This is the grand finale. I have now visited every single Port Lodge and producer who is based in Vila Nova de Gaia. It took me years to accomplish this feat and I feel a sense of satisfaction in this small accomplishment. On Sunday, we spent the entire afternoon into evening, visiting with Carlos Flores and Alvaro van Zeller at JH Andresen.
It was great to meet with these gentlemen who warmly welcomed us to their historic offices and facility which is not open to the public. It is so unassuming and well hidden that I never knew it existed and I have been to Vila Nova de Gaia more times than I can count.
Their company was founded in 1845 and is little known in the USA, maybe a bit moreso on the East coast, but most of guests had never tried a single Port from JH Andresen and expectations were seemingly rather low. Any preconceptions they came in with, were blown out of the water by the time they departed, many hours later.
After a very thorough and educational tour we were brought into a fantastic barrel storage facility in which our tasting had been arranged. It was quite a site and the lineup was ambitious to say the least. JH Andresen is best known for their Colheita and Tawny Ports, not their vintage Ports, yet we started with the a 2005 LBV and also tried their 2007 and 2008 Vintage selections and a 1997 added to provide some perspective. Our group quickly changed their mind and knowing that this was just the opening salvo, they were now thrilled with what they had just experienced.
The best was yet to come. We tasted our way through several aged Tawny Ports and by the time we had the 40 year old, our guests were clamoring to learn where they could buy Andresen in Canada, Norway and the USA. It was fun to watch their discoveries. I met Carlos Flores and experienced Andresen Ports in Seattle at an IVP tasting back in 2001, when I first met my good friend and biz partner, Mario Ferreira. I was impressed with Andresen from the very first time I tried their Ports and have never forgot the 1985 VP which I really was in lust with at the time.
We began a serious Colheita tasting and our guests were excited by the extraordinary quality, even of the youngest member of the lineup, the 1997 which started us on the path back through history. The 1970 was one of the group favorites, the 1937 won friends and influenced people ... especially since one member of our group was born that year. We had several others to enjoy and the oldest Port we had the opportunity to try, was the very rare and extraordinary 1910 which was bottled two days earlier, specifically for our group's arrival. It was an amazing experience and none of us in attendance will ever forget these absolutely mind blowing Ports.
This was the "official" first visit of our tour and after most guests had visited Port lodges in Gaia for a day or two on their own, they had a much clearer picture of what they had in store for the upcoming week on the FTLOP Port Harvest Tour. The stark difference was most definitely apparent.
Thanks to both Carlos and Alvaro for their generosity with their time and with their Ports!