mandag den 16. december 2013

Eusébios 70th

Benfica and Port. I like both of them, and recently I had the opportunity to experience the combination. No, I was not drinking port at Estádio da Luz… I tasted a Port wine released as a tribute to the legend of football, Eusébio, when he turned 70 last year.
The Black Panther, as Eusébio was nicknamed, was born in 1942 in Lourenço Marques (Maputo), Mozambique. At first he played football in a local club called Os Brasileiros. Here he was scouted by the Italian club Juventos, but he declined. Instead he chose his favourite team Benfica and moved to Lisbon when he was 18 years old. He played for Benfica until 1975 and managed to win 11 national championships, 5 Cup finals and one Europe Cup final. All in all he scored 638 goals in 614 matches for As Águias – The Eagles.   
During Estado Nova, Salazar decided that the colonies were overseas provinces, and because of that Eusébio could join the Portuguese national team in 1961. During the following years he scored 41 goals in 64 matches for the team. Most legendary was the 1966 World Cup in England, where Portugal ended as 3rd. Eusébio was the top scorer of the tournament with 9 goals, and 4 of them in the match against North Korea. Portugal was behind 0-3, but the final result was 5-3 to Portugal (link below). 
The legend still visits Estádio da Luz, when Benfica is playing, and there is a statue of him in front of the entrance.
At a tasting in The Vintage Port Club his profile and his signature was on the label of one of the bottles of Port on the menu.  
”Eusébio 70th” is a 30 years Tawny from Quinta das Gregocas, near Sambrosa in the Douro. They released exactly 638 Magnums – one for each goal he made for Benfica!
The Port wine was light red brown, some spirit in the nose, dry fruits, floral notes and notes from the oak as well. It was not that powerful and did not have a broad palette compared with others 30 years Tawnies. Drinkable, but I must admit that the history behind and the nice design was more exciting that the port itself.
The tasting was the clubs Christmas tasting, where we usual have Tawny and Colheitas. Here is the full list as they were served:

Maynard Colheita 1982
Feist Colheita 1983
Vista Alegre 30 years Tawny
Kopke Colheita 1984
Kopke 40 years Tawny
Pocas 40 years Tawny
Grahams 40 years Tawny
Andresen 40 years Tawny
Burmester Colheita 1957
Quinta das Gregocas Eusébio 70th
Cristiano van Zellers Millennium Port, Colheita 1880
Feuerheerd Colheita 1990

The best wines in my opinion were Maynard 1982, Kopke 1984, Kopke 40 years, Burmester 1957 and the Millennium Port. Both Kopke and Maynard (Barão de Vilar) are making very good Tawnies with age and Colheitas. It is told, that The Millennium Port was made of wine from a pipe, Cristiano van Zeller found, when he was out visiting Quintas in search for old lagares. He bough it and added some Niepoort Vintage 1945 – and it was approved by the Port and Douro Wines Institute. It was bit unclear, but full of brown sugar, dried plums, cinnamon and burned figs. Powerful but with a short finish.

tirsdag den 3. december 2013

Dry White and Golden White Colheita

Among the different types of port, White Port seems to have less attention. The common opinion is that they are useful as aperitifs either with or without tonic water. Or when it comes to the sweet ones, typically named Lagrima, they can go well with sweet desserts. But without debts and quality and perhaps even the new type, Rosé Port, is trendier with all its youthfulness.
But White Port can be good quality as well. In a matter of fact when it is aged it can be splendid. In connection with the port festival at Børsen in Copenhagen in November, Henrik Oldenburg invited Jim Reader from C. da Silva who owns Dalva Port to comment a tasting of 10 different ports among which eight were white. Dalva is not a name that we hear a lot about when it comes to ruby and Vintage Port. Its specialities are Tawny with age and recently White Port. C da Silva was founded in 1862, when Clemente da Silva moved to Portugal from Brazil. Jim Reader started in the company as a consultant when he left Cockburn’s after the Symington’s bought the company. 
Dalva is selling standard ruby and tawny to countries like Germany, Belgium, Holland and France. And then they have huge stockings of both red and white Colheita – and that was the reason why Jim Reader moved to the company, he told us.
Here is what we tasted:

Dry White: Dry but not among the driest White Port (sugar contest 45 g/l). Light and a bit golden in colour. A nose with lots of lemon, elderflower and a bit peach. Elegant and fresh.
Dry White Reserva: 6-7 years on oak. Yellow and with a darker impression in the nose. Slightly toasted and typically notes from the oak. Sweeter (60 g/l) and without the same freshness.
10 years Dry White: Golden. More complexity and less toasted. A fine balance between sweetness, fruit and acid. Nice, long tail.
20 years Dry White: A bit brown in the golden colour. Close to a tawny character. Some orange, figs and raisins in the nose. Orange, almonds and honey in the taste. Nice acidity.
40 years Dry White: New on the marked. Light red and brown. A bit shy in the nose in the beginning, but with power and full-bodied. Still fruity and then of course notes from the oak. A very nice glass, but lighter in the style than a red 40 years tawny.
Golden White Colheita 1971: More sweetness and a different bouquet. A bit toasted, almonds and vanilla from the oak. Still with acid.
Golden White Colheita 1963: A great wine from a great vintage. Darker and more brown. More heavy in the nose, but still fresh in the mouth. Dry fruit and honey. Sweet, but with acidity as well. Good balance.
Golden White Colheita 1952: Very powerful and with more acidity, which makes it crisp and fresh. Caramel, honey and vanilla and a long, beautiful aftertaste.
Colheita 1966: Brown with brown sugar and almonds. More spirit and acidity.
Colheita 1975: Cherries in the nose, fruit, brown sugar, nuts and almonds and with quite some sweetness.

As written above, we had a couple of red Colheitas to compare with after the white ones. And the latter did very well. Lighter with more freshness and elegance. And we could see how the colour of the wine was closer as we went back in time, even though the two red Colheitas were a bit more red brown.
Jim Reader told us, that Dalva wants to send a Golden White on the marked each decade. When it comes to the 80s, they still have not decided which year to choose. I don’t know, what they have in their lodge, but 83 or 84 could be possibilities. In general white grape varieties are showing their best in a bit cooler years. High temperature can result in over ripeness. But when it comes to a year like 1963 it was splendid for both red and white grapes, Jim Reader told us.
After the tasting of Dalva, we went through 27 different examples of vintage 2011. I did not taste all and didn’t take notes, but among them I will shortly recommend Ferreira 2011, Niepoort and Niepoort Bioma, Taylor and Ramos Pinto.  
At the Port Festival afterwards I noticed more white ports than usual. Ferreira brought a fine 10 years white, Andresen had some nice examples as usual and so did Niepoort and Santa Eufemia. I am pretty sure, that more companies will produce White Port with age in the future. It will never gain a big market share, but I think that there is a growing interest for Colden Colheitas. Especially if the quality is high like those from Dalva.

Read more about Dalva here:

And about the Port Festival at Børsen here: