Listed below are the winning selections of our FIRST ANNUAL FOR THE LOVE OF PORT AWARDS from 2010, in an assortment of “Best of” Port related categories. Congratulations to all winners!
Quinta do Noval Black Reserve Ruby Port – The second of two bottles and it only made it until the night after it was opened, shared with friends visiting from Vancouver (escaping the Winter Olympic madness). I am equally impressed as I was with the first bottle, as this shows lots of vigor initially although it was more focused the next evening. Its appearance was a dark inky crimson color. Fragrant lavender and violet with ripe boysenberry aromas provide an intense whiff, with a drop of spirit the first night which was gone by the next. Dangerously delicious and full-bodied, this is a rich and primary, ripe fruited Port that is easy to sip for hours. The sweet raspberry, fig and spicy elements come together nicely and the flavors meld well in this balanced Black beauty. This could easily be consumed over a week's time left standing on a shelf and possibly two weeks if kept in the refrigerator. The aftertaste of the Noval Black is possibly its greatest asset and is not only sumptuous, but it lingers right up until the next sip -- even minutes later. A solid new entry and top rung Ruby Reserve Port, priced to sell ... and it will. 91 Points
LATE BOTTLED VINTAGE PORT: 2005 QUINTA DO PORTAL
2005 Quinta do Portal Late Bottled Vintage Port – (Unfiltered; bottled 2009) Exhibits an evocative bouquet accented by violets, spice, mocha, Sultana and fragrant black cherry fruit. Crude oil richness, (yet not jammy) the captivating concentration of fruit is impressive for LBV. The Portal is so massive at this stage that it’s almost intimidating, yet elegant to the core due to the round, polished tannins and crisp acidity. It shows both power and class with an everlasting finish; the stuff dreams are made of. Possibly the finest young LBV I’ve ever opened. Make sure to decant it for at least four to six hours, or cellar for another two years when this may be even more ready for prime time. It will drink better by the 2nd or 3rd day after it has been opened, if not the second week thereafter. You can stick a case in the cellar for a good decade or two, as it’s a mind-blowing infant of an LBV, with excellent LT potential. This is the highest rating I’ve ever given an LBV. 94+ points
TAWNY PORT: QUINTA DA ROMANEIRA 10 YEAR OLD TAWNY
Quinta da Romaneira 10 Year Old Tawny Port – The sheer balance of this Port was remarkable and although I tasted it at the Quinta, that time, it was just a glass pour. Enjoying the bottle now over the course of five days, I had the chance to really evaluate its delivery. Simply put, it has raised the bar by which I have measured all 10 year old Tawnies up until now. More in the nutty realm than citrus in its profile, both aromatically and on the palate, this is one fine Tawny. Rich and ponderous, it continued to improve over several days, not just gaining weight but becoming even more complex in its stratified mid-palate. The dry style with delectable hazelnuts, toffee and acid-rich focus, continued to dazzle. This is the clear winner in a category that rarely has an offering that captivates my palate like this Romaneira did and it could have fooled me into believing it was a 20 year old Tawny had I not known better. 94 Points
COLHEITA PORT: 1967 DALVA “RUI PAULA” COLHEITA
1967 Dalva “Rui Paula” Colheita Port – 2009 bottling. Having had this on a handful of occasions over the past seven months, from a variety of bottles, I truly think this is the best Dalva Colheita I’ve had besides the 1952. This particular bottle delivered more layers than I could have hoped for, yet it was finished off by friends in Michigan who found lots to love. The nose presented great focus and offered a broad range of aromatics: espresso, nutty walnut, orange essence and an herbal streak which accentuated the whole profile. Due to the Madeira-like razor sharp acidity and great depth of flavors, the blend, (created by chef/owner Rui Paula of the Douro’s famed DOC restaurant and Porto’s DOP) provided an intensity level that is rare, and a pleasure when found. A rich and long finish rounded out by edgy acidity and the torrefacted aftertaste was smooth and succulent. I’ll have to look back at my notes, but I think this is possibly the highest I’ve scored this Port. 95 points
VINTAGE PORT: 2007 SANDEMAN VINTAGE PORT
Parameters for best of VINTAGE PORT: Overall quality, ease of availability and affordability in the US marketplace.
2007 Sandeman Vintage Port – From my first sip to the last (a few days later) this was absolutely wonderful juice. A 2nd bottle was evaluated for 4 days (blind of course) and provided consistent notes. Aromas of fresh plums, tar, pine resin, herbs and brambly blackberry. Packed, pure, powerful, ripe plum and blackberry fruit are smooth and sumptuous, a really sexy Port not only densely concentrated but with remarkable balance throughout and already showing lots of complexity. The tannins are massive, drying yet non-astringent and the acidity is spot on. The length of the finish had me talking to myself and shaking my head in disbelief (and I had no idea which this was). Sandeman’s VP is one of the three greatest surprises of the 2007 crop, and immediately won a spot in my Top 10 standouts of the entire vintage. At the conclusion of one of my days of tasting, David Guimaraens stopped by as we were on our way to having dinner and I said, “You really have to try this one and tell me what you think.” After sipping, spitting and some contemplation he nodded his head in approval and mentioned in his understated manner, “That is very good.” Try a bottle whilst young or bury it in the cellar for at least 20 years or through mid-century. Portmaker Luis Sottomayor deserves major kudos for this outstanding achievement, producing the finest Sandeman Vintage Port since 1963! 96 points
HOSPITALITY & TOURISM: QUINTA DO CRASTO
It is one thing to produce some of Northern Portugal’s greatest table wines and a lineup of fine Ports, but Quinta do Crasto also provides a welcoming experience for visitors to its vineyards and winery. Visits to the property often include those special touches, such as taking guests into the vineyards to explain how the old vine rootstocks survive during the harsh summers and winters. Visitors might also learn about the grafting of new vines and the role of cover crops planted between the rows of vines, which help with erosion, pest control and water run-off, as well as providing nutrients back into the soil to nourish the vines.
Throughout the property, visitors get a real sense of the history of Port production in this region, and the Roquette family makes a point of highlighting their connection to that history by pointing out one of the original "Pombol" markers on their property which was placed as part of the demarcation of the Douro Region boundaries beginning in 1756. One particular appointment even included a tour of the produce garden on the property, and a taste of the peppers and heirloom tomatoes grown there.
Quinta do Crasto is prominently situated high over the Douro River, providing visitors with amazing panoramic views of the surrounding vineyards. The edge of their "infinity" pool appears to simply drop into the depth of the Douro Valley below, and provides a wonderful place to cool off during the warmer months. After a swim, their veranda is a welcoming place to enjoy a long dinner, taste some of the wide range of Quinta do Crasto’s wines, and perhaps enjoy a fine cigar as you soak in the ambience of the whole region with a glass of Port in hand.
If the property hasn't already made visitors fall in love with Quinta do Crasto, the attention the Roquette family pays to their wines should. Guests might be offered barrel samples of their latest LBV or vintage of Port, along with some insight from the winemakers on the aging curve of their Port and Douro wines. You might also get an in-depth explanation of the use of traditional stone lagares where grapes are foot-trodden nightly during the harvest time, and newer robotic equipment and methods employed to craft their wines.
Quinta do Crasto combines warm hospitality, a visually alluring property, an extensive range of table wines and Ports, and a focus on educating visitors about their history and wine-making passion. The Roquette family’s consistency in delivering extraordinary experiences for visitors has earned Quinto do Crasto … FOR THE LOVE OF PORT – 2010 AWARD FOR HOSPITALITY & TOURISM.
INNOVATIVE MARKETING: PORTO QUEVEDO
Who says a small Port company can’t compete with the marketing efforts of the big boys?
- Oscar Quevedo was the first in the Port trade to embrace social media utilizing a progressive Blog to reach out to Porto Quevedo’s clientele and consumers interested in learning more about the company.
- In 2010 Porto Quevedo successfully imported their Port and Douro wine products into the challenging US marketplace; a brave move for a small producer that was virtually unknown in America, save for a few dozen fanatic Port enthusiasts. In our estimation, like the eponymous pair of lions guarding NYC’s most famous library, this accomplishment is solely due to the patience and fortitude of Oscar Quevedo.
- Quevedo was also the first in the Port trade, and actually, in all of Portugal, (and one of the original wine companies in the world!) to adopt the technology using the QR Code on their wine labels. QR Code is a matrix code that compresses thousands of characters and can be read using the camera of a smart phone. Scanning the QR Code on the back labels of Quevedo Port or Douro wine, the cell phone will get a web link where product information and customer reviews about the wine will appear.
Congratulations to the Quevedo’s on their innovative marketing achievements in 2010!
CAREER ACHIEVEMENT AWARD: BRUCE GUIMARAENS
Bruce Duncan Guimaraens (1935-2002) the great-great grandson of Fonseca’s founder (Manuel Pedro Guimaraens) took over the family’s Port making duties with the classic 1960 vintage, a dozen years after the family’s business merged with Taylor’s. Bruce had actually joined the company in 1956 at the tender age of 21 years old, directly after a stint as a commissioned lieutenant in the Royal Berkshire Regiment.
Whilst best known for his legendary Port making prowess, he was an exceptional viticulturist. Bruce was also directly involved in the acquisition of Fonseca’s three main quinta properties (Panascal, Cruzeiro and Santo Antonio) and managed Taylor and Fonseca’s vast vineyard lands for many years.
Bruce’s impressive achievements remain today, in the spectrum of superlative Vintage Ports he vinified for Fonseca, notably the amazing string of excellence with the likes of: 1963, 1966, 1970, 1977, 1985 and 1992; not to mention several brilliant Single Quinta Vintage Port bottlings. He was personally quite fond of the Fonseca 1963 and 1966 and always referred to the 1985 as “a truly extraordinary Vintage.”
Bruce had a profound influence on my understanding of Port and was very generous with his time and information shared during visits to Seattle and Vancouver in the latter half of the 1990s and dawning of the 21st century. The image of Bruce, exuding warmth, his hearty laughter and effortlessness as raconteur of charming stories describing his early days in the Port trade and love for the Duriense people, while sipping a post prandial Port with cigar in hand … remains indelibly etched in my memory.
Beyond exceptional Port making, Bruce’s greatest legacy remains the tutelage of his son David Bruce Fonseca Guimaraens, the 6th generation of Guimaraens involved in the family’s business. Bruce passed on the Port making reigns and David received worldwide acclaim with his very first release, the sensational 1994 Fonseca and Taylor Vintage Ports. In turn, I am sure David will someday pass the torch on to his own son.
In recognition of Bruce Guimaraens’ countless contributions during a brilliant career spanning more than three decades, FOR THE LOVE OF PORT presents its very first Career Achievement Award posthumously to Bruce Guimaraens.