Since I have not actually had this port in a few years, it seems contrary to my wine-review purposes to list it here. However, the experience is graven in my memory, as the port was exceptional. Really, it was the best-tasting thing I have put in my mouth in my entire life.

I was on a business trip in 1997, and while at a restaurant (Skipjack's, a seafood place in Boston, interestingly enough) I noticed the 1977 Fonseca on the drinks menu. I mentioned this to a colleague of mine who is a serious wine expert and he up and bought me a glass. A $27 glass, I might add. The port was spectacular--a deep brick red, sporting layer upon layer of glorious flavor.

A friend of mine--Matt, who turned me on to port back in the days when all we could afford was Bin 27 and Warre's Warrior--was very dismissive of my experience, saying that the 1977 vintage was past its prime. That may well have been, but the '77 harvest was one of the best in history and it showed in the product. I bet it's still aging away gracefully. I recently saw a bottle of the '77 on sale for $220, and in many ways it may be a steal. But perhaps the time has come to focus on acquiring some 1992 vintage port, which has similar potential but is still relatively reasonably priced. I'll keep you up to date.

Back to Rook's Wine Reviews

I have a couple bottles of 1977 Fonseca Vintage Port in my wine cooler. When I first got into port wine a couple years ago I kept reading about how awesome the 1977 vintage ports are, and the Fonseca being the best of the lot. I found some good deals on a few bottles and picked them up. They sat around in the cooler for a while, but I finally broke down and opened one up at a small dinner party last week.

Opening an old and expensive bottle of wine makes me feel really strange inside. It's like I'm opening up a piece of history that has not seen air in 23 years, and that these grapes were harvested when I was 2 years old. Once I drink this bottle, yet another of a very famous vintage will be lost to history.

Of course, at the same time, I was thinking, gimme my damn corkscrew and let's get this baby open!

Once I peeled back the metal foil from the top of the bottle I knew it was going to be great. This bottle had been stored properly, lying on its side, since purchase. The inside of the foil was covered with a sweet, sticky, almost honey-maple smelling residue. I passed the foil around and let my friends smell it. I then removed the cork and let the bottle stand for a moment. I poured a small amount into Riedel port glasses and let them sit for a time, to let the port air a bit.

Vintage port ages in the bottle, and through the cork are lost chemicals that give the wine its properties. This port has turned the expected deep purple with a shade of burnt sienna as the port loses some of what makes it grape juice. By tilting the glass about 60 degrees on a side, I can see through the liquid and see how it has aged. This particular bottle has aged properly.

Well, what about the results? My friend said that this was the best tasting wine she had ever put in her mouth, and I wholeheartedly agree. As Rook mentions, this port indeed has layer upon layer of flavor. At first tasting, there is almost so much flavor and fruit that my palate is overwhelmed and I have to let the wine sit around for a minute for my senses to acclimate. At the second taste, it is of sweet, complex wine, with many intermingling flavors, and there is no way to describe how "deep" this flavor goes. It's remarkable. The finish is intense, and it left a taste in my mouth for a half hour. Really amazing.

Amazing enough to pay $150 for a bottle? If you like to taste things you will remember for a lifetime, absolutely. There is nothing to describe how good this port is. My girlfriend even liked it, and she hated every other port I ever let her try. I hear the 1963 Fonseca Vintage Port is even better...

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