During my visit in Porto in June with fellow board members of The Vintage Port Club we visited some port lodges as well. First we went to Graham’s, then Barão de Vilar, Sogevinus (at Cálems lodge), Noval and finally Ramos Pinto.
Among the many port tasted, I will mention some highlights.
Gustavo Devesas served the new range of tawny from Graham’s. They are all very soft, smooth and drinkable. At first I thought that the gap between the 20 and the 30 years was too small, but after a while the 30 years Tawny gained a lot with its fresh orange and almonds and nice acid to balance the sweetness. After that we had two splendid Colheitas: The 1969 and the 1952 – the latter made for Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee. Sweet, but with good acid to balance.
Among the new Vintage 2011 from the Symington’s, we tasted Warre’s, Dows, Cockburn, Graham’s, Graham’s The Stone Terraces, Quinta do Vesuvio and Quinta do Vesuvio Capela. A good flight among the many vintages declared from the already praised year. Warre’s was deep purple, with a lot of cherries and blackberries and ripe tannins. Graham’s more sweet, rich and fruity and very promising. Graham’s The Stone Terraces is made from two schist stone-terraced vineyards at Quinta dos Malvedos. The result is a rich, fruity, concentrated and vinous port, powerful and with some mint. Vesuvio was dark and very powerful too with both acid and strong tannins. You can find some of the same in Capela, but the addition of Sousão and a bit Alicante Bouschet makes it different to. More heavy and tight, but fresh at the same time, spicy and with pepper in a long finish.
At Barão de Vilar Mariana Rocha Ferreira and Álvaro van Zeller served a broad range of their fine Colheitas – from 2005 and back to 1939. The highlights were: 1982, well balance with brown sugar, almonds and chocolate. 1962, powerful with a long tail full of pepper. 1963, dark and powerful with a lot of fruit and a splendid acid to make a great balance. 1934, surprisingly dark, a nice burned taste with some liquorice. The last two were poured directly from the cask. Barão de Vilar sure proved their quality, when it comes to Coheitas in the more Portuguese and rustic style compared to Graham’s.
In Calem’s beautiful lodge Sónia Figueira and winemaker Carlos Alves from Sogevinus welcomed us with two flights from one of their minor brands Hutcheson – minor in quantity but not quality. And this time the vintages were served before the tawnies. Carlos explained that in his opinion it is easier to clean the mouth from the strong tannins with bread and water than to clean the nose after the Tawnies.
We had a LBV from 2003 followed by a young but promising Vintage 2003 and a Vintage 2000. The latter was drinkable already, more dry and with minerals, but with less tannins that the 2003. After that followed Colheita 2004, Colheita 2000, 20 years Tawny and Colheita 1984. The first a bit too young, 2000 very smooth with nuts and orange. The 20 years was sweeter that the Colheitas but very nice. The best glass sure was the 1984 with an impressive amount of acid to balance.
Noval does not have a lodge in Gaia - just a small store. Here we tried a couple of good and powerful table wines and then some port: Their reserve called Black and LBV 2007, followed by 10, 20 and 40 years Tawny and finally Noval Vintage 2011 and Noval Nacional Vintage 2011. Both the vintages were very rich and powerful. Noval had a lot of fruit, blackberries and pepper in the end. Nacional was nearly ink, a little shy in the nose, but so rich and intense that it nearly felt like an explosion in the mouth, sharp and with good acid.
Finally at Ramos Pinto Ana Rato presented both rubies and tawnies as well: LBV 2008 – one of the best LBV´s with a lot of power and juicy fruit, Single Quinta Vintage 2007 from Ervamoira and the vintage from the same year. The former more dry and spicy and with a lot of mint in the nose. The latter sweater, darker and with a more deep pallet. Then followed their range of aged Tawny, 10 years, 20 years and 30 years. They always impress me with their good balance between sweetness with almonds and freshness with acid, orange and acid. I range them among the best tawnies at all.