a conker-like rich glossy brown. On the nose and palate, too, we have aged notes of dense fruitcakey, figgy richness and sweet chestnut, ground coffee: like walking into an old-fashioned wood-panelled delicatessen. But there’s a thread of lifted young-fruited brightness, too, with citrus, and a touch of cinnamon-apple, and the palate is concentrated but not dense: it’s silky but airy, detailed, fresh, and agile; long, too. Enchanting. | 96

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