The First Big Fortified Tasting in London

On Monday 19th April, 2010, London saw 35 different producers show over 300 wines between them at the first ever wine fair dedicated to showing fortified wines and only fortified wines. Wines on show included Sherry, Australian fortifieds, Quady’s Starboard from California (a fortified wine made the same way as and from the same grapes as port), Vermouth, Marsala, a number of French fortifieds, Madeira and Port. There was also the delight of fortified Moscatel de Setúbal from Bacalhôa, Carcavelos and Vinho Licoroso Estramadura.

The tasting was held in the splendid surroundings of Glazier’s Hall and included a new concept – The Tasting Salon. In the salon, wines are brought to the tasters allowing a large number of wines to be tasted in a relatively short time. However, while using the Tasting Salon was efficient, it also took away the opportunity to chat to the producers and their UK representatives who were showing the wines.

As might be expected of an article written for the For the Love of Port newsletter, it was the vintage and other Ports that were my main focus of the day. In all, 103 different ports from 20 different shippers were on show and notes of 20 of these are posted at the end of this article. There was a good cross-section of producers and UK agents showing different styles of port wine and the event was also the occasion which saw the relaunch of the old Maynard name that has been revived through a partnership between the Van Zeller family and Tiago Trigo (formerly of the Taylor Fladgate Partnership).

The shippers presenting wines were Quinta Nova de Nossa Senhora de Carmo, Duorum, Fonseca, Quinta de la Rosa, Ramos Pinto, Quinta do Crasto, Wine & Soul (Pintas), Quinta do Passadouro, Rozès, Churchill Graham, Quinta do Noval, Quinta do Romaneira, Barros, Cálem, Quinto do Infantado, Maynard’s, Niepoort, Sandeman, Offley Forrester and Graham.

Madeira was less well represented with 6 shippers showing 56 different wines. The Madeira companies were Blandy’s, Barbeito, Justino’s, Borges, Henriques & Henriques and D’Oliveira.

This event was a great success and much credit must be given to Danny Cameron (of Raymond Reynolds) and Ben Campbell-Johnson (formerly of John E Fells) who pursued the idea and turned the idea into reality. The event was packed and the number of visitors who attended the event exceeded expectations, creating a great chance for producers, UK agents and trade and press to talk to each other in a terrific environment. Hopefully the success of the event will see it become a regular fixture on the wine event calendar.

Selected Tasting Notes

Barros 1997 Developed colour, darker than the 1997 Foz shown alongside. Some orange on the rim. Sweet raspberry and cinnamon on the nose. Soft and sweet in the mouth, a little thin in texture. Dry tannins dominate at the moment in the mid palate but the sweet fruit shows through well. Elegant and sweet. Pleasant aftertaste, if a little light. Needs another 5-10 years to hit its peak. 90/100.

Barros 2000 Light rim, transparent centre. Quite empty on the nose. Sweet into the mouth but with good tannins drying out the secondary palate. Some bitterness in the mid-palate. The aftertaste is of sweet raspberry jam. Not a great vintage port - perhaps disjointed through being closed. 92/100.

Cálem 2007 Snapshot tasting note. Deep red colour, young but with no purple. Vigorous and fresh nose of vibrant fruit. Sweet entry, full of fruit; good levels of acidity and soft tannins. Lots of fruit in the mix, good complexity. Elegance and finesse, not a blockbuster but with lovely balance. Nice drinking in a decade or two. 91/100.

Churchill 1991 Deep red, showing some bricking on the rim. Little on the nose. Dry entry, tannins dominate from the start. Texture is thin, a little watery. Mature fruit flavours come through well in the mid-palate. Gentle aftertaste, not showing much. Drink over the next 10 years. 85/100.

Duorum 2007 Snapshot tasting note. Deep red, dark magenta in tone. Beautiful floral nose, exquisite perfume. Silky texture, full of blueberry but port that comes with brutal tanning. Patience aerating the wine just reveals more tannin! A big, fruity aftertaste with a slight green woody finish. Impressive. 92/100.

Ervamoira 2007 from Ramos Pinto. Snapshot tasting note. Deep red with opaque purple core. Vibrant blackcurrants on the nose, very lively. Soft and satin texture, followed by a huge wave of tannic blackcurrants. Big, dry aftertaste with wonderful levels of fruit and a great length. Very tasty port. 91/100.

Fonseca 1985 Showing a mid-red and mature colour, with a transparent centre. Lovely raisin cookie nose, an attractive mix of sweet dried fruit and vanilla. Sweet and silky on the tongue, with mature tannins that give a firm grip. Lovely ripe and mature fruit, filling the mouth with flavour. Rich aftertaste of good length. While drinking well today, this will be much better in 5-10 years. 91/100.

Fonseca 2007 Snapshot tasting note. Deep red but amazingly almost transparent at the centre. Somewhat closed on the nose; soft and smooth on the tongue. Gently fruity but with peppery tannins everywhere. There is real purity to the fruit and acidity. Big aftertaste, showing a hint of heat, but huge in volume. 93/100.

Foz, Quinta do (Cálem) 1997 Very light colour, pink! Certainly not the colour of a typical 1997. Sweet red licorice on a fragrant nose. Sweet entry, red licorice again with masses of cherry juice and soft milk chocolate tannins. Very forward, mature and very tasty. Gentle and tasty aftertaste. Very advanced and very drinkable. 89/100.

Graham 2007 Snapshot tasting note. Deep red, almost purple with a vibrant blackcurrant nose. Sweet and elegant fruit in the mouth, with tannins that grip the cheeks and teeth. Big palate presence of sweet and concentrated blueberry. Fruit dominated aftertaste, full of raisins and chocolate and with great length. Another Symington winner. 95/100.

Infantado 2004 Solid red centre, transparent on the rim. Hugely herbaceous nose, some blueberry mixed with sage. Sweet entry, showing sweet damsons; very tannic with quite a grip. Nice development. Empty aftertaste other than some cheek tingling sensation, although some flavours do develop on the finish. Adequate drinking. 83/100.

Maynard's 2007 Snapshot tasting note. Deep red, slight purple tinge to the centre. Harsh touch to the nose, with blackcurrant and the herbaceousness that seems typical of the vintage. Soft texture, very tannic and this initially overwhelms the fruit in the wine. Patience allows the sweet blackcurrant to return. Restrained aftertaste, some mild chocolate mixed with sweet fruit. 87/100.

Maynard's 2005 LBV Unfiltered, bottled 2010. Nosing of slightly harsh oranges. Soft and sweet entry; harshly acidic in the mouth but this fades back to reveal fruit and soft tannins; grows nicely on the palate. Leaves a good, fruity aftertaste. Nice example of an unfiltered LBV. 85/100.

Niepoort Pisca 2007 Deep red in colour, no purple but lots of magenta. The nose is closed but does show some lavender and raspberry. Such smooth texture, a delightful presence on the palate. Plentiful fruit, bringing fresh and slightly tart blackberry. The tannins are present but very gentle. The palate presence is good, but not better than good. The aftertaste is limited and soft, leaving a remarkably sweet and sticky finish. A well made port, but not one which holds up well to the leaders of the vintage. 86/100. Tasted 19 April 2010 after approximately 8 hours of decanting. 86/100.

Quinta do Nova de Nossa Senhora de Carmo 2007 Snapshot view. Mid red in colour; harsh and sour raspberry nose. Soft and silky texture, smooth fruit eases over the tongue before structural acidity and gentle tannins show through. Dry aftertaste, dominated by the tannin but with a good finish of cherry stones. Lightweight and in an elegant style. 88/100.

Offley Forrester 2005 LBV Bottled unfiltered in 2009. Deep purple, full of youthful blackcurrants. Soft texture, very smooth; fruity and with assertive acidity. Soft tannins, good development. Lovely fruit-centric aftertaste of very good length. Very impressive, best drunk while youthful. 90/100.

Quinta do Romaneira 2007 Snapshot tasting note. Purple-red in colour. Lavender and blueberries on the nose. Sweet fruity impact. Soft tannins grip well but with finesse while huge levels of fruit build up. Big aftertaste. This wine is showing very well, allowing the sweet fruit to dominate. Probably a 20 year port. 89/100.

Quinta de la Rosa 2000 Evolving red colour, slight orange showing on the rim. There is a harsh note on the nose over pleasant stewed redcurrant. Sweet impact, gentle fruit and soft tannins; a lovely fruit presence and a delightful aftertaste. An elegant style of wine that will reward another 5-10 years but probably not much longer. 85/100.

Terras do GriFo 2006 from Rozes. Located at the extreme eastern edge of the Douro Superior, the port from this Quinta is intended to be consumed young. Very young colour, still showing some purple. Lavender perfume and blueberry on the nose. Big impact, sweet and fruity. Good tannic components, great levels of fruit but modest levels of acidity. Terrific impact on the aftertaste and a good length of flavoursome dry cherries and chocolate. 89/100.

Sandeman Vau 1999 Solid red colour, starting to pale on the rim. Fresh raspberries on the nose. Sweet in the mouth, with plenty of fruit and acidity; tannins are very gentle. A lovely wine, drinking nicely now but unlikely to improve much. 89/100.

The website for the event can be found at www.thebft.co.uk. The 2011 event will be held on Wednesday 6th April.

Article by Alex Bridgeman © January 2011

Roy’s Note: Alex Bridgeman has been serious about Port for many years and has visited Oporto, Gaia and the Douro on numerous occasions. He has a fine palate for Port and many other wines. We are always pleased when Alex offers content to include in the newsletter because his writing style and the quality of the tastings he organizes and attends, is impeccable. Alex’s column this month portrays another extraordinary Port event that was held in London last year.  

 

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