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Fonseca Bin No. 27 Finest Reserve

Review: Fonseca Bin No. 27 Finest Reserve  (90/100)
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Published on July 05, 2017

Fonseca traces its origins to an entry dated to the 8th of April 1815 which was  found in the ledgers of the Real Companhia Velha. The entry records a purchase of Port pipes by the founder, João dos Santos Fonseca. His first documented sale occurred on 14th September, 1815, followed in 1816 by his first overseas shipment. Today the house is owned by The Fladgate Partnership, who also own Taylor’s Port (Taylor Fladgate), and Croft’s.

Although Fonseca is well-known to collectors for their outstanding Vintage Port, the flagship of the brand is Bin 27. This blend was launched in Britain about 40 years ago at a time when Port wine was evolving from a style of predominantly young immature wines. The requirement to decant the wine and finish the bottle before oxidation impaired its flavour meant that Vintage Port Wines were not necessarily the best choice for casual consumption. Fonseca developed a new wine the called ‘Vintage Character’ by blending across different vintages achieving a wine which was consistent in style from one bottling to the next. This new wine shared the same character of the popular Fonseca Vintage Ports; however it could be served directly from the bottle with no need to decant or strain the fines from the bottle.

Fonseca decided to call the new blend Bin 27 and within five years of its introduction it was being sold throughout the World (in almost 30 countries). Today the brand is sold as Fonseca Bin No. 27 Finest Reserve.

In the Bottle 4/5

A bottle of Fonseca Bin No. 27 Finest Reserve is pictured to the left. The bottle is dark green with a solid corked (plastic topped) closure. This style of closure is meant for those wines which are not required to age in the bottle and are ready to be served.

I have to admit a bit of disappointment always creeps in when I look at the Port wine bottles on my wine rack in my cold room. They are all rather plain-looking. For those familiar with the prestige of the Fonseca Brand, the bottle is probably sufficient to garner their attention. However, in my locale where Port Wines are not nearly as popular it would perhaps be a benefit to consumers to provide more information on the label and a label with more ‘pop’ might help sales. (I did like the metal canister which provides some of that ‘pop’.)

In the Glass 22.5/25

The Fonseca Bin No. 27 looks positively luscious in the wine glass. At the center of the glass the wine displays a deep purplish plum colour which at the top of the crest reveals a red tinged purple meniscus. The nose is rich and fruity with aromas of dark BC Cherries, ripe sliced plums, juicy blackberries and dark black currants. There is a spiciness in the breezes which reminds me of raisins, some twig-like tannins and grape skins as well as hints of cocoa which compliment the ripe fruitiness of the wine.

In the Mouth 44.5/50

In a previous review I mentioned that the “SIX GRAPES” Port from W&J Graham is my go to Port Wine for special occasions. I think I just might have changed my mind on that account as the Bin 27 seems to have upped the ante. The flavour is full and fruity with flavours of fresh blackberries and juicy plums and tart earthy black currants. Within these dark berry flavours is a light raisin-like spiciness with twig-like tannins and christmas fruitcake. Hints of chocolate and light impressions of Oolong tea round out the flavour profile which has me quickly pouring a larger glass to enjoy.

I had a variety of Valrhona Chocolate samples to nibble and taste as I sampled the Port wine, and so I thought I wouod try to select a nice pairing for the Bin No. 27 Finest Reserve: Valrhona is a chocolate maker who specializes creating special chocolate treats from selected rare cocoas from around the world. Each selected cacao has its own unique taste characteristic which allows you to find just the right compliment for your wine choice.

I selected the Valrhona Manjari, which is made from a blend of rare Criollo and Trinitario beans from Madagascar. It features a full 64% cacao with hints of red fruit in the flavour profile. When paired with the Fonseca Bin 27 Finest Reserve, the rich chocolate flavour of the Manjari and the full fruity flavour of the Port wine was a match made in heaven.

In the Throat 13.5/15

The wine coats the palate allowing the flavours to linger. The rich fruity berry flavours fade first leaving a flavour of dry raisins behind which have a light (almost cinnamon-like) spiciness. Flavours of dark chocolate and tea leaves linger as well. When I return to my empty glass, I notice that the fruit-filled bouquet of ripe berries has become even more inviting. One glass is surely not sufficient.

My Final Impressions 4.5/5

The Fonseca Bin 27 Finest Reserve has raised the bar in the Ruby Port category. The flavours I have experienced in my glass seem more in tune with the rich character of a great LBV Port Wine. As indicated earlier in the review, I think I have found a new ‘special occasion’ Port wine.

If you are interested in some comparative reviews, here is a link to all of my Port Wine Reviews!


Note: My Wine Scores are computed in the same manner as my scores for distilled spirits. This means that my total score out of 100 is generally lower than what you would see in popular wine rating magazines. (Those magazines appear to have a system which scores almost all wines at 85 points or more.)

My system which is described below and you may (loosely) interpret my scores as follows:

0-25     A wine with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49   Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59  You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69   Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74    A mediocre wine which will excite no one.
75-79    You may begin to serve this to friends, still rather unexciting.
80-84    Enjoyment begins here.
85-89    Very good to excellent!
90-94    You may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+       I haven’t met this one yet…but I want to.


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