I’ve seen in a TN (by Nicos ;) that they double decanted a vintage port of ";only"; a bit more than 30 years old.
Usually I’ve read the vintage ports are decanted carefully just to separate the wine and the sediments, but it’s the first time I’ve seen that it’s not only decanted, but double decanted to force the fruit to appear. Well, I’ve read it with vintage with no more than 5-6 years....
Anyhow, is this kind of decanting a common practice with this kind of ports?
Thanks and regards,
Decanting Port is necessary for two reasons. The first one is, as you correctly point out, to separate the sediment from the wine to make it drinkable. Old Vintage Port has the most sediment of any wine that I can think of, so this is essential.
Secondly, Port needs to breathe so that it can open up. The oxygen will soften the spirit as the fruit opens up and also it gains colour. You can try this experiment by decanting a bottle of Port and watching it evolve over several hours. I tried this with a Dow 1980 recently and it was amazing to see the changes. The colour change really surprised me, as it was a dark red to start with, then turned virtually black with air.
It does depend on the age of the Port. For example, I would decant a great Port like 1994 Fonseca for 10-12 hours, while the Fonseca 1970 I only gave 6 hours to. I took a personal TN on the 70 Fonseca when I first opened and decanted it and it was very good but the spirit was showing a little on the nose and palate. After being double decanted for 6 hours, the spirit was not noticeable and the fruit was more open and softer.
I have to say that this decanting time is rarely discussed in books or magazines.