There was a porto & douro tasting event organised earlier in may by the wine institute of douro and porto. I took notes and meant to share them but I got distracted. Better late than never I guess!
The event was free and was scheduled from 3pm to 8pm. They emailed us to offer a free “masterclass” (there was one at 11am and 5pm I believe) that we had to subscribe to. Decided to go for the masterclass at 5pm.
I must first admit that I wasn’t a big fan of porto going in. I love dessert wines but I tend to favour white dessert wines (sauternes, tokaj, trockenbeerenauslese, icewines, ice ciders, ect…) to red dessert wines (I had tried a few Banyuls and portos to no avail). However, sometimes, not being a fan means you just haven’t tasted the right thing for you yet so I went with an open mind.
We decided to finish work early and go with friends at 3pm. We arrived to a masterclass already in session. Some people were missing I guess because they let us right in. There were approximately 20 people around a table with a wine critic from portugal letting us try 6 wines that he chose. We had just a few minutes to taste the wines and two glasses so we had to do things quick. I wish we had time to taste a bit more thoughtfully and discuss our findings but was free so I won’t complain much
Veira de la souza, white port: Very large wine but a bit short, abricot, lots of sugar… loved it (white ports is in my range)
Otima, 10 years, Tawny: caramel, berries, lots of fruits, lots of layers. Pretty good.
Taylor Fladgate 20 years, Tawny: Less intense and less large than the otima, less lively, almonds, torrified sugar. Prefered the Otima.
Ramos Pinto 30 years, Tawny: WOW! Absolutely faboulous. Tons of layers, very very long, small acidity that counters the sugar. The tail is just incredibly long… torrified sugar becomes honey, maple, toffee, barley sugar… one after the other… bang bang bang bang… just echoes upon echoes of variants of sweetness. Great great mouthfeel. My favorite of the tawny porto I tasted that day.
Six Grapes Graham, Ruby: Strawberry, pretty short, not very long… meh
LBV Taylor 2011, Ruby: A bit of tannin, larger and longer than the Graham. Ok.
I realised that my dislike for tawny porto was caused by the english style (Graham, Taylor Fladgate, Warres ect) and that I never tried the portugal tawnies which tended to have a lot less honey on the taste because they were balanced by a small layer of acidity. The Ramos Pinto was my absolute favorite tawny and I will not hesitate to buy it again. Hell, I’m currently planning to buy a bottle with friends to let them taste it. Liked the white ports (of course I would!) and enjoyed the rubys but none transported me.
At 4 I went at the main degustation hall. My friend wanted to inquire about bottles he could buy and keep in his cellar and I was just looking to taste more wine. I didn’t take any notes but I remember there were not a lot of douro reds that piqued my interest. Not in my palate I guess. I liked the white douros very much though and I’ll keep them in mind in the future. I’ll have to be careful however because I bought a white portugal wine that wasn’t from douro and it wasn’t in my palate at all. (it was that bottle: http://www.saq.com/page/fr/saqcom/vin-blanc/quintas-das-amoras-reserve-2014/11572805?selectedIndex=16&searchContextId=-100225131623294 )
At 5 we had our other masterclass so we went back to taste 6 more wines!
Quinta de Crasto, douro wine: Fruits (strawberry), not very long, not very large, nice, not very complex.
Graham 20, Tawny: Toffee, small alcohol sensation, more shallow than the RP 30 years, long enough, sugar, thick, honey. Not my style.
Taylor Fladgate 20, Tawny: Fruitier than the graham, almonds, figs. Not my style either.
Ramos Pinto 20 ans, Tawny: A great balance between sugar and acid. Not as complex as the 30 years but still very very good! God I love Ramos Pinto!
Smith Woodhouse LBV 2002, Ruby: A kick of strawberries in the middle, lots of fruits, very fresh, vibrant, wow! My favorite of this lot!
Overall the second tasting confirmed my initial impressions: I’m still not a fan of british tawnies and I really really enjoy Ramos Pinto. I was really surprised by the Smith Woodhouse ruby. I wasn’t that impressed by the previous rubies but this one left a great impression! I bought it for a family birthday and it was appreciated!
The rest of the day was still a bit of a wash for me and my friend. People from the office left work after 5 and the merchant hall became more of a frat party than a wine tasting event. Dudes and dudettes tried to get as much free porto as possible and the merchant were mobbed by girls in their 20’s in small dresses trying to get free booze from the stalls so it was impossible to taste and discuss things properly. Anyways, we already saw what we wanted from 4 to 5 so we left early. Apparently they were announcing 90 minutes of waiting at one time
My favorite moments were the “master sessions”, of course. I really enjoyed sitting in a relatively calm atmosphere, tasting things properly and taking notes. It was pretty effective since it adjusted my views on portos and douro wines! I already bought the smith woodhouse, I’m planning to buy a bottle of ramos pinto 30 years with friends and I put white douro and white porto on my shortlist.