This month FTLOP is proud to introduce you to Beatriz Machado
Opting for a wine education at UC Davis has served Beatriz well. Along with her dedication to learning everything she could about the wines of the world, Beatriz then landed one of the greatest jobs in all of Portugal! How many people get to create a 25,000 bottle cellar filled with international wine gems from scratch, in less than 20 months? Read more …
Here is Beatriz’s story:
1. How did you break into the Porto and Douro wine trade and at what age?
I would have to say it is in my “rootstocks”! Both sides of my family were great wine enthusiasts.
But it was only after studying viticulture and enology, working in production, traveling through vineyards in the US, Australia, Spain, France, Germany, Italy, South Africa and taste what is done in the rest of the world, that made me value the great product and heritage that Portugal has.
Twenty four years later and at the age of 29, I accepted the challenge to be the first Wine Director of a 5-star wine hotel in Portugal and joined The Yeatman team. Since June 2010, I have selected and now manage a 25,000-bottle wine cellar, which stocks the world’s most comprehensive collection of Portuguese table wines and Ports.
2. What is your favorite style of Douro wine and also Port to drink at home, and can you name two or three of the greatest one’s you’ve ever tried?
Each wine is unique. It tells a story, it can be brief or long. It brings out memories and takes you on a journey through different flavors and places.
It is difficult to name a style. I always look for a personality in each wine. I tend to go for blended reds. I find much more layers and flavors in the complexity of Douro’s heritage, with all the different varietals which make a Douro red different from any other wine in the world. It has the complexity of orchestra with several “music instruments”.
At home: my number one rule is to always keep a 10 or 20 year Old Tawny bottle in the fridge door and custard pastry in the freezer. Whenever someone drops by unexpectedly for dinner you will have the best dessert and port pairing in the world!
Greatest ones I have ever tried:
- Taylor’s Scion Very Old Tawny Port, 1855
- Graham’s Private Cellar Vintage 1970
- Taylor’s Vintage 1963
- Fonseca Vintage 1992
- Dow’s Vintage 1980
3. Besides wines from your own company, what others do you most enjoy drinking?
German and Alsace Whites – Rieslings mainly. Littorai and Lynmar Pinots from California; Pomerol and St. Emillion blends from Bordeaux, and both Terrantez and Bual Madeiras.
4. What brings you the most joy in what you do within the Douro wine trade?
When we are able to exceed the Yeatman guests’ expectations, providing a unique sensory experience of food and wine.
5. Would you please share one piece of unique trivia or historical information about your company that would be new to FTLOP readers?
The Yeatman is named after Dick Yeatman, a Port personality who in the 1920's introduced the first varietal plantings at Quinta de Vargellas in the Douro Superior. In 1934 Dick Yeatman created the first Dry White Port wine, Taylor's Chip Dry, made from traditional white grape varieties, fermented for longer than usual to give it an appetizingly crisp dry finish. Several years of ageing in oak vat and careful blending complete the fresh fruit flavours with an elegant, complex nuttiness.
6. Which individual has been your greatest mentor and how have they inspired you?
That would have to first be my husband Antonio, who has consistently inspired me to be better, to learn, to overcome challenges, and to reach for the extraordinary.
Then a few of the people that I respect most in the world, three Professors from UC Davis who were also on my thesis committee: Hildegarde Heymann, Ann Noble and Roger Boulton.
7. What is the greatest challenge facing the Douro wine trade today?
The greatest challenge is to shift from commodity wines in volume to iconic wines. Douro has to adapt to the dynamic nature of the wine sector, mainly due to:
- the globalization of the wine market
- the stronger competition
- a tougher economic situation
- the growth and diversification of wines offered
- the rise of new wine consumer demographics
- the consumption decrease in “Old World” countries
- and the “New World” emerging market of both producers and consumers, contribute to make product improvement a key point for ongoing competitive advantage. Suddenly, it is not important just to understand ‘why’ people purchase but it is crucial to know, ‘who’ is purchasing, ‘what’ they are purchasing and during ‘which’ occasions.
For the Douro to map their wines in the wine-world “radar”, new questions are arising that marketing alone cannot answer. Why did the consumers choose wine A over B? Which attributes were they looking for in the wine? What is driving the consumer’s preferences? Who decides that one wine is worth less and another one is priceless?
8. Can you share one new project or improvement that your company is involved with?
That must be The Yeatman. The first luxury wine hotel in Portugal, recently also a member of the Relais & Chateaux. With only one year has already been awarded with a Michelin Star and the best collection of Portuguese wines.
9. What can the industry do to improve the promotion and education of Port and Douro wine and grow market share in the ever evolving beverage marketplace?
Out shopping or in a restaurant, when exposed to a myriad of wines and information, the consumer faces overwhelming pressure to make the “right” decision. Any cue, extrinsic or intrinsic, leading to “quality perception”, might constitute the decision-making variable of interest. Wine is a global business, with different markets, appellations, brands, varietals and styles. In this context, it seems crucial to me to assure not only a consistent quality of our wines, but to provide a knowledgeable and excellent wine service to match a new generation of skilled Chefs, and deliver the best of Portugal’s local action to global consumers.
10. What non-wine activities do you enjoy?
Travelling, photography, music, sailing, running and snowboarding.
Beatriz Machado – on youtube …
The FTLOP series, Port Personalities, In Focus, alternates with A Question for the Port Trade every other month. In Focus concentrates on bridging the gap, introducing readers to people who are not usually in the media’s spotlight, with some license to occasionally “interview” someone that is. In Focus brings you candid comments, personal perspectives, and a better understanding of the people inside the trade. From sales and marketing professionals, to master blenders, winemakers and vineyard managers, to distributors and importers, owners and managing directors; In Focus will introduce you to Port personalities who work at small family-owned operations to the largest wine companies in Portugal. We hope you’ll benefit from meeting the people on these pages!