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Jan 25, 2014 08:14 PM

40-year port?

Does anyone know of a bar in the SF bay area that serves 40-year port? I can't imagine why anyone would... but if anyone does, I want to find it. Any leads appreciated.

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  1. Some nice restaurants might have a tawny that age. I remember Pizza D'Angelo in Mill Valley had an older tawny on the menu years ago.

    1. As of yesterday, Boulevard had
      Warres 1985,
      Grahams 1970,
      Grahams 1980
      on its drink list.
      Not bad if you don't mind paying over $40 for a glass of port.

      3 Replies
      1. re: nocharge

        I had a '27 at Boulevard ... probably 15 years ago. Although my memory ... might have been a '35.

        It's hard to think of the '85 as terribly vintage now. I got a couple of bottles of it a few years ago for about $40/bottle, Dow's I think, and simply drank them. They were very, very good.

        Agree with post further down about port getting a lot more expensive on the world market. I always look for Colheita ports, because they are still a single year, but they've been aged at an aging house for a long time (and well), then stabilized --- because the transport from oporto and all the oxidization at a restaurant is a serious problem. When I tasted at the Port Institute, my favorite of everything was a Colheita.

        Port is one area I'm happy to bring my own, for a large party, and pay corkage. The good wine importers - K&L is my closest - seem to stock some nice port.

        1. re: bbulkow

          While you might not think of it as "vintage", Vintage Porto is an official classification for a particular style of wine when certain years are declared, lest there be any confusion in the mind of the reader.

          1. re: Melanie Wong

            Of course. I meant, it's hard to think of '85 as rare or expensive. It was an exceptional year, and vintage declared.

            Here's a page with a short list of some of the vintage declared years. Different houses are allowed to declare vintage years independently.


      2. I'm personally a fan of the Dow 30-yr, but in running thru Google I came across this blog which has tasting notes comparing the Graham 30 and 40 yr ports. An interesting read:

        15 Replies
        1. re: jaiko

          Note that tawny is different from and sometimes less expensive than vintage of similar age.

          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            Yah the OP didn't make it clear, but personally I think tawny is a much inferior beast, and I rarely bother with it. Same with LBV.

            It seems like decent vintage port is harder to come by in restaurants these days. Warres is okay, but I remember back in the late 1990s, things like Taylor Fladgate 1977 and Fonseca 1970 were readily available, and at reasonable prices. It's not like that stuff is grand cru expensive, so what gives? Mind you, I'm not going to miss it at a place like Nopa or AQ, but at the very high end places, I'd like to have the good stuff with my dessert.

            1. re: dunstable

              Vintage port has a very short "shelf life" once opened compared to Tawny so if there's not enough demand, it's going to be wasted.

              1. re: drewskiSF

                That's I look out for Colheita. Long shelf life. Not vintage, but much finer than tawny.

                1. re: bbulkow

                  Colheita is tawny port. But of a single vintage.

                2. re: drewskiSF

                  The implicit suggestion here is that the demand was therefore greater in the late 1990s, which I am not sure was true, especially considering that at the time, I was living in suburban New Jersey. Who knows, perhaps it's true, but it's hard to believe that an area in which half the "fine dining" restaurants offered penne ala vodka (to say nothing of wine lists composed primarily of Turning Leaf, Kendall-Jackson, BV...) was a hotbed of port-drinking, compared to tech-boom San Francisco of today.

                  So everyone needs to drink more port then. I think restaurants should at least offer it by the bottle.

                  1. re: dunstable

                    Americans found renewed interest in port after the 1994 vintage was released. Cigars and interest in fine cheeses have also contributed to greater demand for port in the US.

                3. re: dunstable

                  Clarifying, I was most interested in a tawny just for the sake of trying something that spent 40 years in a barrel. But now I have a much better idea of the good stuff out there. Thanks, y'all.

                  1. re: rougevifdetampes

                    Bear in mind that a tawny port that has a designation of age, e.g., 40 years, refers to the AVERAGE age of the various wines used in the blend. So the wine in the glass has not spent 40 years in wood. Some parts are younger and some are older. I have tasted some very old tawny components, approaching 100 years old, that are added in tiny quantities to a bottling.

                    Alfred's Steakhouse in San Francisco has Graham's 40 y.o. on the dessert wine list.

                    1. re: Melanie Wong

                      On the other hand, 20 year (VOS) and 30 year (VORS) Sherries are at least as old as their designation with portions of much older wines in the mix. Perhaps that would be a better choice to taste the full effect of numerous decades of age on a fortified wine.

                4. re: Robert Lauriston

                  Usually when people refer to 30 or 40 year old port (round numbers) I've found they're referring to Tawny. Not sure in this case.

                  I have a bunch of 94' and 95' Taylor Fladgate, Fonseca and Quinta do Vesuvio I'm waiting for about 40 to drink.

                  1. re: hankstramm

                    Yes, I wish I had the foresight to cellar this stuff when I was younger. I already enjoyed the stuff very much, and at the time I was making a fair amount of money, so there is no excuse other than I am a prize idiot.

                    1. re: dunstable

                      Looking at some of the wine websites, it looks like good vintage bottles that will need 20 years of aging are going for about $80/bottle. This seems a lot higher than 10 years ago, but I have no data, and might be suffering from price nostalgia.

                5. re: jaiko

                  Thanks for the link - now I really want to try those...

                6. Hey everyone, just wanted to follow up. Thanks so much for all the tips and information!

                  Yesterday, my friends and I went to Alfred's Steakhouse. The three of us ordered one pour to share between us of each of Graham's 10, 20, 30, and 40 year Tawny ports. The incredibly wonderful and helpful bartender split up each pour into three so we could all taste a flight. A tasty and educational afternoon!