Taylor Fladgate's Single Harvest 1863, drawn from the firm’s collection of very rare and valuable cask aged Ports, represents a unique piece of wine history. Like a time capsule, it offers a fascinating glimpse into a distant past.
The harvest of 1863 was one of the finest of the nineteenth century and the last great Port vintage before Phylloxera spread throughout the Douro Valley.
Matured for over a century and a half in oak casks, the Taylor Fladgate Single Harvest 1863 has achieved an exceptional level of density and complexity while displaying a vitality and freshness remarkable in a wine of this age. In addition, the cool and tranquil environment of the Port lodges in Oporto has allowed the wine to retain its harmony and balance.
The Taylor Fladgate Single Harvest 1863 is presented in a bespoke crystal decanter, specially produced in Italy, with an individually fitted glass stopper engraved and polished by hand in Scotland. The decanter is displayed in a superb luxury box finished in maple burl veneer. Each box contains a certificate individually signed by Taylor Fladgate's Managing Director, Adrian Bridge.
The Taylor Fladgate Single Harvest 1863 is being released as an exclusive limited edition, corresponding to only two casks of wine, and is offered on an allocation basis. A wine of this age and historical interest is very rarely available for purchase and the Single Harvest 1863 represents a unique opportunity for the collector and enthusiast.
Deep mahogany core with a narrow amber-olive rim. On the nose, a succession of subtle spicy aromas opens up against a dense backdrop of treacle and molasses. Notes of sawn oak and vanilla give way to a spicy surge of nutmeg, black pepper and ginger. Gradually the rich, sumptuous aromas of age emerge, walnut, marzipan, butterscotch and mocha followed by rich figgy plum-pudding notes. On the palate, the wine is in perfect balance, with sweetness and acidity in perfect harmony and beautifully integrated spirit. On the mid-palate the wine releases a burst of opulent mellow flavour which is lifted by a crisp acidity as it flows into the endless finish. A wine of extraordinary depth and background which continues to astonish with multiple layers and dimensions of aroma.
WA98 The 1863 has not been topped up to our knowledge and the records from W&K also do not record any. It was kept in two casks in a locked cage at their warehouse in Serpa Pinto here in Gaia. This wine was the great pride and joy of the Falcao Carneiro family and they only decided to release it having seen the success of Scion. Jose Falcao Carneiro is a very serious person and I believe that the special point about this wine was that it came from 1863 whereas the Weise & Krohn was founded in 1865. So the wine may well have been among the first that was purchased by the company’s founders. Certainly the lodge where it was kept has been rented by W&K since 1880. The wine is very dense with the very developed rim of olive color, which is always the indication of a very old tawny. It is also viscous with residual sugar at 224-grams per liter. The Baume is 10.3 and the pH is 3.53. Lead levels are high at 330 parts per billion but this would be expected from old Ports due to movement through brass fitting in the old days.” So we must doff our caps and bow before a fortified wine that never fully relinquished its flush of youth. If the Scion was Katherine Hepburn, this is Jane Russell. The 1863 Tawny is a Port from another time and another world, but whose pleasure is with us today. I cannot remember the last time I encountered such a jaw-dropping drop of alcohol as Taylor’s 1863 Single Harvest Tawny Port. Since I was overseas for its launch, managing director Adrian Bridge kindly sent me a half-bottle, which was given a couple of weeks to recover in the fridge, next to the anti-bacterial yogurt and Japanese tonkatsu sauce, both disbelieving the sell-by date of this temporary occupant. Then I allowed the sample to gradually warm up for tasting, sharing the remainder with a couple of oenophiles, not just because of my boundless generosity, but because I was so keen to gauge their reaction vis-a-vis mine. Indeed, one experienced imbiber was a mere 140 years out when he guessed the vintage. That gives you an indication of how this 1863 performed. Let’s gather a little background information first. The release of this 1863 came about after Taylor Fladgate acquired Weise & Krohn last year. Weise & Krohn were actually selling the 1863 in a pack that included an 1896. Taylor’s decided that the 1863 deserved its own individual bottling, thereby neatly serving as a follow-up to the successful Scion. As you might guess, luxury packaging is part of the deal and the 1863 Tawny has been issued across the world in 1,600 velvet-lined crystal decanters in maple burl veneer. Of course, this begs the question whether it should be sold as Weise & Krohn or as Taylor’s? I can see both sides of the argument, but in those days, all Port wines were sourced from dozens of growers and so perhaps whether it is Weise & Krohn or Taylor’s is a moot point. It is what it is. And what it is, is a time-defying pre-phylloxera humdinger that’ll knock your socks off. Simply pouring the wine, I noticed how deep and clear the color was, the intoxicating sumptuous aromas filling the room long before I had put nose near glass. We find extravagant and luscious aromas of blackberries, black plum, camphor, rosemary, iris, caraway seed and walnut, fig jam, a quite extraordinary and heady bouquet. The palate follows suit with a sumptuous, quasi-viscous texture that instantly seduces the senses. It comes armed with a sweet and candied core of black and red fruit, yes fruit, because there is astonishingly little degradation here. It is a powerful and flamboyant tawny with quince and marmalade, later cloves, raisin and dried fig on the long flowing finish. It has such youth and vigor that part of me wondered whether I should be parsimonious with my score. Aren’t such antiquarians supposed to get old and offer secondary, third and fourth evolutionary aromas and flavors? Perhaps like some readers, I speculated as to whether it had been given a little “rejuvenation” during its life. Adrian Bridge’s reply not only quashed that idea but went some way in explaining why it comes across so vivaciously in analytical terms.