There are several newsworthy topics this month that will be reported below which are FTLOP specific, but also some that are directly within the sphere of the Port trade. I hope you will find this useful and important.
FTLOP Website Presence
In celebration of the 2nd Anniversary of the For The Love Of Port website and Forum, July 30th 2007, there will be a contest announced with a phenomenal Grand Prize that any Port lover would covet. Keep your eyes peeled on the Port Forum for more details. Timing will be important as will previous participation on the Forum. Only active Forum members as of July 29th may enter the contest. Further rules will be posted in the Port Forum. We have passed the 20,000 post milestone on the Forum and I would like to thank everybody for their efforts in making this happen. If you have still not visited the Forum, or are just lurking in the shadows, come on and join us for some fun. The discussions are livelier than ever and there has been a significant increase in our daily volume and it is very noticeable in most Forum areas.
At the end of our first year and a half there were well under 500 members on the Forum. We have now exceeded 430 new members in just a half a year, with over 900 members overall. We remain the leading PORT, Madeira and Douro wine web presence (for no-nonsense content and activity) in the world. Thanks to all who continue to visit and make this the most enjoyable place to discuss Port, as well as Madeira and wines of the Douro Valley.
Activity in Oporto, Vila Nova de Gaia and the Douro
I heard from Pedro Mansihla Branco, the proprietor of Portal and he informed me that they have been remodeling the entire winery. I requested a written copy so that we could include it in FTLOP and here is the latest news:
2007 will be the first year when we’ll be able to take advantage of the new philosophy implemented with the changes we performed in the winery. What is this philosophy?
It’s simply the same we used in the AURU project that we started in the vintages of 1999/2000. The first year that came out was the 2001 Quinta do Portal AURU that was awarded the Portuguese Trophy (Best Portuguese Wine) and the James Rogers Trophy (Best Red wine of the World in its first year of production) at the 2004 Wine Challenge. The second release – 2003 Quinta do Portal AURU – has just been awarded the Great Gold Medal at Concours Mondial de Bruxelles 2007.
In terms of work this philosophy translates simply in respecting the grapes. The concept of respecting the grapes is, in a first stage, defined in the vineyards (cultural practices and yield control). Then when we have the healthy and intact grapes in the winery, we forward them to the fermentation vats or stainless steel “lagares” without pumping them. We can work them in order to extract everything we want, and in the end get the wines to the barrels again without the use of any pumping.
The New Cellars
Right now we have in course the construction of the new cellars designed by Alvaro Siza Vieira (world famous architect who also designed the IVDP Port glass). This will have one underground warehouse for the Douro wines and one ground level for ageing the Ports. It will also include a new visitors centre with wine shop, tasting room, auditorium for 74 people and exterior garden on the roof. The outside walls will be covered with schist and cork. We look forward to your next visit later this year to show you our progress!
In an exchange of emails with the owner of Andresen discussing their 2005 VP, I learned that they have very recently launched the first 10 year old White Port ever made. It is in fact the first Port for an entirely new category of Port wine, the first in a couple decades, if I am not mistaken. I will have to check on the new regulations from the IVDP to find out more information on the “Aged White” category.
So far, it is much more successful than anybody at Andresen could have expected. Additionally, Andresen’s new packaging was recently awarded a Gold medal at the International Wine and Spirits Design Awards.
While visiting Dirk Niepoort in the Douro at his remarkable Quinta de Nápoles in mid-May, it was exciting to see the progress that has been made there. It was my first visit to Nápoles and Dirk’s enthusiasm was a joy to see. He has designed his own mega-plex which will be the envy of the entire Douro. Beyond the incredible scale and cost of this project, the innovations and energy efficiencies that Dirk came up with are truly ahead of their time (more so for the Douro). The storage areas for Douro wines is quite a commitment to space and the requisite cooling of wine cases in the Douro. Full details will be explored in my upcoming report of the 2007 Fortification Tour.
IVDP: Port & Douro Wine Institute provides statistics of the Port trade for 2007 to date
I find the statistical analysis by the IVDP one of the most informative guides as to what is going on in terms of case sales by country and in total with an increase of 3.1% year to date over the same period in 2006. IF you would like to have a look for yourself, please feel free to explore the IVDP website, particularly under menu item Informação / Estatística. In the English language version of the site there are always downloads of statistical analysis of sales volume by value, by volume and by price. The Portuguese language version under Estatística Geral offers even more information about Douro viticulture, grape production, and more.