1863 launch follows growing tawny demand

4th June, 2014 by Gabriel Stone

Taylor’s managing director Adrian Bridge highlighted a growing global demand for aged tawny Port as he launched the house’s 1863 Single Harvest at the London Wine Fair yesterday.

Taylor's MD Adrian Bridge unveiled the 1863 at an aged tawny masterclass during this year's London Wine Fair

Taylor’s MD Adrian Bridge unveiled the 1863 at an aged tawny masterclass during this year’s London Wine Fair

“Last year for the first time aged tawny went over half a million cases,” he reported from Instituto dos Vinhos do Douro e Porto (IVDP) figures, equating this to around €55 million, or 15% of the Port industry’s total turnover. However, Bridge noted that in volume terms this category represents just 5.7% of overall Port sales.

While France dominates sales of 10-year old tawny, the US represents a major source of demand for 20-year-old and older tawny expressions. UK demand currently peaks with 30-year-old tawny expressions, accounting for 16% of this market, with around half that demand for 20 and 40-year old styles.

Noting the relatively small proportion of the total Port market represented by aged tawny, Bridge put global sales for 40-year-old styles at just 3,400 cases, or €3.5m of which around 250 cases are sold in the UK.

However, he continued, “Last year the strongest overall growth was for 30-year-old at 8.6%.” Due to the lengthy maturation period required for these aged styles, Bridge noted: “It becomes a major challenge to manage and plan your stock.”

For the oldest tawny expressions, Asia is now a major source of demand, with Bridge citing strong interest from this part of the world for the 1964 single harvest, or colheita, that was introduced by the company earlier this year.

As a reflection of this Asian interest, Bridge was at Vinexpo Hong Kong last week to show the 1863 release for the first time, with a further event planned in New York today.

Drawn from tawny stocks acquired when Taylor’s parent company The Fladgate Partnership bought Wiese & Krohn last year, the 1863 has been matured in the favourably humid coastal conditions of Vila Nova de Gaia – in contrast to the Douro-matured 1855 Scion, which the house released in 2010.

 

Describing 1863 as “the last great vintage year prior to phylloxera hitting the Douro”, Bridge noted: “it’s virtually impossible to find any vintage Port from that time so we have to look at these tawnies as our time capsule.”

Currently being bottled into 1,600 specially made decanters, the 1863 tawny is due for release at the end of July with an RRP of £3,000.

In contrast to vintage Port, Bridge highlighted the long drinking window for tawny after the bottle has been opened, thanks to its oxidative maturation in cask. “It’s a wine to sip and enjoy over a number of months,” he remarked. “Once open, the Port is back in its natural environment and should be able to stay open for a number of years.”

Linking the recent flurry of rare aged tawny releases from Taylor’s to the wider growth in demand for this style, Bridge claimed “they have brought a lot of interest to the category.”

While acknowledging that most of the 1863 is likely to be bought by collectors, he confirmed that a number of bottles had been kept back in order to reach a wider audience through tasting events.

 

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