Wine Spectator 94 points - Deep, saturated ruby. Initially reticent aromas of dark chocolate and nuts; showed a high-pitched eucalyptus quality as it opened in the glass. Then almost shockingly huge and rich in fruit, with wonderfully lush, complex flavors of cassis, violet, minerals, spices, flowers and exotic chocolate. The tannins are seductively sweet, yet the finish boasts terrific focus, not to mention outstanding persistence. In terms of sheer palate-saturating flavor and texture, this runs a close second to Fonseca among these 2003s. For long aging.
Violets, roses, spices, and candied dark fruits emanate from the glass of the murky black/purple colored 2003 Graham Vintage Port. After four days of air, this wine’s aromatics sweetened further, displaying jammy blackberry and blueberry scents. Bold, full-bodied, and expansive, the Graham benefited the most from extensive contact with air of all the 2003s tasted for this report. This opulently jammy wine assaults the palate with powerful yet soft layers of oily, candied red fruits as well as notes of tar and hints of mocha. A highly concentrated effort, it is creamy textured, suave, and reveals an admirably long finish filled with additional layers of dark fruits intermingled with spices. Projected maturity: 2030-2055.
Loads of tar and blackberry aromas follow through to a full-bodied palate, with medium sweetness, big, velvety tannins and a long finish. A big, juicy wine. Best after 2015. 8,500 cases made. JS
Vintage Ports are only made on very exceptional years (usually three or four times in a decade).
The principal determining factor is the weather in the vineyards which must be ideal throughout the viticultural season and subsequently during the harvest.
Only a few exceptional vineyards in the Upper Douro region produce wines of sufficient body and style to make a true Vintage Port.
After the harvest, wines of Vintage potential are put into oak barrels called 'pipes'. Some eighteen months later a careful and painstaking series of tastings is held to judge exactly which wines of different vineyards merit inclusion in the final blend. If the ideal blend is achieved, the wine is then bottled without any filtration whatsoever approximately 24 months after the original harvest .
Vintage Port must then be matured for some ten to twenty years in cool dark cellars as it gradually achieves the outstanding style of a great wine.