The SOMM Journal

June / July 2017

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Page 28 of 124

28 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } JUNE/JULY 2017 { the view from blue } DON SCHLIFF, FORMER CEO of Imports at California distributor Wine Warehouse, is an important leader in the West Coast wine trade. He is also passionate about Port. His per- sonal cellar contains some of the finest examples of Port from the past century and beyond. Ev ery year he hosts a comprehensive tasting that is focused on a particular vintage or type of Port. This year in February, he held a Los Angeles tasting for a select group of 26 Port lovers at the Hotel Bel-Air that was complemented by a lovely Wolfgang Puck luncheon menu. The black tie afternoon event was highlighted by the spectacle of Schliff opening ancient bottles in the traditional way using heated Port tongs. This year the focus of the tasting was the "Great 7s" with particular emphasis on the classic 1927 vintage (when Calvin Coolidge was in office). Also represented were 1997, 1977 1947 and one example from 1867 (when Queen Victoria was on the throne). It was a magnificent tasting with the '27s showing brilliantly. Prices are collector's market estimates. Not Fade Away . . . PORTS FROM 1927 AND OTHER "GREAT 7's" STILL HAVE POWER AND MYSTERY by Anthony Dias Blue Cockburn's 1927 (~$1,000) Elegant and feminine; silky with caramel notes; toasty and long on the finish. 95 Cockburn's 1947 (~$550) Lush, toasty, smooth and elegant; silky, long and lush; deep and lively; drink now. 96 Fonseca's 1927 (~$2,500) Creamy, lush, dense and rich; still fresh and youthful, but long age has lent stunning elegance and complexity; amazing. 100 Fonseca's 1977 (~$250) Smooth,sweet and lush nose; lush and rich; beautifully balanced. 95 Graham's 1927 (~$1,000) Spicy entry, still crisp and bright with cherry; ripe and juicy. 93 Graham's 1948 (~$5,500/magnum) Fragrant, spicy, smooth but lacks refine - ment; coarse and past its prime. 91 Graham's 1977 (~$150) Smooth; spicy nose; lush and sweet; spicy and rich with deep blackberry and yet deli- cate on the palate. 94 Niepoort 1927 (~$2,100) Lush and silky, ripe and rich; elegant; bal- anced, long and juicy; complex and lush. 96 Quinta do Noval 1997 Nacional (~$1,800) Intense and smooth; ripe and lush; mellow and smooth; vibrant and fresh. 97 Rebello Valente 1927 (~$950) Intense and rich; toasty, spicy, intense and luscious; complex, clean, deep and suave; drink now. 95 Sandeman 1867 (~$5,300) Smooth, toasty, rich and bitter ; long and spicy; clean, dried and edgy. 91 Sandeman 1927 (~$1,000) Elegant, silky, deep and long; refined and rich with raspberry; still very lively. 96 Sandeman 1947 (~$650) Smooth and warm; silky and spiced; elegant and spicy; starting to fade. 94 Taylor Fladgate & Yeatman 1927 (~$2,500) Rich and toasty; smooth and elegant. 97 Taylor Fladgate 1947 Special Quinta Vargellas (~$275) Smooth; lush and dense; rich; alcoholic; ripe and deep; racy, elegant and complex with herbal intensity; great texture. 95 Taylor Fladgate & Yeatman 1977 (~$200) Smooth elegant nose; sweet, smooth, silky, rich; complex and spicy; finesse; mature. 95 Tuke Holdsworth 1927 (~$850) Lush and minerally; spicy, toasty; long and rich; intense mid-palate; deep and long; 10–15 years more. 96 Warre's 1927 (~$1,000) Lush, toasty; chocolate and spice; rich and intense; creamy. 96 Don Schliff, former CEO of Imports at Wine Warehouse, opens ancient ports from his col- lection in the traditional way using heated Port tongs. PHOTO: ANTHONY DIAS BLUE

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