Graham’s Vintage Ports Perform Magnificently at Christie’s Auction

The ‘Graham’s Grenadier’, a symbolic figure used by Graham’s for advertising its Ports in the 1920s and which also named a range of the company’s wines.

Several lots of Graham’s Vintage Ports were auctioned yesterday, Wednesday November 7th, at a fine wine auction organized by Christie’s in Amsterdam, Holland. Borrowing freely from an advertising slogan from a Graham’s 1920s publicity placard (see left): “Ten, Twenty, Thirty, Forty, Fifty Years Ago — and still something to make a song about!” Indeed, a very rare lot of six bottles of Graham’s 1945 Vintage (a wine now 67 years old), was auctioned for €6,325 ($8,099), approximately double the value estimated and indicated in the official auction catalogue. Expensive perhaps, but considering the exceptional quality of this legendary Vintage Port, no doubt the buyer will be satisfied with this acquisition. The 1945 is an exceptional year and was bottled in relatively small quantities due to the difficult trading conditions in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War. This makes the 1945 a very rare wine, increasingly difficult to find. Despite its near 7 decades of age, this Port is still remarkably vital and immensely pleasurable to drink. A wine that leaves the drinker with an unforgettable impression on the palate.

The Graham’s 1945, bottled in Oporto (in 1947) — a break with tradition as most Vintage Ports up until then had been bottled by the importing wine merchants. This reflected the difficulties faced by them in the post WW2 period.

Another well placed Vintage Port was Graham’s unusual 1970 ‘Tappit Hen’ (triple, or 210cl bottle), several lots of which were sold, with the auctioneer’s hammer closing the highest bid at €1,350 ($1,767) — that’s nearly four times above the indicated price estimate. Other strong performers were the Graham’s 1994 and the Graham’s 2000 Vintage, the latter a Wine Spectator 98 point scorer and widely acknowledged as the finest 2000 Vintage Port produced by any house. Interestingly, bidders were keen to snap up the larger bottle sizes, such as a 6 litre bottle of 1994 (sold for €2,200) and a remarkable 15 litre bottle of the 2000 Vintage (seems like somebody is going to be inviting a large number of friends around to share the glories of this superb wine…). Then again, the 2000 is still quite young, with a long career ahead of it. On the other hand, the 1994 — another twentieth century Graham’s classic is beginning to drink remarkably well, although it too will repay keeping for at least another two to three years, to be enjoyed at its very best.