The 50 year category was launched in 2022 after discusions between production, trade and technical services of the IVDP itself, who sought to adapt and update regulation 242/2010 to include new categories ('50 year old' and 'very very old' ) with the aim of re-invigorating Port sales and allowing producers with historic stock of older Port, an opportunity to realise the value of their wines. Naturally, these are targeted towards the 50 year old anniversary market, which Taylor's successfully exploited with their single harvest releases. The 'fifty years' is an average age and may be a blend of several vintages and indeed previous batches of 50 year old. The wine maker is trying to achieve a consistent style so that whenever a bottle is purchased it will taste the same as previous bottlings.
There are significant costs involved in keeping these wines in cask for such a long amount of time. Over a 50 year period approximately two thirds of the wine will evaporate (called the 'angels share'), which when combined with the capital tied up in the stock, the labour involved in racking and caring for the wines in barrel, makes this category very expensive. Most producers have opted to limit production so as to ensure that these wines will still be made in future generations, what is not known at this stage is the impact that this category will have on the 40 and 30 year old market.
At Vintage Wine and Port, we have had the oportunity to taste many of the new 50-year old releases and we have been blown away by the quality on offer for both the Tawny and White 50 year olds. In general, these wines are massivly concentrated and immensly complex. Beyond this it is difficult to attribute a generic 'note ' as the producers have made some very profound wines and we would urge the reader to consult the individual tasting notes.
Storage and Serving Barrel-aged Ports should be stored upright and will not improve with additional cellaring - nor should they degrade. Aged white and tawny Ports should not require decanting. We recommend serving slightly chilled in a white wine glass so that the aromas can develop. THe Port has already been oxidised in the barrel so, once opened, the wine will last a few months in a restoppered bottle.