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Port Identification - Berry Bros. & Rudd (BBR)

Berry Bros. & Rudd shop front at 3 St James St., London

Since regulations introduced in 1974 all port must now be bottled in Portugal prior to shipping to the UK. Prior to 1974 it was more typical for the port to be shipped in pipes (barrels of around 550L) which would be transported to the UK and then bottled by a UK merchant. Many such bottlers existed, and often the wine would still be sold either under the original brand with the bottler mentioned in small type: "Fonseca 1966 vintage port, bottled by Berry Bros. & Rudd", or sometimes would be sold under the merchant's own brand, such as "Berry's Own Selection 1970 vintage port, bottled by Berry Bros. & Rudd" (which happened to be Warre's 1970 vintage port).

Fonseca 1966 vintage port, bottled by BBR Berry's Own Selection 1970 (actually Warre 1970) vintage port, bottled by BBR

Berry Bros. & Rudd (BBR) is one such bottler, and a particularly interesting one as they would do both. BBR are a highly regarded wine and spirits merchant based in London, and have a rich history with the trade, being one of the oldest wine merchants in the UK; they are also extremely knowledgeable and helpful, and have a wonderful shop and (several) cellars in St. James Street, London, which are well worth a visit if you have the opportunity.

This page details the information gathered by the author on the the brand of port in "Berry's Own Selection vintage port", and the colour of the capsules known to have been used for bottlings by BBR (whether original brand or Berry's own selection), to aid identification of old unlabelled bottles.


Berry's Own Selection vintage port - supplier by vintage

Table of suppliers for known Berry's Own Selection vintage ports:

VintageSupplier
1935? (unknown; perhaps Taylor)
1947Fonseca
1955Graham
1960Rebello Valente
1963Taylor
1966Warre
1970Warre
1975Quarles Harris
1977Quarles Harris
1980Warre
1983Warre
1985Smith Woodhouse
1991Smith Woodhouse
1994Smith Woodhouse
1997Warre
2000Smith Woodhouse
2003Quinta de la Rosa
2007Graham
2011Graham

Notes:

  1. An original list supplied by BBR to a member of ThePortForum provided the years from 1960 to 2003 per above, except see note 2.
  2. The original BBR-supplied list erroneously indicated 1975 to be Gould Campbell; BBR have subsequently confirmed this was an error.
  3. Earlier and more recent years have been added based on information from labels on bottles seen at auction, and photos sent to me.
  4. According to "the book" (Wiseman, J. D. A. (2018) Port Vintages: The Chronicle of Vintage Ports, from the beginning), Berry's own selection vintage port was also available for vintages 1917, '20, '24, '27 and '35, though no evidence has yet been seen for pre-1935 vintages.
  5. Berry Bros. (pre-Rudd) are known to have bottled Rebello Valente 1927, but is unknown whether this was sold under the Rebello Valente or Berry's own selection brand.
  6. The capsule used on Berrys Own Selection Vintage Port 1935 has been seen at least three times; once on the labelled bottle (supplier unknown, bottle not opened), once on a bottle with no label where the cork indicated it was Taylor '35, and also on several bottles interspersed with other (non-BBR) bottles of Taylor 1935; so BBR at least bottled Taylor 1935, but it is not yet known whether the Berry's Own Selection 1935 was in fact Taylor 1935.


BBR capsule colours

Table of known capsule colours for BBR-bottled vintage ports. These have all been see either directly by myself, or in photo. Where possible I have included a photo of the bottle (or label) and capsule as evidence; there are a small number which I have seen but do not have pictures for, hence some gaps below.

VintageBrandCapsule colourBottle/LabelCapsule
1935(BOS?)TaylorBlack
1947NovalBlack
1947Warre(Black?)
1955CroftSilver
1955FonsecaYellow (vibrant)
1955NovalBlack
1960BOS(Rebello Valente)Silver
1960?DowBlack
1960?Fonseca(unknown)
1960Taylor FladgateBlack
1960SandemanGreen (bright)
1963BOS(Taylor)Red (maroon)
1963CroftOrange (faded red?)
1963DelaforceBlack
1963DowYellow, also Silver/Grey
1963GrahamDark blue
1963?NovalRed (maroon)
1963Rebello ValenteYellow (dark), also Orange (orange-brown)
1963SandemanYellow (bright)
1963Taylor FladgateWhite
1966BOS(Warre)Black
1966CroftDark blue (also Black?)
1966DowOrange, also Yellow (bright)
1966FonsecaGreen
1966Gould CampbellBlack
1966GrahamRed/Bronze
1966NovalRed (maroon)
1966Offley Boa VistaGreen
1966Taylor FladgateRed
1966WarreRed (dark)
1967CockburnBlack
1967Quinta de VargellasRed
1969Quinta de VargellasDark blue
1970BOS(Warre)Pink (salmon)
1970DowPink (salmon)
1970DelaforceOrange/Red, also Pink (salmon)
1970FonsecaPink (salmon), and Orange/Red
1970GrahamPink (salmon)
1970Rebello ValenteOrange
1970SandemanPink (salmon)
1970Taylor FladgatePink (salmon)
1970WarrePink (salmon)

Notes:

  1. The Taylor 1935 had no label and only the (old style) BBR capsule, with shipper/vintage identified from cork; the capsule matches with those seen on Berry's Own Selection 1935 elsewhere already believed to be probably Taylor for other reasons, so it seems likely that this was a Berry's Own Selection 1935, though not yet proven.
  2. The Warre 1947 capsule has not been seen, and from the only available image the apparent capsule could have been rewax, hence though known to exist, colour is listed as Black?
  3. The vintage on the Dow 1960 cork was not completely clear; while fairly sure it was 1960, it might just have been 1950 (though this seems unlikely).
  4. The Noval 1963 listed is from a Sothebys auction, named from cellar records; however it was unlabelled, and without seeing the cork there is the possibility of an error in cellar/auctioneer notes since this would also match Noval '66, so this is only a "perhaps".
  5. The Berry's Own Selection 1967 is labelled "Quinta de Vargellas" with no mention of Taylor on the label, which is unusual.

If any reader has additional knowledge, and particularly if they can supply images of bottle/label/capsule as evidence for other BBR bottlings, I would be very pleased to hear from you.