On Tuesday, I met with a local Port importer who handles both Kopke and Rocha Ports for the USA and table wines from Portugal and Italy too. He was the other American inducted into the IVDP Confraria (a total coincidence that we were both from Seattle) back in 2003.
Some of you who attended my Colheita tasting got to meet Todd Cromwell, who is a great guy and does a bang up job keeping this tiny city as the 5th largest Port market in the USA. My consumption aside, it is his doing! While we had a nice lunch with seared Ahi atop Caesar salad, a glass of Pinot Gris and a great bowl of Gumbo soup, Todd showed me a wonderful slide show from his recent visit to the Douro. It was great to get such a close up view of Quinta Sao Luiz and Quinta Armozelo.
Our discussion turned to the changing face of Vila Nova de Gaia and how quickly some of the moves are starting to take place. For more information on this topic, I’ll include a link to my op/ed piece on this, to provide those of you who never read the newsletter with my opinion on this loss of traditional Port values, so to speak. Vila Nova de Gaia: Gentrification vs. Tradition
Todd gave me a great heads up. He has tasted quite a few Douro wines from the 2007 vintage. He gave me one very strong recommendation, yet I know this has not been released at this time: 2007 Curva Branco Reserva (a Douro white wine) which he said was the best Douro white he’s ever tasted (mine being the 2005 Niepoort Redoma Reserva, really needing 5 more years of bottle age!). I will be tasting the wine he suggested in two weeks, but it was good to hear what he thought of this wine and the exemplary wines he tasted from 2007. He’s been selling Port for 25+ years in the USA and believes this to be a “hallmark” vintage and for Douro wines as well. Time will tell.
We ended lunch having to make Sophie’s Choice. The restaurant we were at, IRIS GRILL in Issaquah, Washington had a fine Port wine list along with dessert. I believe they had a selection of 8 Ports by the glass. He suggested the two best, both of which I’ve had several times, but neither one in about the past two years. The 1966 Kopke Colheita and the Porto Rocha “Three Centuries” Port, which is a blended Tawny of different aged Colheitas. I chose the 1966 Kopke (reasonably priced for a good pour at $24/glass) and I will feature a tasting note in the appropriate section on the homepage.
This led to a discussion about Colheitas evolving and improving in bottle. Todd mentioned that at the time of last June’s great Colheita tasting he had not made up his mind. Paying more attention to this and especially while in Portugal again, he definitely believes that Colheitas do improve in bottle and that finding a fresh, “born on date” on a Colheita in no way translates into a better product. I am not trying to change the mind of those that believe otherwise, as this is just one man’s opinion.
It was great to see Todd, a venerable Port aficionado and maestro of a Port and wine salesman/distributor/importer. Just visit any wine shop around Seattle and you will see the nearly 75% market share on retail and restaurant shelves he has garnered through his attention to detail, willingness to train retailers about Port and just pure hard work in following up with his promises.