Saturday, 5 February 2011
General high spirits and the start of the Six Nations had put me in the mood for some scientific investigatin’.
Some time ago I had committed to a blind comparison of Cheap vs Expensive port, a wine style that I have drunk very little of and which has never tickled me. And my lunching companion's unashamed declaration of her preference for sticky-sweet wine seemed as good an excuse as any for a first foray into the world of double-decanting.
Up for review were a frankly weird-looking bottle of M&S "Special Reserve PORT DECANTER", which I reckoned at (a generous) £10, and one of my own 1985 Fonsecas.
'85 was very highly rated in its day with decent summer sun and no rain meaning that pretty well every major house declared a vintage. Tastings since then however have divided opinion.
My first discovery of the evening came with the confirmation of the much-debated hypothesis that scientific rigour has a strong inverse correlation to the amount of alcohol consumed. Which meant that this particular experiment ended up being conducted non-blind, blindfolded and blind drunk.
Still... I've often had fun in that kind of situation before...
Despite these impediments it was immediately apparent which was the quality product. The first wine tasted more like wine gums than many wine gums do. Brazenly jammy and no length- a neat trick in a Willy Wonker-ish way, but not worth worrying about.
Wine number two had more on the nose; liquorice, toasted wood and maybe blackberries. In the mouth there was noticeable structure and some drying tannins. Less sweet and better balanced, but the real giveaway was an astounding long warming damson finish. Lovely stuff. Continuing a well-established tradition of voicing opinion on matters that I know feck-all about; I'd say this was a little closed at the moment but not dying, a good thick fruit flavour and firm tannins hinting nicely at future potential.
Our Lady Friend also picked it without hesitation. 'Though the Russian, who though no wine snob normally has a reasonable palate, immediately declared the M&S number to be the superior wine. And needless to say we were happy enough for him to be the tick-eating bird in this particular symbiotic ménage.