by Zoltan Szabo

Rupert Symington presents Port in Toronto, November 2010

I had the rare and perhaps the one-in-a-life-time opportunity of tasting a century of Ports last night at The Wine Bar on Church (formerly Jamie Kennedy’s).

Rupert Symington, from the great old Port making family, is a walking – encyclopedia of history and traditions when it comes to Port, has conducted an eye – opening presentation, emphasizing the fact that “Port is made in the vineyards and finished in city of Porto”. He held a fluent and information – packed session, speaking with suave accent and dressed in proper business attire with British elegance.

Port is one of the most complex and concentrated wines in the world, made from half kilogram of fruit per vine, in a really low rainfall area with stressed plants with no irrigation permitted.

Tasting notes…

Croft 1927
A legendary vintage of the twentieth century, spicy, herbal – mint and fig aromas and flavours, just passing its prime yet carrying historic value and winemaking heritage, a truly outstanding Port, I was thanking my lucky stars for the opportunity of being able to savouring it.

Sandeman 1934
It did have a tiny touch of TCA, but it was quickly blowing off, giving way to a smooth texture and persistent finish.

Sandeman 1935
Unreal how great, absolutely outstanding, eucalyptus and nutmeg nuances, and lively beyond believe.

Graham 1948
Big colour, spicy, earthy, dates and prunes, sweet, young and fresh, brilliant.

Taylor 1955
Lots of colour, almost closed, powerful yet so much elegance to it, my hat off, long time ahead of it, still.

Delaforce 1963
Made in a year when much of the recovery of the Port business in the British market was fully on, spicy with intriguing funk, barn, gamey notes.

Croft 1966
Powerful yet so pretty, sweet and just like biting in a piece of Christmas cake, wonderful density and lusciousness here.

Graham 1970
You kidding me…?! My birth year, this wine is so very young, is still in formation, with fresh cherry and cherry pit aromas and flavours, fresh, just superb.“It’s a child, just like you, Zoltan” said Tony Aspler.

Warre 1977
Dried herbs and rose petals, despite its light colour there’s marvelous complexity and  long time ahead of it. “James Suckling went bananas” over this, says Symington.

Cockburn 1983
Exotic, big and tannic, can go for decades, impressive indeed.

Dow 1994
Sweet, rich, soft and hot, so much going on here, integrated yet can go for ages.

Niepoort 2007
Huge colour, very vinous, mulberry – boysenberry flavours, a tannin – packed powerhouse, a sexy beast with a century to go on.

What about scoring these phenomenal wines? Well, considering once-in-a-lifetime chance of tasting such magnificent lineup, the rare factor and novelty value, sky – rocketing quality and nostalgia, the score would come really close to a divine three digit number on 1 to 100 scale…

However, the Graham 1970 has additional meanings for me and am also blown away by the 1927, 1935, 1955, 1994 and 2007 vintages, and all the rest too…

I overheard one of my colleagues saying “There’s nothing better to have after dinner than a glass of PortI” (Yet another added “Or sex”. Amen!)

A big shout out and many thank s to the lovely Claude Arsenault, Rupert Symington, Denis Boucher and Pierre Dumas for presenting this truly fascinating tasting!

A great, multi-course meal that we shared family-style was prepared by The Wine Bar’s Chef Bryan Burke:  cozy and so tasty comfort food using local ingredients. Service by the very attentive and attractive Monique. There were great dry Douro reds, many from the excellent 2007 vintage to go along the succulent braised beef and honey ribs with cabbage. Bravo!

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