Quinta do Noval Silval Vintage Port, 2007


From the cellar: Here’s a bottle that got shoved to the back in the cellar.  We pulled it out almost by accident.  The Wine Spectator had given it 90 points and recommended it be drunk by 2016.

Based solely on that professional intel we anticipated it to be fully past, an accident waiting to be uncorked.  But the reverse was of course true and the rewards myriad; take that WS.  If Puff was a metaphor for childhood imagination then this port is a metaphor for adult reality.  It sang on the palate, to extend a lazy construction.

Online you will see, ad nauseum, “open and accessible” but in fact it was a little cryptic, and it crept up on you.  It was no open book.

But, as with all things magical, the thing about port is you never drink it at the start.  (Well, except for white port, and perhaps except for the French French who, you know, do Pineau des Charentes before a salad.)  As a rule, you never just drink port, as a person, as a person enjoying a drink; or maybe some people do, some very unusual people.  Sherry?  Yes.  Sherry, yes, yes, yes.  Port? No.  No, no, no.  If you go all out, an aperitif, white and red wine over dinner, then some port, you are toast.  So port is just something hard to reckon with.  Is it delicious?  Absolutely.  Is it necessary?  No, it goes beyond the “know your limit drink within it” mantra when, hic, you go beyond the limit.

I had this issue with a 1963 Rivesaltes.  It was unusual but lovely, fifty years old, and of course we opened it at a 50th, after the champagne, after the wine.  I mean it was the cheese course, we were well stuck in: Pull out the stretcher, wheel me off on a backboard.  And yet, if we’d opened it up at the start, if we’d only opened up the Rivesaltes, it sort of wouldn’t have made sense.  How can you watch the Wimbledon final without witnessing the path to glory?

I’m not sure anyone noticed how special this bottle was, that it was in fact 14 years old, lovingly cared for all this time in the crawl space wine cellar.  But it was a gorgeous sipper all the same.  Golden raisins, stewed prunes, the sweet liquor of canned cherries.  A long, long, lasting finish.  Matte black.

Price: On sale at BC Liquor in March, 2012 for $56, regularly priced $75. 

Market Liquidity: Karston Warholm takes home gold, we drink it in.

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