Fonseca Port - Feb 2011
A Magnificent Tasting Spanning 40 Years Of Fonseca Vintage Port
The thought of a glass of fine vintage port sipped by the fire is not just a Victorian gentleman’s dream. In this deep winter tasting, we cannot supply the fire (though a cardboard facsimile may be made available for those who find it indispensable to complete the experience), but we can provide soul-warming vintage ports to consider and relish. Few Port houses exhibit the consistent excellence that Fonseca brings to the table. Since the early 1900’s Fonseca has been a top scorer in virtually every declared vintage. Massive flavour concentration, complexity and elegance are the best descriptors for this marque. Fonseca was originally a very small Port shipper operating under the name of Fonseca, Monteiro & Co. in the early 19th century. In 1822, under new ownership of Manuel Pedro Guimaraens, the name changed to Fonseca Guimaraens. The corporation was sold to Taylor, Fladgate Yeatman in 1948 and Fonseca now competes head to head with its stable mate Taylor.
It is remarkable that for 96 years there were really only two Fonseca Guimaraens portmakers; Frank and Bruce Guimaraens. A third portmaker, Dorothy Guimaraens came on the scene briefly in 1955 after her father Frank passed and before Bruce took up the responsibility. The current portmaker is David Guimaraens, Bruce’s son. We are lucky to have extraordinary examples from David and Bruce including David’s 1994 vintage, an extraordinary wine that was awarded 100 points by the Wine Spectator, and named their Wine Of The Year in 1997 (upon release)! Plums, cherries and mocha are the most common aroma and flavor descriptors in Fonseca “port-speak”. A lush mouth feel texture that is so smooth it reminds one of liquid butterscotch is also a common thread.
As port wines are higher in alcohol than our usual table wines, there will be no mystery wine at this tasting. I can almost hear the uncontrolled wailing of our members at this news. To placate the unruly crowd we have two bottlings of the rare and famous 1966 vintage (WS97). One set is English bottled, the other bottled at Fonseca, in Portugal. The 1966 will be followed by the feminine and delicate 1980, which should show us the softer side of the powerful style of Fonseca in a vintage that was not declared by all shippers. The beautiful 1985 finishes our visit to the eighties. Port expert and reviewer Roy Hersh remarked, “I’ve had this Fonseca so many times that I question my sanity on opening more, but it is just such a pleasure packed port. (96+ points)” If we are to love Robert Parker scores, the 1992 we are pouring is certainly a favourite at 97 points. The 100 point 1994 is an auspicious first effort for David Guimaraens. This wine is lush, youthful and dense with classic Fonseca grip and structure. The 2003 vintage offers us a look at a young port with great balance and finesse and surprising approachability (RP96). Our last wine is quintessential Fonseca in its youth. The 2007 is massively fruity with complexities of black fruit, mint, coffee and exotic woods (RP96).
Please click here to open a pdf version of the tasting description if you wish to mail in your reservation.
As always with our tastings, this event will be strictly non-smoking, and we request your cooperation in not wearing any scented after-shave or perfume.