Croft Vintage Port 1900-1985

Croft Vintage Port 1900-1985

1900 
A tawny, toffee hue with green tints on the rim. A very clean, fresh nose redolent of a mature Boal, but there is excellent definition and lift. Scents of dried fig, burnt toffee and ginger: after ten minutes, tangy marmalade, indeed the nose continues to become fresher even after two hours in the glass. The palate is very smooth, slightly viscous with a touch of honey, bitter lemon and spice that becomes stronger towards the finish. Oxidative in style, but still focused, vigorous and with a crisp finish. This has a balletic poise with a lovely honeyed after taste. A great Croft, though not in the same class as Taylor’s 1900. Drink now. 

1927 
A strikingly deeper colour than the 1900, deep amber/brown core with a light amber rim. The nose is more intense although perhaps less defined, less joie-de-vivre than the more oxidative 1900. Dried apricots, marjoram, leather and orange peel. The palate is deep and spicy with Maduka honey, Chinese five-spice and a touch of liquorice. A more imposing, less feminine style of mature Croft but it has a very insistent finish, with tobacco and spice lingering on the aftertaste. Not in the same class as the Croft 1935, I would open bottles now rather than later. Ought to be better considering the vintage. Drink now. 

1931 
A paler colour tawny colour compared to the ’27 but deeper than the ’00. The nose is lacking a little vigour and dries with time: a touch of ginger, sandalwood and iron rust, perhaps bereft of some personality? The palate is not as bold or as ambitious as the ’27, comparatively disjointed and more austere towards the finish, but nevertheless the middle has good weight with touches of burnt honey, liquorice and fig. Linear on the finish. Past its best. 

1935 
A noticeably deep mahogany hue with light amber rim. This is the oldest Croft with vestige of fruit lingering on the nose with hints of macerated red cherry, figs, balsam and liquorice. Complex and compelling, with very good lift. The palate is simply outstanding with immense depth and complexity, beautiful sense of natural balance and harmony with spice, Manuka honey and dates. Long, seductive and irresistible, it is difficult to image exactly how port can be much better than this imperious Croft ’35. Brilliant. 

1942 
A pale amber hue. The nose is rather enervated, lacking lift and intensity with faint aromas of dried blood and orange peel, relatively one-dimensional to giants such as the ’35 and the ’45, though it develops and attractive smoky scent with time in glass. The palate is better than the nose intimates, with great harmony and a slight viscous texture. Indeed I cannot help feeling that this would love to have been the ’35 is a more propitious growing season with tinctures of white pepper, dried fig and a dash of cinnamon. A lovely port, let down by the bouquet. Drink now. 

1945 
A much deeper colour than the ’42 as one would expect. Quite limpid for a 62-year old with a lovely, elegant nose of ginger, leather, figs, almond and black cherries in the background. Very refined with a sedate feel to it. The palate is just sublime with perfect acidity, rich and decadent for Croft and in a sense, riper than the ’35 thanks to the Indian summer? Powerful, spicy and almost decadent towards the finish with wild honey, heather, fig, raisin and liquorice. Very long – this ’45 flirts with perfection. A gorgeous ’45 port. 

1947 
A pale amber hue with tawny rim, similar to the ’42 Croft. The palate is rather one-dimensional on the nose with light dried orange peel, a touch of cut marmalade and spice. Good definition, but it just lacks some intensity. The palate is very ripe and sweet with raisin, macerated cherry, sloes, and spice. Perhaps just lacks a little restraint and structure to support its ambition. It wants to be a hedonistic port but it is not balanced by its complexity or intellectual content. 

1948 
The is slightly deeper in colour than the ’42 but very clear. The nose is incredibly fresh, well-defined; one could almost describe it as "crisp”. Orange-peel, a touch of ginger, pencil box and smoke. Very focused. The palate is not a million miles away from the ’45 but with even greater tension and definition. Vibrant acidity, notes of honey, ginger, dried fig, Chinese spice. Very cohesive with a stately elegant finish. Great breeding and style, a really wonderful Croft perhaps over-shadowed by Taylors, which is very unfair. Wonderful. 

1955
A russet core with clear rim. A light nose that lacks a little lift and personality with notes of cigar box, iron rust and dried fruits. The palate is better with good concentration, quite a sturdy, resolute port, masculine and conservative, a no-frills, focused wine with notes of mulberry, sloes, lemongrass and fig with great depth on the finish. A more mercurial Croft, constantly changing in the glass and yet it always returns to being a rather stoic port, the antithesis of the more flamboyant ’47 (although the ’55 is much better.) Drink now, but do not be afraid to cellar for longer. 
 
1960 
The first bottle was corked. The second has a light russet core with deep tawny rim. A lovely soft, mulberry infused nose with a touch of sloes and coca that could do with a tad more delineation. The palate is well-balanced with good acidity, soft texture that belies what is an impressive structure for a ’60 port. Supple and complex; notes of tobacco, espresso, fig and caramel that builds and builds in the glass. Certainly one the great success of the vintage, perhaps better than even Taylors. 
 
1963 
Another russet core with amber rim. The nose is very well-defined with a femininity to it: orange zest, vase of old roses, cigar box and a hint of liquorice. There is an exotic element in the background the never comes to the fore. The palate has good weight and focus with sweet, viscous honeyed texture, but perhaps lacking the intellect of the ’35 or the ’45. But the finish is very elegant and supple although I would have preferred greater length. A good performance for Croft, but out-classed by others in this vintage. 

1966 
A slightly deeper core compared to the ’63. The nose is very ripe with mulberry and tobacco with a hint of balsam, just lacking a little freshness and delineation. The palate is similar to the ’63, very well-balanced and cohesive, a slightly viscous texture, fresh and surfeit with joie-de-vivre and vivacity. Wild strawberry, lemongrass and fig towards the finish, this is certainly the "dark horse” of the decade and in my humble opinion, superior to the ’63. A little gem. 

1970 
A similar russet core, though a little clearer than the ’66. The nose has good definition and focus with an attractive bouquet of cooked meats, mulberry, spice and leather. Light and feminine, although it never really develops the nuance that I was hoping for in the glass. The palate is vigorous, note quite as elegant as the ’66, a little more alcoholic and unrefined, the finish more linear with liquorice, burnt toffee and raisin. Moderate length. Drinking now. Very fine yet not in the same league as Taylors or for that matter, Fonseca. 

1975 
A pale tawny colour with watery rim. The nose is fully mature, rather one-dimensional with touches of wild strawberry, honey and cigar box, in need of more vitality. The palate is medium-bodied, well balanced but lacking sophistication and depth. Touch of white pepper, raisin and cherry towards the finish, this is actually better than I anticipated but certainly a step down from the better ports of the previous decade. Drink now. 

1977 
A clear claret/garnet core. The nose is ripe and attractive, but lacking the complexity of say, Taylors ’77 for example. Hints of cherry, brambly red-berried fruit, ginger and honey, though improving with time in glass as more blackberry leaf element begin to appear. The palate is sweet, ripe, very primordial considering the vintage, rounded in texture, supple with a lushness that I was not expecting. This should improve with more time, but I would prefer more grip and persistency towards the finish that I cannot help feeling is rather…ersatz?

1985 
A clear garnet core with slight tawny rim. The nose if very flat and muffled with touches of cloves, macerated cherry and balsam. The palate is medium-bodied, lacking some acidity and structure, smooth texture but a port that is over eager to please. Sweet red-berried fruit towards the finish, but it is just lacking some breeding.