Cigar Aficionado

Graham's Vintage Port 2000

While the English tradition of laying down young vintage Port for the birth of a child or godchild continues, the custom is no longer exclusive to the cellars of Britain's aristocracy or upper classes. In fact, more bottles of young vintage Port rest in America than any another nation. And with good reason.

The famous fortified wine from vineyards in northern Portugal is one of the longest-lived wines, coming into its own 20 or 30 years after bottling. The 2000s are fantastic young vintage Ports with all the power and richness you can hope for in such a youthful fortified wine, plus they have the added benefit of being from the first vintage of the millennium. The best of the 2000s seem a compromise between the fabulous aromas of the 1997s and the glorious richness and ripeness of the 1994s. My preference is for 1994, but 2000 is close behind.

The 2000 Graham's is the vintage Port of the year. It is a shining example of an established Port house pushing the limits to make even better wines through better viticulture and wine-making methodology. The 2000 is a young Port with grip, real "blackstrap wine" as the British used to call Port centuries ago. It smells of freshly picked orchids with loads of ripe, clean fruit and then turns full-bodied, medium sweet and very powerful in the mouth with big velvety tannins. It lasts for minutes on your palate. There's great balance and class to this young vintage Port now, but it is a wine that merits decades of cellaring to show its true potential. I scored it 98 points in a recent Wine Spectator tasting of close to four dozen 2000 vintage Ports.

If you are into vintage Port, it's going to be next to impossible not to buy some 2000, and Graham's should be on the top of your list. The greatest baby Graham's that I have ever tasted may be better in the long run than the legendary 1948, a judgment many of us may have to leave to the next generation. Especially if you've bought the wine for one of your children. But then, if you're nice they may share.

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