onsdag den 21. maj 2014

Visiting Offley and Quinta do Seixo

During my last visit in Portugal I spent a day with Joana Pais from Sogrape, the company that owns the famous brand Mateus and three big Port producers Offley, Sandeman and Ferreira. Joana suggested that we took a daytrip to the Douro and – knowing the beautifulness of the valley – I off course agreed.

Before driving up, we visited Offley´s lodge in Gaia. After a formal tour around the lodge, winemaker Luis de Sottomayor joined us for a tasting of some of the companies Port. First the entry level with White Port, Ruby and Tawny, where I found the White Port among the better ones with a good balance. Next we had Offley´s 10 years old Tawny. Yellow and with notes from the cask, almonds and vanilla and a nice balance. Fresh, but not with a lot of character. Finally we had LBV 2009 and Vintage 2011. The former unfiltered, dark and with plenty of fruit. Black currant and a bit elderberry in the nose and soft tannins. The latter more dark, powerful and sharp, a great nose of black currant, cassis and a bit coffee, not that deep, but straight forward and tempting. 
Luis de Sottomayor explained that the styles of Sograpes three Port brands are different when it comes to Tawny and Ruby. Among the tawnies Sandeman is the most elegant, Offley more rustic and Ferreira somewhere in between. When it comes to Ruby and Vintage Sandeman is more powerful and robust than the more easy going Offley – and again with Ferreira placed in the middle.
With this introduction we went off to the Douro and arrived at Quinta de Seixo close to Pinhão a couple of hours later, after climbing and crossing the rainy Serra do Marão, the mountain that forms the border between the green Vinho Verde district and the Douro.

Quinta do Seixo was renovated and reopened as a wine and visit Centre in 2007. It has 70 hectares of both old and newly planted vineyards. Inside you pass by a big rock which has not been moved to the place for the exhibition but is a part of the actually rocky hill, which gave the Quinta its name. The tour starts a bit mysterious in the dark, where you can follow guides dressed in the famous cape and hat like Don – the iconic silhouette connected to the Sandeman brand. And it ends in the light in a beautiful tasting room and shop with big windows opening to the sunny view of the Douro Valley. Besides being the visit centre, the Quinta is the main vinification centre for the company’s best Ports and therefore has big robot lagares and modern production facilities.

After a lovely lunch with vegetable soup, octopuses and cheese, served with the fresh and crispy Planalto White and a red Callabrica Douro 2010 – both from Casa Ferreirinha – and finally Offley Colheita 1997, we walked around in the vineyards. Luis de Sottomayor showed a field with Touriga Nacional and one with 80 years old mixed grapes. The old vines give a high quality and are used for the best Ports.  

Before heading back to Porto we enjoyed Sandeman´s range of tawnies. As Luis de Sottomayor explained the style is more elegant and perhaps feminine compared to Offley. I preferred the 20 years Tawny, which was light mahogany, a bit discreet in the nose, but with a splendid taste of almonds and a nice balance. The 30 years was brown with a yellow and green rime, more taste from the cask and some orange peel in the nose, creamier but still well balanced. The 40 years was more intense and concentrated, fat, heavy and creamy. A nice glass to end a lovely day with.

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