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Taylor Fladgate 1855 Scion Port

The Accidental Port

Taylor Fladgate 1855 Scion Port in its sumptuous packaging
Taylor Fladgate 1855 Scion Port in its sumptuous packaging

In the New World, in the obscure town of Madera, California, Andy Quady makes a port-style wine that he subtly calls Starboard. Believe it or not, sixth generation, Oporto, Portugal-born winemaker David Bruce Fonseca Guimaraens spent time in California with Andy, as well as in Australia and Oregon, before settling back to the Douro Valley to tend family affairs. We had the honor to be in David's pleasant company for a few hours to taste through the 2009 Vintage Ports for all three of his port brands: Croft, Fonseca and Taylor Fladgate.

The Fladgate Partnership remains to this day a family-run business, committed to excel in their production, and developing product through continuous investments in the vineyards. The Vintage ports are still made by foot treading to make the crushing process as gentle as possible. It was back in 1744 (before Port was made the first wine appellation in 1756) that the family became the first shippers to purchase vineyards in the Douro Valley, essentially becoming farmers.

Winemaker David Guimaraens The Douro Valley, Portugal, where true Port is made
David Guimaraens
Douro Valley, Portugal

Technically, only Portuguese-made fortified wines can be called Port or Porto, but the drink, which seems to have lost some of its luster, is also made in Australia, the United States and a handful of other countries. There are many kinds of Ports (Ruby, Tawny, Pink, White, Crusted...) and many more ways to enjoy them. David is a Port Ambassador Extraordinaire; a little bit of time with him will turn anyone into a Port wine drinker, especially after the surprise he sprang on us.

At the end of a very informative meal, a small sample bottle appeared with a simple one-word label: Scion. Long, very long story made short, through a connection in the business, Fladgate acquired two barriques of 1855 pre-Phylloxera Port. If Champagne and crème brulee were an accidental discovery, set aside in a family cellar for generations, almost forgotten, this port became an accidental discovery for David, who immediately seized the opportunity to make something really special for The Fladgate Partnership and the happy few who will get a hold of one of the 1,400 bottles to be released at $3,200 each. Yes, it comes in a fabulous package, crystal bottle and all, but at any price, this is a beverage that will never be equaled. Drinking something that old that is any good would be a treat enough, but something that sublime and extraordinary is hard to believe — and come by.

Connoisseurs, listen up, and get a bottle ASAP; you will not regret it. Imagine, fifteen decades in a cask for something that is beyond perfection. It is rumored that one of the missing pipes of the port went to Winston Churchill. So whether you want to win a war or simply win over someone special or a few select and deserving friends, wait no longer.

Taylor Fladgate 1855 Scion Port comes with a collectible book detailing the wine's remarkable historic journey

Recalling the era in which this Porto was crafted, Scion is bottled in a hand-blown crystal decanter and encased in a nineteenth century-style instrument case with doevetail joinery and handmade fittings. A limited edition book illustrated by acclaimed illustrator and typographer Sarah Coleman, with gold blocking on the cover in an historic Portuguese typeface dating from 1874, tells the story of this wine's remarkable historic journey.

Port Reviews and Features
Top-Rated Ports and Sherries
Portugal Travel Guide

(Updated: 06/20/11 BH)

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