1983 is not among the best port vintages and overshadowed by 1985. But in a matter of fact some of the wines have received good reviews, e.g. James Suckling, who in his book Vintage Port gives Cockburn 97 point.
Scores like that is of course not objective, but a matter of personal preferences and other circumstances. But Cockburn was the overall winner too, when The Vintage Port Club in Denmark recently tasted 14 different versions of vintage 1983. A fine tasting with some good bottles, but with some disappointments as well – due to a couple of corked bottles.
Roy Hersh among others mentions that Cockburn has a lot of defect bottles in that year. Apparently we were lucky, both our bottles were fine. Dark mahogany, a little resistant in the nose, but with a lot of dark berries and vanilla. Deep and powerful.
The tasting was blind, which led to some surprises. Dow is usually among the best of the vintage, but did not perform well this evening. Pale with some cherry, but without power at all. I would never have guessed it was a Dow. Another disappointment in my opinion was Fonseca, which smelled bad and did not taste a lot better. And it did not get better.
The evening’s second place was split between Nieport and Smith Woodhouse. I myself had Taylor as a favourite followed by Graham, Warre, Niepoort, Ramos Pinto and Cockburn.
Taylor was well balanced and ready for drinking, but perhaps not with a long life ahead. Niepoort was a bit hidden in the nose, but with a long tail with pepper and nice tannins. Ramos Pinto and Warre still had a lot of power and tannins too.
Some of the wines performed well, but 1983 will never be a classic or top vintage. Too many disappointments, and quit a lot of wines, e.g. Borges and Feist, had the best of their lives behind them.
The Vintage Port Club normally votes after a tasting. The participants are giving the best wine 3 point, the second best 2 point and the third 1 point. This was the result:
Cockburn: 23 point
Niepoort and Smith Woodhouse: 20 point
Ramos Pinto, Warre and Gould Campell: 18 point
Taylor: 13 point
Graham, Fonseca and Quarles Harris: 11 point
Feist 5 point
Borges and Ferreiras Quinta do Seixo: 2 point
Dow: 0 point