Ports from the 1960s


From $120, £75, €115 a bottle

Find Warre's 1960
Find Taylor's Single Harvest 1964 (to be launched Jan 2014)
Find Cálem Colheita 1961
Find a Niepoort Colheita port

This is a luxurious but broad recommendation. Good quality port is one of the longest-living wines we can buy. If you're a fan of vintage port it really does make sense to age it for decades if you can – or at least to hunt down trustworthy sources of seriously senior examples. There was a time a few years ago when the likes of Oxbridge colleges and London gentlemen's clubs were selling off their port stocks as though they had some terrible contagious disease, so I wish you well in tracking down some of these bottles.

Vintage port from the 1960s is now at its delicious peak, preferably from the vintage celebrating its half century, 1963, but neither the rather more delicate 1966s nor 1960s are to be sniffed at. I had a chance to taste Warre's 1960 for the first time recently and was hugely impressed. As well as still having admirable sweetness and concentration, it seemed to have more than whiff of the wildness and richness of a fine Quinta do Noval Nacional about it. (See my Christmas Eve article on Quinta do Noval tasted in situ.) According to wine-searcher.com you can buy Warre's 1960 by the single bottle from quite a wide variety of retailers in both the UK and US.

Purple Pagers may like to put 'port' and each of these three 1960s vintages in our tasting notes search box to see our many tasting notes on these vintage ports.

Such a search will also yield notes on quite a few Colheita ports grown in the 1960s. These are ports that, unlike vintage ports which have been bottled at about two years old and have done all their ageing in bottle, are the produce of a single year but have done their ageing in cask, so tend to have a tawny, sometime almost greenish gold, colour and can sometimes have a whiff of high-toned, almost treacle toffee rancio about them. Instead of being mellow, jewelly and raisiny, as really mature vintage port is, colheita ports are more likely to taste of walnuts, balsam, toffee and even coffee grounds.

There has recently been a distinct increase in interest in these old tawnies – as witness, for instance, Richard's article a year ago A tale of two tawnies. The Fladgate Partnership (Taylor, Fonseca et al) recently snapped up the tawny specialist Wiese & Krohn from the family who had nurtured their superb stocks for generations. Being commercially creative, they are now planning to release small quantities of 50-year-old examples of what, avoiding the V-word, they call Single Harvest ports, every January – just in time for half-century celebrations.

The first in the series is& Taylor's 1964 Single Harvest Port which, they say, from next month 'will be offered to markets across the world. It will be presented in a classic Taylor's frosted bottle, and packaged in a high-quality beechwood box, with a recommended retail price of £150 a bottle. Around 2,000 bottles will be available.' I was sent a test tube (in a high-quality beechwood box – Portugal clearly still has many craftsmen') to taste and enjoyed it a lot.

Even more delicious and interesting was a Colheita port from the 1960s from the Portuguese tawny specialists Sogevinus who own Barros, Burmester, Cálem and Kopke. Cálem Colheita 1961 was very fine and complex and can be found from several European retailers, especially in Portugal of course.

I'd also advise you to seek out any Niepoort Colheita port. This family company has also specialised in this style and has wonderful stocks. Wine-searcher.com can offer a wide range of years back to the 1960s and beyond. I recently tasted and loved the 1952.

Vintage port throws a massive deposit after years in bottle and needs decanting but Colheita/Single Harvest ports have left all their sediment in cask so are bottled when ready to drink and can be poured straight from the bottle.

Find Warre's 1960
Find Taylor's Single Harvest 1964 (to be launched in Jan 2014)
Find Cálem Colheita 1961
Find a Niepoort Colheita port