Welcome to this latest chapter of MWH Wine’s guide to the finest vintage Port shippers.  In this blog we turn our attention to Croft, the oldest of all Port shippers and one which offers a striking combination of quality and value.

At MWH Wine, vintage Port isn’t just our business, it’s our passion.  Over the decades we have been fortunate enough to taste thousands of wines from dozens of shippers.  We’ve enjoyed everything from cask samples of young glories such as the 1997s through to venerable old wines including the 1963s by way of fabled idiosyncrasies such as that rarest of Port gems, Quinta do Noval’s Nacional.  

Such a breadth of tasting experience, coupled with more than a little research into these fascinating fortified fine wines, has left us well-placed to answer one of the most frequently asked questions regarding Port: Which is the best shipper?

While this ultimately this is a question of personal taste – are you seeking power or finesse? Elegance or flamboyance?  Immediacy or longevity? – there some producers that have over the years placed themselves above their peers by producing wines that have something extra special about them. 

In total these uber producers number around dozen or so and their consistent brilliance makes them the only true pretenders to the best shipper crown.  In this latest MWH Wine blog as to which is the best vintage Port producer, we’ll follow on from posts on Graham, Dow, Taylor’s, Fonseca and Quinta do Noval and turn our attention to the region’s most venerable shipper, Croft.

Croft Vintage Port: Brilliance Since 1588

Despite being the oldest still-active shipper, Croft isn’t the best-known.  Its name is certainly familiar to wine lovers by virtue of it being the same as one of the most famous commercial brands of Sherry  (with which it has little else in common).  Despite its venerable age, Croft has a tradition of innovation and experimentation both in terms of winemaking and the wines that it has brought to market.   Perhaps more than any other shipper, they have done much to rid Port of its stuffy, ‘Port is for Christmas’ image. 

Despite this sense of adventure, at its heart Croft remains dedicated to the production of exceptional quality wines.  From its everyday drinking ruby to its range unusual ‘any occasion’ Ports through to its often-glorious vintage wines, quality shines through at every level.

Like most shippers its vintage wines are based around a single estate – in this case the superb Quinta  de Roeda.  Roeda is home to some of the oldest vines in the Douro, vines that impart a richness and a depth of flavour that makes their top wines so special.

Croft’s Style

Vintages will obviously play a significant part in styling individual declarations, but in broad terms Croft’s style can be summarised as full-bodied, generously fruited, rich and often showing a distinctive minerality.  Of course, you’d expect Port to be a richly fruited, slightly decadent wine but this seems to be a notion that Croft has taken to another level.  It may not be able to match Taylor’s for power, Warre’s for elegance or Graham for complexity, but if you are looking for a vintage Port that is luxurious and full of fruity charm, then Croft is a very good shipper to go for.  Even in leaner years such as 1975 or 1983, their wines are well-endowed crowd-pleasers.

Which Vintages To Go For?

In common with the other contenders to the vintage Port throne, Croft’s unerring commitment to quality means that if a vintage is declared then you are assured of a great bottle.  Given their style some years – 1970, 1985 and 1997 – make for excellent choices.  Other vintages to also give serious consideration to include:

1935,1945, 1955, 1963, 1970, 1977, 1985, 1991, 1997, 2000, 2007, 2009, 2011

A common thread with Croft is affordability.  For reasons that we have yet to fully fathom, these wines offer truly excellent value for money and you can try great wines from great vintages – such as the hedonistic 1985 for around £50 a bottle.

Croft: Port Royalty?

If you a looking for a Port with pleasing power then Croft is an excellent shipper to choose.  As we have said, they may not have the level of sophistication that some of the other great shippers exhibit, nor are their wines dramatic powerhouses.  No, Croft is all about enjoyment, about wines that are wonderfully drinkable and surprisingly affordable to boot so maybe they are the people’s princes?  These are certainly wines that deserve more attention and are well worth seeking out.

Like Some Vintage Port Help?

If you are looking for a specific wine then please get in touch by calling Mike on 0118 984 4654 or by emailing MWH Wines here.  A recognised authority on these wines, he’ll be happy to advise you on which wine is right for you.