“In 1977 I hope I go to heaven…” | 1977 Fonseca and other Vintage Ports

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The Clash was probably not thinking of Vintage Port when they released “1977” as the B-side to “White Riot” (nothing to do with white wine) in March 1977…

Joe Strummer was perhaps unaware that 20 Port shippers declared 1977, a year in the Douro that started with a wet winter and a cold spring.

September was extremely hot and the sun ripened the grapes that were picked at the end of the month.

Prices were considered high at the time but now seem very generous.

Fonseca 1977, for example, was released in London in January 1980 at £48 per dozen bottles. That now equates to about £220.

Arden’s bottle of 1977 Fonseca came from a private cellar in east England, overlooking the North Sea.

Other 1977s available include Quarles Harris and Warre’s – in 75cl bottles and (yeah!) 150cl magnums.

In the meantime, as The Clash sang: “Stay free…”

  • 1977 Fonseca Vintage Port
    1977 Fonseca Vintage Port (1 x 75cl)
    £145.00
  • 1977 Warre Vintage Port
    1977 Warre’s Vintage Port (1 x 75cl) SOLD
  • Chateau Latour 1984 by Valentino Monticello
    1977 Château Latour (1 x 75cl) SOLD
  • 1977 Fonseca Vintage Port (1 x 75cl) SOLD
    1977 Fonseca Vintage Port (1 x 75cl) SOLD
  • 1977 Château Batailley (1 x 75cl) SOLD
    1977 Château Batailley (1 x 75cl) SOLD
  • 1977 Warre Vintage Port
    1977 Warre’s Vintage Port (1 x 150cl magnum)
    £242.65
  • 1977 Quarles Harris Vintage Port
    1977 Quarles Harris Vintage Port (1 x 75cl)
    £139.25
  • Dictador 2 Masters | Hardy
    1975-1977 Dictador 2 Masters | Hardy Spring Blend (1 x 70cl bottle) SOLD
  • Dictador 2 Masters | Despagne
    1977 Dictador 2 Masters | Despagne (1 x 70cl bottle) SOLD
  • Dictador 2 Masters Royal Tokaji
    1977 Dictador 2 Masters | Royal Tokaji SOLD
  • 1977 Taylor Vintage Port
    1977 Taylor’s Vintage Port (1 x 75cl) SOLD
  • 1977 Warre's Vintage Port
    1977 Warre’s Vintage Port (1 x 75cl bottle) SOLD
  • 1977 Brora 37-Year-Old | 50.4%
    1977 Brora 37-Year-Old | 50.4% | SOLD
  • Graham’s 1977 Vintage Port (1 x 75cl bottle) SOLD
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At Her Majesty’s pleasure | 1952 Château Latour

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What to give to somebody celebrating a Platinum Jubilee 👑…?

How about a bottle of 1952 Château Latour?

From the year that Princess Elizabeth, Duchess of Edinburgh, became monarch of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the British Dominions, this is a tannic vintage of Latour, which is probably why the wine has retained its deep colour.

Arden’s bottle of 1952 Latour came to us from a private cellar via an auctioneer in Lincolnshire.

An ideal bottle for toasting a Platinum Jubilee 🍷.

(A bottle of 1952 Château Palmer is also available should you wish to double-up for Her Majesty’s 70th.)

  • 1952 Chateau Latour
    1952 Château Latour (1 x 75cl)
    £650.00
  • 1947-1949-1952 Palmer
    1952 Château Palmer (1 x bottle) SOLD
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Ashes to Ashes | 2005 Pétrus

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My fondest memory of 2005 is of the England vs. Australia “Ashes” cricket matches, which ended with England beating Australia for the first time in 19 years 😁.

(Let’s not think about the most recent Ashes contest… 😬.)

While that great 2005 Ashes series was taking place, on the other side of the Channel the grapevines in Bordeaux enjoyed a dry, warm summer.

I spent some time in Bordeaux that June and I can recall the warm evenings, with not a drop of rain to be seen anywhere.

It was the second driest year there since 1897 and the fifth-hottest vintage in 110 years, after 2003, 1949, 1921, and 1899, but ahead of 1906 and 1947.

Old-timers (i.e. even older than me) compared 2005’s wines to 1989, 1982, and 1947 – dense, rich, and textured.

Some estates produced masterpieces – like 2005 Pétrus,six bottles of which recently found a happy new home via Arden.

There’s still a bottle of Pétrus 1985 on the list, though the 2003 has also been and gone…

2003 Petrus at Arden Fine Wines in Mayfair, London
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Close encounters of the third (growth) kind | Château Langoa Barton 2001

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Langoa-Barton in Saint-Julien is one of the nicer châteaux of Bordeaux wine country.

It’s balanced and elegant, like the wines that it produces, which are also as charming as its owners – formerly Anthony Barton and nowadays his daughter Lilian, both of whom I’ve met several times over the years.

Langoa is made cheek by jowl with Léoville Barton, though was not chateau-bottled until 1969. It was instead bottled in the Bordeaux cellars of Barton & Gustier.

The 2001 Château Langoa Bartonwas overshadowed by the mighty 2000 but it’s a much better vintage than many people might think. The ’01 was harvested a bit later than the 2000 and has a bit more Cabernet Sauvignon in it, with a dash of Cabernet Franc too.

2001 Langoa capsule

All the Langoa here has gone but we do have some nice vintages of Léoville: 1983, 1989, 1990, and 1992.
The two Barton wines are invariably well-priced and a wonderful drink for your money (as my colleague Madeline agrees).

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Two Lafite Deep | 1950 & 1962 Château Lafite Rothschild

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When 1962 Château Lafite Rothschild was released in 1965, it retailed at about £2 per bottle, which would now equate to about £40.

Happy days… 😊

It was a late late vintage in 1962. Ripening was delayed (because the sap in the vines kept drying out), so the harvest didn’t start until 10th October; in 1961 it began on 27th September.  The resulting wines had a streak of acidity that ran through the wine like “Brighton Rock” in a stick of boiled sugar.

Arden’s bottle of Lafite ’62 came from a private client in the East Midlands, who retained it from their late parent’s cellar.

It’s a great bottle for a 60th birthday or anniversary in 2022. (Or a Saturday night dinner 🍷.)

The 1950 Bordeaux vintage had an abundant crop – twice as large as 1949 – that produced plentiful and reasonably-priced wines.

A lovely bottle of 1950 Château Lafite Rothschild came into our cellar from an East Anglia auctioneer.

The “Louis Eschenauer” négociant label suggest the eminence of that company in the 1950s.

Nowadays it sells IGP Pays d’Oc and Crémant de Bordeaux to off-licence chains…

  • 1950 Lafite
    1950 Château Lafite Rothschild (1 x bottle)
    £895.00
  • 1962 Château Lafite Rothschild
    1962 Château Lafite Rothschild (1 x 75cl)
    £1,028.85
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“Le Roy le veult” | 1961 Maison Leroy Nuits-St-Georges 1er Cru

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We have very few 1961 wines available at Arden.

Nowadays they are as rare as a blue rose… 💙

But we did have this bottle of 1961 Maison Leroy Nuits-St-Georges 1er Cru for a client who wanted to give a nice 60th birthday gift 🥳.

At this time Leroy was a negociant, sourcing grapes from third-party vignerons and bottling wines under its own name.

This Nuits-St-Georges 1er Cru is (I think) a blend of several 1er Cru vineyards in Nuits, though I don’t know which ones.

Lalou Bize-Leroy, who reaches her 90th birthday in 2022, had been working in the family business for six years by 1961.

I have never met Lalou but I did speak to her on the phone some years ago after she had promised to send samples for a tasting that I was coordinating for my then day-job. She spoke too much and too quickly for my limited grasp of French, so I just kept saying “Merci Madame Bize-Leroy” – which I hope the lucky recipient of this bottle will also say 🙏.

Maison Leroy Nuits-St-Georges 1er Cru 1961
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The Palmer Method | 1990 Château Palmer

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Madeline and I managed to find some sunshine at our Mayfair office recently – with some bottled Vitamin D courtesy of 1990 Château Palmer 🍷 🌞.

In 1990, the warm weather (with an occasional sprinkling of refreshing rain) led to an outstanding Bordeaux wine vintage – the third in a row, after the excellent 1988 and 1989.

The Palmer ‘90 has the characteristics of wine made in very hot years: Low acidity; ripe fruit flavours; and soft tannins 😋.

But not (atypically for a warm year) an alcohol level that might cause your liver to twitch – only 12% in 1990.

(As a point of comparison, the 2010 Palmer is 14.5%: That’s 21% more alcohol for your liver to cope with 😵.)

If you’re wary of sunstroke, then we also have fine examples of 197019861996, and 1999 Palmer.

1990 Château Palmer
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The Great Daëne | 1953 Château Doisy Daëne

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Six bottles of 1953 Château Doisy Daëne landed on the Arden list recently.

A Sauternes-loving client took three bottles and very generously offered to open one with me at our office in Brook Street.

No pressure… 😰

Until the 1840s, Doisy was a single estate but was subsequently divided into three: Château Doisy Daëne, Château Doisy-Védrines, and Château Doisy-Dubroca.

“Daëne” is apparently a French corruption of “Deane”, the English owner of the then undivided Château Doisy.

Doisy Daëne is pure Sémillon – no Sauvignon or Muscadelle here – and is known for its “peaches and cream” character.

This 1953 comes from a lovely, stylish Sauternes vintage.

The nearly 70-year old cork came out without too much trouble, even if it came out in sections 😬. All good.

The wine retained a beautiful ochre-yellow colour, as golden as a winter sunrise.

It was honeyed, fragrant, and remarkably fresh, with very little (if any) oxidation apparent.

The drier than expected finish shone like – and was as smooth as – satin.

The 1953 Château Doisy Daëneis an outstanding example of aged Sauternes and great value for money.

Only three left – but I might have drunk them by the time you read this… 😋

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Celestial Pol | 1986 Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill

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Arden Fine Wines is based in Brook Street, opposite Claridge’s, which was a favourite bolthole of Sir Winston Churchill.

Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill was created by Champagne Pol Roger in homage to its greatest fan.

By comparison with most other deluxe champagnes, the volume is tiny – 25,000-50,000 bottles typically.

We’ve tasted three vintages of Sir Winston this year, most recently the 1986

This was the fifth vintage of Cuvée Sir Winston to be brought to life and is a very good effort for a rather mixed year in Champagne.

We have three bottles left – if they’re not opened for inspection by the (self-appointed 😉) Friends of Arden Champagne Tasting Panel in the meantime…

The UK supply of Pol Non Vintage has all but dried-up. We have no bottles or half-bottles available until early next year 😢.

But we do still have available (1.5-litre / two-bottle size) magnums of Pol Roger Brut Réserve NVbottles and magnums of 2013 Pol Roger Vintageand magnums of 1998 Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill

With couriers and warehouses already creaking well before the Silly Season (not turning up, not answering the phone, going to the wrong address etc etc), we encourage you to order your Christmas magnums of Pol (and other nice things) in good time.

Don’t say that we didn’t warn you… 🎃

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2008: A Champagne Odyssey | Pol Roger Vintage 2008

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We’re very keen on Pol Roger in Brook Street… 🍾

Although Arden can’t get any more Pol Roger Brut Réserve Non Vintage bottles until next year – all gone to the USA and Japan rather than Brexit Britain, my spy in Champagne tells me 👀 – we retain some beautiful vintage bottlings of Pol, including the great 2008 (as seen below in the company of 1986 Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill and our friend Linda Hugo of Beyond Curated).

By consensus, 2008 is the finest Champagne vintage of the 21st Century to date.

The Brut Vintage 2008 from Pol Roger is made with its traditional house blend of 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay grapes from superior vineyards in the Montagne de Reims and the Côte des Blancs.
It was aged for eight years in Pol’s deep dark cellars, 30+-metres below Rue Winston Churchill in Epernay, before disgorgement and release.

Just imagine the men in monkey costumes hominids in 2001: A Space Odyssey encountering a bottle of 19641947, or 1943 Pol Roger – the planet Jupiter might have exploded… 🪐

Talking of explosions (on 5th November) 🔥 🎇 🎆: We remind you please to order your Christmas wines in good time.

Couriers and warehouses are short-staffed and fulfilling orders much slower than usual. It’ll be tricky this year.

Please don’t shoot the messenger… 🔫.

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