TN: Dow vs. Grahams '77, '85 and 40 Year Tawny

As a result of being in the Port mood with the holidays, tasting an exceptional '66 Nacionale the other day, and the fact that I didn’t hardly open a bottle of Port last year, I insured I would have some bottles to finish off by opening six bottles the other night for my wife and I to taste through.

Dow '77 Vs. Grahams '77
So right off the bat this tasting was null having the Grahams being slightly corkded. The Dow had fantastic ruby garnett color and started out a little closed in the glass. It took a solid 45 minutes to start showing in the glass. The nose started off with some slightly cedar and cigar box, clove, spice and vanilla. The palate was cranberry, pomagranet with a big sweet front palate, decent mid, with a smooth mouthcoating finish and well balanced alcohol.

Dow '85 vs. Grahams '85
The Dow was not showing all that impressively. It was a simple and fruity on thepalate, once again closed with a little white pepper and cherry ludens on the cola, mint nose and somewhat hot, probably due to imbalance of fruit and tannin? The wine was somewhat tired and did not have the life of or the complexity left in it that the '77 Dow had.

The Grahams on the other hand, woweee! Huge cassis, licorice and lively blackberry fruit on the nose. It possesed a lot of the secondary flavors that you get out of a burgundy. This was mouthfilling with black cherry pie, cinnamon and vanilla. Sweet on the front, huge in the middle and back with nice tannins. This wine was one of the best Ports I’ve had, and absolutely blew the other two out of the water hands down. WOTN

40 Year Dow (Bottled in '05)
Butter toffee and almond on the nose, once again, somewhat closed. It still showed a little of its past life as a red wine, with some dried cherry, dried cranberry and cinnamon on the palate. This was a nice example of a 40 year, but I wonder if the five years since bottling have degraded the condition of the wine. This is a question for the board. I’m curious to see how my next bottle tastes, but I don’t recall this being huge before this tasting.

40 Year Grahams (recent release)
This was fatastic. Toasted pecan, cinnamon and maple brown sugar on the nose and the palate. If there was such a thing as oatmeal cookie in a bottle, this is it. The mouth feel was intense with praline, candied orange peal. What a fun wine and a fun tasting.

I have to say, the grahams was very nice, I wish I’d been able to open aother '77 but I didn’t have another.

I drank the '85 Grahams at Thanksgiving as well and had exactly your reaction. There is one lot of it with attractive estimates at the next HDH auction if you want to acquire a few more bottles.

David Kubiak

It does not sound like you decanted these bottles for any length of time and although it is possible you did and just didn’t mention it, if not, that could account for how some of your VPs showed.

I have had the 1985 Dow so many times I can’t begin to count 'em all. It is a breathtaking youngster with 2 decades plus … of life left in it.

The 1977’s need six to eight hours of decant time for them to show their real stuffing and the 1985s, 8-10 hours. I bet that if these bottles have been stored well from birth, that all of the Ports (except the corked G77) would be considerably better the 2nd day.


Great point, I don’t often decant Port, and I should. That could explain the Dow issue of being closed. I did have the '77 Dow the next night and it had opened up considerably on the nose. I still have the others and they will meet their demise this week. I’ll update if they are still holding. I think they will. The '85 Grahams was just cool, it was a “blow your head off” wine. really fun. I need to improve my decanting skills, I don’t do it often enough.

What I also love is the price on these '85 wines, often I get lucky and pick them off for $65 to $80.


There are some stunning good buys on 1985s. Check out a Fonseca if you want to see what I consider the top Port of the vintage.

Here is a brief article I wrote several years ago on simple decanting of Port, especially Vintage Port. I hope it helps you with future bottles:" onclick=";return false;

That’s a great article. Really a great read. I have about 4 cases of VP, but it’s usually spur of the moment and rare for me to open them. I’ll start keeping a few upright for fun.

Thanks for the notes John.

Just pulled a few bottles myself for Christmas this morning (like to leave them standing up for a month also), and a '77 Dow’s was one bottle.

Looking forward to opening it!!

Guys, Have any of you had a 1985 Taylor recently? Trust Roy has… I have one standing for Saturday night.

Thnaks for the data point on 1985 Graham. I have a bottle in the queue this winter.

A local store has 1995 Tuke Holdsworth vintage for $25. I could not find any info on this bottle. Does anybody have experience with the 1995?


Here are two of my more recent tastings of the 1985 Taylor from two distinctly different bottles:

1985 Taylor Vintage Port [$ Find on $]
Medium ruby with a pink rim. A pleasant Port and this vintage of Taylor shows a bit of maturity, but was ready to drink now, with only one hour and a half of decant time. Very smooth and harmonious with a unique eucalyptus note that I found intriguing. Soft and plush with tannins that are more lively on the finish. One of the better bottles of the '85 Taylor I’ve tasted. Should be best from 2012-2020.
90 Points (2008-09-29)

1985 Taylor Vintage Port [$ Find on $]
Dark cranberry color showing youthful vibrant color. I had this last week and it was nowhere near this good. Light-medium weight, juicy and spicy with vibrant young fruit. The nose is filled with fragrant floral and ripe red berry fruit. It is showing a bit light, which is typical of this Port …yet harmonious and on this day, it outclasses the 1983. In possession of an early maturing style and it’s quite approachable today, with a medium length finish. Consume it sooner rather than later, certainly by 2020.
90 Points (2007-11-30)