Port Uncorked: Blast from the Past

“Talents are best nurtured in solitude. Character is best formed in the stormy billows of the world.” - Von Goethe

It's not often you can jump into a time machine of sorts and go back to the year you were born, but I had the good fortune to do just that just a few years ago, to celebrate the fiftieth lap around the sun. One of the funny things about vino-sapiens and just people, in general, is the fact that most folk’s historical context starts the day they were born. But with a quick look back into the history books, you'll see that here in states 1963 was a tumultuous year, to say the least.

Many may recall it was JFK, who inspired his country to find its way to the moon and, who also tragically lost his life just two years after making that announcement. It was also the year when many folks heard MLK give his "I have got a Dream" speech to hundreds of thousands of American's gathered at the national mall.

Musically speaking; the Beatles were taking the UK by storm, while the Stones sang songs many fans probably would not recognize today. And the very first celebrity chef appears on TV, French Chef with Julia Child debuts via an educational-television program. The iconic cold-war era "red-phone" is established between DC and Moscow and it also happens to be the year I was born. It was during these times, that Cockburn's was also pleased as punch to announce their decision to declare 1963 as a Vintage year.

The Symington family who recently acquired Cockburn’s has now taken ownership of this once great port empire. They are well aware of what many had called “The golden age of Cockburn’s”. It was during this golden-age which produced many legendary wines, [ports] like 1896, 1908, 1927 and the bottle of 1963 which I recently sampled.

They believe that by identifying that "style" from their hey-days, one which had brought them tremendous success in the past, that the family can [hopefully] recapture that essence for the future. I'd say that is a good bet if they can pull it off. Their newest "declared" vintage is 2011, but I don't think I'll be around in 50 years to taste whether or not they have succeeded.

The wine held up beautifully over the years and, the cork came out without a hitch. In the glass you can clearly see, the ruby color starting to fade and, starts picking up more garnet and brick edge colors. It was decanted for about an hour or so before dipping into what can only be described as a mind-bending delight. If you would like to grab a bottle of this for yourself, please stop by Bird Rock Fine Wine for your own amazing birth-year experience. This is my first time sipping of wine with this much bottle age and wow what a special treat it was, big-time thanks to Ken for the invite.

Splashing down from the decanter to my glass, grabbing more air, the fruit gained a bit more plum-like character, while at the same time dialing up a bit more complex dried fruit characteristics. Bang-bang right out of the gate this port is nicely integrated, showing cherry, dark-plum, baking-spice, subtle choc-truffle, great depth and hints of fig on the nose and palate and perhaps surprisingly so, a nice verve of acid to carry the still abundant fruit. It was nothing but sheer drinking pleasure and paired ever so nicely with pecorino cheese. Until next folks please remember to sip long and prosper cheers!


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