2011 Vintage Port – General Declaration of a Classic Vintage

by Charles Lea

2011 Vintage Port – General Declaration of a Classic Vintage

Port vintages are only ‘declared’ by the shippers/producers when the quality is deemed to be on the very best, and often they do not agree. The 2011 has brought a unanimity seldom seen, and as Jancis Robinson titled her article these are ‘The best 2011 reds anywhere’.

With Vintage Port representing such an infinitesimal part of the total Port and Douro table wine production, but being the focus of so much critical attention, the houses are all vying with each other to make a noteworthy effort, not only for the sales of these rare vintage wines themselves, but so the other wines in their portfolios can bask in reflected glory. The result is a delight of fantastic wines which are offered to you well below the level of anything of remotely comparable quality in the big names of Bordeaux (for example).

Thinking of Vintage Port inevitably brings Patrick even closer to mind, so for sentimental reasons we are particularly happy to be able to offer a really memorable Sandeman Vintage this year, of which Jancis writes ‘clearly a lot of effort has gone into this’. Patrick always did his best to encourage the consumption of Vintage Port, and wrote something about the 2007s which has lost none of its relevance today:

‘The next question is whether one needs to buy and lay down vintage port at all in this day and age… Well, if like me you think that a dinner party is only a dinner party if you climax with a decanter of vintage port or two (otherwise it is only really a supper party), or if like me you decant a bottle of vintage port every Friday night during the months of November and December to drink over the week-end, then you will need at least two dozen bottles a year, and assuming that there is only one great vintage every four years, you should be buying at least eight dozen bottles! Equally, if you are of the camp that ‘no longer drinks port because it gives me a hangover’, then you too should be laying down some port for when you learn to drink less before and during dinner, and appreciate something exceptional at the end of the evening. Finally, of course there are the (2011) babes whose God-parents, aunts and uncles, and parents should be buying at least two cases of six bottles (one to sell to help pay for the gap year in eighteen years time, the other to drink).’

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