1945 Port event with 12 bottles plus 4 from 1935 and a 1870 and 1880

A few more pics:

Something i can imagine you would truly appreciate Jeremy.

Looks like a Meker type laboratory burner hooked up to a propane tank. Easy to find in laboratory equipment site.

Is it me or does everyone look really uncomfortable in their penguin suits. :slight_smile:

Great event, good to see some old wines fulfilling their purpose rather than spending their life in a collection to be looked at.

“The heated tongs removed the tops of the bottles with the corks still in place. We checked for any flaws and then thoroughly decanted each bottle combining 2 in the same decanter.”

Is that the normal method of operation, combining the bottles into one decanter? I’d be worried about a really, really good bottle being mixed with a good bottle and bringing it down.

Not where I come from. I agree that there’s more chances for problems this way. Just because a bottle seems ok upon opening doesn’t mean it won’t start to show problems with air. One bottle per decanter would have been the way to go.

Larry, I finally had an opportunity to talk with Don about the menu/ cheese inclusion. He states that Stilton and Roquefort and other strong cheeses are appropriate for the younger Ports, but too powerful for the older ones and therefore were specifically excluded from this tasting.

Don told me this morning that he made both from scratch, “they were a totally original design”. He made the 1st one in 89` and the 2nd one the day before the event; he had no model to emulate and used a Bunsen burner with a wide, flared flame to heat the tongs uniformly. Previously, he had used heated coals or a flame from a gas fired stove top to heat the tongs.

I asked Don about this today and he responded that in all of the years he has been doing these retrospective Port events, there had been only a couple of flawed bottles and they were detected prior to decanting. I know he has a great palate and I`m hyper sensitive to TCA, so we assumed we had it covered. The one tricky thing for me was that after applying the Port tongs, some heat and burnt glass odor remained for a few minutes and for me it was difficult to discern anything beyond that smell.

Nonetheless, he felt it made the most sense to combine the 2 bottles [with 1 in reserve] as it would have required 36 decanters, much more table space, separate pours in many more glasses and resulted in a logistical nightmare for everyone. With approving Port experts from all over the world in attendance, I yielded to any and all considerations about format and was humbled and honoured to be in their presence.

Andy, I asked Don about this today. He replied that the 1870 was a stellar vintage and there were 19 shippers in all and all bottles were from the vintage and from one house. BTW, Tim Littler, former owner of Whitwhams, was in attendance.

champagne.gif What a great event. I do love old ports and these are an outstanding lineup. Can you say jealous.
I knew you could.


This was my thoughts also. Even if the two bottles had come from the same cellar, you would expect that they would be pretty different at that age.

I would have rather seen two small pours of the two different VP’s as opposed to a blend, but maybe that’s just me.

Can understand the logistical issues with this though for sure.

Anyway, still an amazing tasting, and thanks for the notes and images!

Found one at Amazon. On order so I can make my own tong heater set up. The hard part was finding the larger burner spread. Most are “candlestick” flame set-up which would only heat a small part of the tongs at a time. And this one is designed for super high heat, 1780° C (3236° F) so it should get the tongs hot enough in a relatively short amount of time.


What I am having hard time finding is the connector that threads into the top of the small propane tank like in the picture above. It appears to have a knob to turn off the gas and the hose plugs into an 8mm (or so) input coming out of it. Anyone know what they are called or where to get one?

This would have been an event that Sucklings scores might have actually made sense. :slight_smile:

Andy, that sure looks like the burner Don used. At least it is about the same size and has a similar wide flame. It took about 2-3 minutes for the tongs to be heated enough to do the job on the bottles.

I love that you are really into it. It`s really the way to go for older bottles especially.

Since Im a novice at reviewing old Ports, I reached out to some who were there to have them send me their notes when finished, Suckling being one of them. He responded he was in Chile working and would post them on his website in the near future. Ill be curious to see how our notes compare, if at all.

I edited my post above…need help finding the small propane tank connector.

I suggest you contact Don.

I assume it’s a common connector for small propane tanks. Just don’t know what it’s called and everything I see online looks like it’s for larger tanks. If someone here doesn’t know, I’ll give him a hollar.

I had a glass of 1945 Port in 1981 and I still remember it. A whole line up is off the charts. Great write up. Thanks.

I think all you need is a regulator and the correct rubber hosing. There should be adaptors available to connect them all.