Although Seattle and its suburbs combine to make for a rather small burg in the midst of the many larger cities in the USA we are taken seriously as a Port market. Many people from the trade say that the Seattle-metro area is one of their top 5 markets in the country. My consumption alone has nothing to do with that, but hopefully the climate and fact that we have a couple of top Port importers here and that FTLOP has gained a loyal local following ... has helped to increase the market share of Port sales here.
What is great to see is that from Quevedo, to the Symington's and The Fladgate Partnership … we are seeing more and more attention in the local market by their family members and importer/distributor reps. It is helping to grow the market and there's no question about the impact this type of visibility has for the long term growth of a brand or portfolio. Yesterday, Dominic Symington visited the area and after some visits to key accounts, he spent two hours meeting and greeting local Port lovers and merely those curious to learn more about Port. There were about 40-50 people who showed up, about five or six of which were either regular or new FTLOP members. Dominic had his NW Regional Manager Christine Bradburn with him from PPW (Premium Port Wines) and his national VP of Sales & Marketing from PPW as well and a few clerks from Pete's Wine Shop in Bellevue where the event took place.
This was a great opportunity for local consumers to get a feel for the 2007 Vintage Ports which are starting to make their way into the USA. Special pricing was offered and I will list them here so others may comment on prices they see in other parts of the USA … although these prices were only available during the event. First the 2007 lineup and their pricing … please know that WA State due to the fact we have no State Income Tax, makes that up on wine with a "luxury tax" which makes buying wine especially expensive here normally. So for "us" these prices were quite amazing, although we realize they'll probably be less expensive elsewhere in the USA:
- 2007 Smith Woodhouse - $48
- 2007 Warre's - $62
- 2007 Quinta do Vesuvio - $60
- 2007 Dow's - $60
- 2007 Graham's - $70
Each of the 2007s was paired with an older bottle of Vintage Port from each of the above shippers too, and here are the prices offered during the event:
- 2003 Smith Woodhouse - $39.95
- 1980 Warre's - $91.95
- 1994 Quinta do Vesuvio - $84.95
- 1985 Dow's - $96.95
- 1991 Graham's - $70
Of the 2007s, I truly enjoyed the Dow which is a wonderful VP, closely followed by the Warre's and then a tie between Vesuvio and Graham's, with Smith Woodhouse also showing nicely but behind the others. Please note that these were "snapshot views" although I did try each of these twice during the course of the 2 hours, to make sure to get as much consistency as possible in my tasting notes that will appear at some point in the future.
In terms of the older Vintage Ports: 1985 Dow's was my POTN nearly perfect for its age, followed by the 1994 Vesuvio which was a kinder and gentler version with unreal, soft tannins for a change. I detected and reported two 1980 Warre's were corked and a third bottle was opened and it was much more to my liking (of course) although not a great showing of a Port that I typically am enamored by. The 1991 Graham's was showing a hint of premature oxidation on the two bottles I got to try. Not bad, but not typical showings either. The 2003 Smith Woodhouse was probably the biggest surprise of the tasting for me. I have not had this in several years but this was showing amazingly well and given the price offered, I helped sell quite a bit of it. : )
It was great to see Dominic again, as literally two weeks ago to the day of the tasting, Derek and I had lunch with Dom in Porto. It was great seeing him on local soil and I have a bottle of great Madeira (which I know that he loves) with his name on it, for the next time he can return to the area and take time to have dinner at our home! Look on the Forum, as I have posted all of the other cities that Dominic will be visiting this week. It would be great if there was an outpouring of support from FTLOPers in those cities!