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Fonseca Guimaraens 2004 vintage port
In a nutshell: A second label vintage port now coming into its drinking window. Offers much of the magic of a ‘proper’ vintage port but at a much more reasonable price.
Vintage port is only made in the best years. Wines are aged for two years in cask and then bottled. A good vintage port will need 20 years in bottle before it’s ready to drink. The label will only have the name of the shipper and the year on it.
In lesser years, most firms produce single vintage ports which usually mature more quickly under a second label, in this case Fonseca Guimaraens. It’s a bit confusing – this is a wine from a particular vintage but it’s not strictly speaking a ‘vintage port’.
It gets its name from the Guimaraens family. Port houses tend to be divided into British, Portuguese and others. Just to confuse things, some port houses sound like they’re British but are actually Portuguese, and some sound Portuguese but are actually British. Fonseca is the latter.
It was founded by a Portuguese family in 1815. A Manuel Pedro Guimaraens joined in 1822 and the family took over entirely in 1863.
Following a period of political upheaval in Portugal, the family moved to London where they where they became thoroughly British. The firm is now owned by the Fladgate Partnership (Taylor’s) but the winemaker for the entire company is a certain David Guimaraens.
The company makes superb wines across the board, from the everyday Bin 27 to legendary vintage wines, the 2011 is likely to be a cult wine of the future.
The 2004 Guimaraens I’ve picked is drinking beautifully now. The nose has lots of spicy, dark fruit that’s still youthful, and on the palate it’s rich and round with a herbal perfume, and leather on the finish.
It will need decanting which means standing it up for a day, and then pouring into a jug or decanter slowly and steadily. It helps to do this over a lamp so you can see the sediment collected by the neck. Keep the sediment as it’s handy for adding richness to gravy.
This is a very special port that would be good at the end of a meal with a blue cheese like stilton, as well as mature cheddar.
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