No serious wine collection can be said to be complete if it does not contain at least some Vintage Ports from the top Port houses.
Vintage Port can be said to be the ultimate collector’s wine. Its ability to age is legendary and it will outlive most other wines in the cellar. This resilience and longevity means that – at least in the case of Vintage Port from a well known house such as Taylor’s - it will keep its value and indeed appreciate provided it is properly stored. Vintage Port also has another characteristic which is important to any collector: Its rarity.
Vintage Port is only made in the best years and represents a very small proportion of the crop. It is selected from the very finest wines from a handful of famous estates, most of which belong to the Port houses themselves. In the last few decades only about three years in ten have been declared.
On average, Vintage Port represents no more than 1% of all Port sold. The amount of Vintage Port bottled by each of the top houses is also relatively small. With the passage of time, a Vintage Port will become progressively rarer as bottles are consumed. The tendency to drink Vintage Port younger means that the wines become rarities much more quickly than they did in the past.
As would be expected, Vintage Ports from the famous Port houses are of necessity quite expensive. However they are much more affordable than most iconic wines from other classic wine regions including many which attract lower scores and ratings. Vintage Ports are particularly good value when purchased on release, when special ‘declaration’ prices and conditions apply.
Because Vintage Port has an extraordinary capacity to age, it represents a secure buy as an investment and will tend to increase in value as it ages, particularly if it has been made by one of the top houses such as Taylor’s and is from a good year.
The tradition of laying down a pipe of port for each child is no longer very common, but buying a case of Vintage Port from the birth year of your children, or indeed for your god children is still very popular – particularly in countries with a long tradition for Vintage Port, such as the United Kingdom.
When buying Vintage Port, provenance of the wine is very important. If possible, always try and buy through a reliable and well established wine merchant. Long established wine merchants generally have a direct relationship with Taylor’s extensive chain of worldwide distributors, guaranteeing the provenance of the wine and hence the quality.
The same decision making should apply when buying Vintage Port at auction.