First sighting: 2000 Port
Even in a fast-moving modern world of technology, some things can't be hurried. And so it is, sometimes, in the world of wine.
Take, for instance, the much ballyhooed Vintage 2000 Port. By late in the summer of 2000, Port-watchers were already talking about the great potential of a year in which the weather consistently broke right ... long, hot summer days and weather that stayed warm and dry right through a late, ripe harvest.
All the elements were there for a memorable vintage, but only time would tell. And in the deliberate pace of Oporto wine making, it would be almost two years before the wines were available for tasting in a state at which serious criticism made sense.
It wasn't until the spring of 2002, a year and a half after the harvest, that we started getting rave reports from such experts as Roy Hersh (a frequent contributor to WineLoversPage.com), who called the 2000 vintage "one for the ages," adding, "this young vintage has the best across-the-board quality level I've yet to experience ... and I am including the revered 1994 vintage."
And even at that late date, the wine was still resting in barrels, not to be bottled and released to the market until later in the year. It's only in recent weeks that the first 2000 Vintage Port started showing up on retail shelves where everyday wine lovers can have a crack at it.
Unable to resist, I picked up the least-expensive 2000 available here (the Gould Campbell 2000 Porto at $23 for a 375 ml half-bottle), and sacrificed it for tasting. It was indeed impressive: full-bodied, sweet and strong, showing exceptional complexity and balance. At the same time, its fierce, almost fiery tannic and acidic nature demonstrated a point that bears repeating: Even though you can drink Vintage Port while it's young, it simply doesn't make sense to do so. This is one wine that simply demands aging, and that won't come into its own for 20 years or more. If you buy it, plan to keep it, on its side in a cool, dark place, and enjoy it in your retirement, or perhaps to celebrate your child's college graduation.
Still, if you have any interest in what is arguably one of the world's greatest wines, and one of the few that has not totally succumbed to price inflation, you'll never be able to buy the 2000 Ports for less than they're selling for today. Most of the early arrivals here are going in the range of $25 to $60 for half-bottles, roughly double that for full bottles.
For Roy Hersh's comprehensive barrel-tasting reports on most of the top-name 2000s, click to
Gould Campbell 2000 Vintage Porto ($22.99)
Inky blackish-purple, opaque, slips down the sides of the glass in sheets rather than mere "legs," already throwing enough sediment in the bottle to make decanting advisable. Characteristic Port aromas, more restrained than forward; plummy fruit with herbal nuances. Dried plum aromas open up with swirling in the glass, along with a distinct alcoholic edge. Abundant fruit shows on the palate, plummy and ripe, full-bodied and unctuous with back notes of dark chocolate, Acidic "grip" and fiery tannins build structure but make it a bit challenging to enjoy this wine young despite its ripe and appealing fruit. U.S. importer: Ex-Cellars Wine Agencies Inc., Solvang, Calif. (Feb. 26, 2003)
FOOD MATCH: Best sipped alone after dinner, but two experimental food matches prove of interest: Good-quality white Cheddar (Cabot from Vermont) coats the palate with sweet fat and dramatically smooths the wine's tannins; dark semisweet chocolate brings up the wine's plummy fruit, although it also accentuates the acidity.
VALUE: Excellent value at this price for a 375 ml half-bottle; less than half the toll for some of the other Port houses in the 2000 vintage.
WHEN TO DRINK: Vintage Port from a top vintage like this can last for decades and really needs 20 years to come into its own, but note that ideal cellar conditions are required for such long-term storage. It won't age well on a wine rack at room temperature. There's enough fruit to make it drinkable now, but it's frankly a waste to open it so young.
WEB LINK: You'll find the winery's English-language fact sheet at
French Wine Explorers:
We still have room for two in May
We still have two openings left in the Best of Bordeaux tour that I will be leading on May 11-17 with Lauriann Greene and Jean-Pierre Sollin of French Wine Explorers; and a few spots are still available in a group with a similar itinerary that Lauriann and Jean-Pierre will lead in July.
It's going to be an unforgettable week in Bordeaux, during which we will visit and enjoy both barrel tastings and older wines from many of the region's most prestigious chateaus. Just to whet your appetite, here's only a partial list of the chateaus where we'll visit and taste: Margaux, Latour, Mouton Rothschild, Haut Brion, La Mission Haut Brion, Lagrange, Cos d'Estournel, La Conseillante, Belair (St. Emilion) and Chateau l'Evangile (Pomerol), plus a few more that I can't announce yet but whose names are a match - or more - for those already on this list.
In addition to enjoying VIP visits to all these renowned wineries, the groups will stay in the historic heart of the beautiful city of Bordeaux, and enjoy gastronomic meals at highly-rated restaurants in the region.
The remaining spaces will go on a first-come, first-served basis, so don't delay! For full information or to make a reservation, send E-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-877-261-1500 (toll-free in the U.S. and Canada).Administrivia
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Friday, Feb. 28, 2003