mandag den 30. juni 2014

Sandeman with Sandeman

After leaving Burmester Friday, we - the board of The Vintage Port Club – went straight to Sandeman´s lodge a bit down the road. It has been many years since I last visited the lodge, so it was nice to be back. We were kindly welcomed by Ligia Marques and Vasco Magalhães, who showed us part of the museum: Old Port bottles, advertisings and posters with the famous Don and some very beautiful drawings of the good old days.

Then we were invited upstairs to the tasting room, where George Sandman, the 7th generation of the family who founded the company in 1790, joined us. Together we had a tasting of some of the Ports from Sandeman and the two other companies in the Sogrape group. In March this year I visited Offley´s lodge and the year before Ferreira, a company that both I and The Vintage Port Club will like to know much better – both due to the quality of the Port and the impressing history connected with the legendary Dona Antónia Adelaide Ferreira.
The tasting at Sandeman was both vertical and horizontal. First we had Sandeman Vintage 1977, 1994 and 2003 and in the next flight Vintage 2011 from Offley, Ferreira and Sandeman.

Sandeman 1977: Brownish and matured, but still with some acidity. A taste of cedar tree and spices.   
Sandeman 1994: Red berries and fruit, but unfortunately a bit oxidised, lacking some freshness.
Sandeman 2003: A fine balance, nice fruit, blackcurrant and other dark berries. More robust, but a bit closed at the moment.
Sandeman 2011: Black, potent, powerful and concentrated with lots of fresh fruit, blackcurrant, plums, cedar tree and cassis and strong tannins. Impressive now and will sure be great in the future.
Offley 2011: Less complexity, but with a nice taste of plums and black fruit. A fine finish. 
Ferreira 2011: More elegant and more character. Red berries, blackberry and flowers, robust but not hard tannins and a good spiciness with a bit curry. 

After the tasting we had superb lunch with Ligia, Vasco and George. Among other things we had bacalhau in a small packet of bread, duck and a cake with almonds. The wine served was from Casa Ferreirinha, first a white Vinha Grande 2012, then a red Quinta da Leda 2011, a very delicious 30 years Tawny from Sandeman and finally we retasted the bottles from the tasting.

When we left the lodge we were full of impressions after being welcomed like that and spending some hours in good company with great food, wine and last but not least, Port. The tasting proved that the style and in my opinion the quality of Sandeman has improved during the last two decades.

søndag den 29. juni 2014

Port and Revolution

Friday in Porto, our second day, began with a lovely visit to Burmester´s lodge, where Sonja Figueira and winemakers Carla Tiago presented some nice bottles from Sogevinus – the group that beside Burmester owns brands like Cálem, Barros, Kopke, Hutcheson and Feist. Before the tasting we had a short tour around the beautiful restored lodge, which first of all is a visit center for the many tourists and Port lovers. The main building for storing Port is further up behind in Gaia.

This time the tasting took place in a room behind the lodge with a magnificent view to the Don Louis I Bridge. Above there is a terrace, where you can enjoy the Bridge from a more seldom angle and the tasting room below has large windows too the river as well. A lovely place to spend a couple of hours together with nice glasses of Port. 

First we hand a couple of table wines. Kopke Doc White 2013 is made of a blend of Arinto, Gouveio and Rabigato. It is very fresh and straight forward with nice acid and some exotic fruit notes, but perhaps a bit short tail. Kopke Doc Red 2011 is made from typical Douro grapes. Beautiful red, cherries and some spices, nice soft tannins and a long end. 

The followed a nice row of Port.
Burmester Vintager 2011: Young, but drinkable, dark and purple, a nice nose with red fruit and some violet, good fruitiness and some notes of flowers and then a nice long end.
Kopke 10 years Tawny: Mahogany. Some dried fruits in the nose, almonds and fruit and a nice balance.  
Burmester Colheita 1998: Brown, a bit orange in the nose, intense and fruity with cherries and other red berries, a nice balance and some pepper in the end.
Kopke 20 years White: Delicious, elegant and with notes of coconuts, almonds and some orange. Soft in the mouth, but perhaps a bit sharp in the nose.
Kopke Colheita 1989, Dark brown, dried fruit and vanilla, but still with fruit too. Deep.
Kopke 40 years White. A bit sharp in the nose. Still with coconuts, but more character from the oak. Nuts and fruits, a bit orange, nice acidity.
Barros Special Edition Colheita 1974: Released as a celebration of the 40 year anniversary of the revolution and therefore the bottle is decorated with a poem, a hymn to freedom, formed as a carnation. Amber, very well balanced with great fruitiness and lots of almonds. Elegant and delicious.  “Freedom, Evidence of Portuguese Talent”, as the poems says.

After the visit at Burmester we went straight to Sandeman. Report will follow.

fredag den 27. juni 2014

Old Colheitas and Bacalhau

A week ago I was back in Porto – my second visit this year. Lovely.
This time I was here with the board of The Vintage Port Club, and the main reason was the Enthronement Ceremony at the Confraria do Vinho do Porto and the dinner after. But we arrived a couple of days before and off course we spent our time visiting port lodges for meetings and tastings. Everywhere we were welcomed with great hospitality and kindness.

The first day we met Alvaro van Zeller from Barão de Vilar and Maynards, who visited the Club for our annual Winemaker’s Dinners earlier this year. Alvaro kindly poured from his old stocks of Colheita and from bottles in the tasting room. First we had 2003 in two different blends – one of them sweet and heavy with a lot of coconut flavor. Then we had a 10 years white Tawny followed by white colheitas from 2004 and 2003 and colheitas from 1998, 1970, 1963, 1947 and 1934. My favorite again was 1963 with its great balance, but 1947 was great as well, very dark and intense with caramel. 1934 is off course delicious, but for my taste it is a bit too concentrated with its balsamic character. I prefer more freshness like in the 1963.
The visit at Barão de Vilar had another purpose. The Vintage Port Club will celebrate its 25th years Anniversary later this year. The club was established in 1989 by a group of Port lovers. The Anniversary will be celebrated in two ways. We will arrange an international event and a big tasting of Vintage 1994, and at the date of the founding of the Club we will have a tasting of both Vintage and Colheitas from 1989. Besides this we will release our own White Colheita 1989. It is Alvaro van Zeller who has found a cask and blended our Jubilee Port. When we visited him we tasted two different versions and decided which one it should be. We choose the bottle shape and size as well. Now we just have to design labels.

After the visit we were have dinner with Alvaro in the restaurant Bacalhau in Ribeira – a very nice family owned place with good Portuguese cooking.

The next couple of days we visited several Port Lodges. Some reports will follow soon.

tirsdag den 10. juni 2014

Cortes de Cima

In March I went to the Alentejo in Portugal and paid Cortes de Cima a visit. I had a lovely evening there and spent the next day with the Danish-American owners of the quinta, Hans Kristian and Carrie Jorgensen, the chef Bjarne Otto who prepared a lovely dinner and Head Winemaker Hamilton Reis among others. The main purpose of my visit was writing an article for the Danish wine magazine, Vinbladet, which has just been published in the new issue.

Jorgensen’s bought the 365 hectares big estate in 1988 and after a few years growing different vegetables they planted some vines. From the beginning Hans Kristian has been experimenting with different varieties – some with good results, others just for fun. Today their range of wine includes both blends of international and Portuguese varieties and several single grape varieties like Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah, Aragonez, Trincadeira, Petit Verdot and Touriga Nacional.
- It is great fun to make wine based on single varieties. But we don’t produce that much and a lot of people abroad don’t know the Portuguese varieties, says Hans Kristian Jorgensen.

Cortes de Cima’s most well-known and most prestigious wine is called Incógnito and is made of 100 % Syrah. But when they started producing the wine it was not allowed to use Syrah if you wanted to have your wine approved under the DOC system. Hans Kristian planted some stocks anyway and with a good result. Incógnito was born.
- We made the wine illegal for two years, but in 2000 the rules were changed, explains Hans Kristian.

During my visit we had at tour around the lovely estate near Serra do Mendro. We saw some new plantings and passed by the big dam used for water supply. Hans Kristian Jorgensen has a background in mechanical engineering and insists in creating, building and repairing everything including energy supply and recycling of wastewater from the winery.

Finally we ended in the tasting room for at broad tasting. Here are some notes:
Chaminé Branco 2012: Fresh and straight forward, made of a blend of varieties from Cortes de Cima´s new vineyard at the cost. 
Sauvignon Blanc 2012: Nice, fresh and crispy with some more exotic notes.
Cortes de Cima Branco 2012: A blend of Alvarinho, Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier. Fresh lime but with more character and fruit, deeper and with notes from the oak.
Chaminé 2012: Blend of Syrah and Aragonez, fruity and tasty, straight forward, popular in Portugal.
Cortes de Cima 2012: Blend stored on French and American oak. More complexity, fruit and some chocolate, dry and well balanced. Good tail. 
Aragonez 2012: Raw and with lot of tannins. Red berries, a bit eucalyptus and some balsamic. Great potential for storing.
Tricandeira: Green tannins. Some broccoli in the taste and not that much fruit and concentrations. A bit spicy.
Syrah 2011: Cherry and other red berries, a bit vanilla. Well balanced. 
Hans Christian Andersen 2010: A tribute to the Danish author, 100 % Syrah and only made in the best years. Good fruit, fresh and spicy. Some vanilla and a bit toasted from the oak. A very nice glass.
Reserve 2012: A blend of 42 % Aragonez, 32 % Syrah and then some Petit Verdot and Touriga Nacional. 12 months on oak. Very powerful and complex. Red berries and notes from the oak like tobacco.

Read more about Cortes de Cima