As a post this is almost a week behind the time. The excuse is that firstly I’ve just found the reference (in an old copy of Decanter) and secondly, it’s just too good a coincidence.
Graham’s 1948 Vintage Port shares my name and my birth year – and now I find that on my birthday John D Symington whose family still own this legendary port house, reporting on the harvest prospects for 1948, wrote “Grapes looking healthy and nice and very sweet.”
Francis Warre, writing a few weeks later after the harvest, said:
“This vintage appears to be similar to the 1926 [another legendary year]. Very high sugar content, slow fermentation even after a tremendous amount of work.”
Jancis Robinson MW wrote of the 1948 on 4th January 2005 that
“I am still mentally wallowing in what was probably the single finest wine I was lucky enough to drink over the holidays – a well-kept bottle of GRAHAM 1948…This was sublime…It was a stomping, attention-grabbing, tub-thumping, speechifying Port full not just of violets and liquorice and prunes, but also of grainy texture and vitality.”
A 2013 tasting, a sold-out event at the Essencia do Vinho festival in the Douro, reported that it “showed an ethereal quality, with hints of mint, cinnamon and nuances of coffee.”
Though it had been a cool July in 1948, August and September were very hot and when the grapes were picked they were very highly concentrated after some dehydration in August. This did not affect the quality though it did reduce the yield down to 80,000 bottles – sold, it is said, at £40 / $65 per case.
Now there are very few bottles left. The Symington family are reported to have less than 25 and individual bottles will cost you upwards of £500 / $800 (and rise to three times that in some retailers). The good news is that it may have another 50 years’ life. Jancis reckoned that “everything seemed to be in balance and yet I would not be surprised if it were still going strong in 20 or even 30 years’ time.”
So there’s hope for me yet. I have drunk 1948 port (many years ago) but never my eponymous vintage. And that’s a hint…