As Lyndon B Johnson was flinging thousands of US troops into Vietnam, Dick van Dyke was Chim-Chimeny-ing his way to being recognized as having the worst Cocker-ny accent ever and Robert Downy Jr and JK Rowling were both pooping in their nappies for the first time, a pack of Portuguese pickers were pulling grapes off vines.

Then, this Christmas Day, half a century later, I pulled a bottle of port made from those grapes out of a wooden box to drink with my father in law and it made me realize, for the umpteenth time, how ridiculously wonderful port is.

Even if you forget about the fact that this is a drink that is fifty years old, has lived through man going to the moon, the entire history of the internet, both Thatcher and Blair in number 10 and all seven of the Star Wars films, the real reason that this wine is amazing is the fact that it lost over a third of it’s liquid through a faulty cork and still tasted delicious.

It wasn’t as if this bottle had been badly stored – only released earlier in it’s 50th year, it had slumbered away for its entire life in Krohn’s cellar in Portugal. After they had been released, it became apparent that some of the corks were leaking quicker than the dialect coach on Mary Poppins was scarpering after he had received his cheque for his work with van Dyke.

This had resulted in a recall of the wine, but being a port buff, I thought I’d ignore the recall and see how it was faring. We aren’t talking dairy products here, old knackered wine will never kill you, it will only disappoint so I wasn’t playing Russian Roulette with it. I’ve had numerous old leaky wines that have been fine, as well as a few that haven’t, and that is just the risk you take with old wines. You will never have a consistent quality with old bottles of wine, proving the old saying ‘there is no such thing as a great old wine – there are only great bottles of wine’ and the equally appropriate quote that sometimes ‘**** happens’ are both true.

With this bottle, the aforementioned **** certainly did happen. Finding that the bottle was a third empty, I hauled out the cork… well, tried to at least. It disintegrated when pressure was applied and I had to filter it to remove the chunks of tree now floating in the wine. It went straight into a decanter, and left for a couple of hours, but once open, boy, was it tasty.

Super elegance, delicate fruit aromas including cherries, blackberries, dark toffee, anise and cinnamon. The palate was soft, a slight alcohol spike, but otherwise so gentle. No tannin to speak of, exceptionally pretty fruit and hints of boozy Christmas cake coming through. It really was a delightful bottle of wine.

Due to this leaking cork, I expected it to be a bit past its prime – washed up and a shadow of its former self. Like Robert Downey Jr, with whom this port shares its year of birth, it has been through its battles and come out triumphant and better than ever. Now I have to get one that hasn’t leaked to see how it tastes.

We are taking pre-orders for this wine. If you fancy giving it a shot, click here to purchase one.

December 29, 2015 — Peter Wood

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