Greetings from Porto, where I’m a guest of the Wines of Portugal international Conference 2010 speaking later today on the topic of the importance of the Internet in the promotion and future of Portuguese wines.
I’m quite happy to be here, and staying at what must be on the world’s most gorgeous hotels (The Yeatman – see inset slightly-blurry-low-light-morning-panoramic pics of the view from my room’s balcony) – which I’ll argue was at least somewhat deserved after the 24+ hour travel day I experienced to get here, in which a 90-minute-connection in Frankfurt turned into a near seven-hour-endurance-test-layover (apparently Germany – a northerly country that experiences frigid Winters – was unprepared for snow… in December…). But the views (as you can see) are making up for it!
Highlights so far, aside from the mere act of successfully arriving, include meeting Jancis Robinson and watching her tweet during dinner, catching up with old friends, and sampling a bevy of the now-legendary 1994 vintage Ports, three of which were awarded 100-point scores from Wine Spectator (I know… but when a heavy-hitting pub awards heavy-hitting scores, it does merit some attention) – the real focus of the “legends” of this post’s title and one in which I found myself surprisingly in the minority…
The legendary VP lineup included the likes of Floodgate, Taylor’s (the most powerful and youngest-tasting by a far margin), and Quinta do Noval (the most open, herbal, and spicy of the bunch) – the three in the “100 Point Club” – and a host of others (as standout being the opulently rich Graham’s).
Based on my take on the wines vs. those of the rest of our dinner guests, you’d have been forgiven for concluding that I was from another planet entirely. The Taylor made just about everyone else in the room swoon, but I was a bit put off by the overwhelming power of the wine and its (in my view) very dried-fruit profile. Maybe I’m insane, but my guess is that this wine will show better decades from now but I’m not totally convinced it will fully integrate elegantly. I know, I suck.
More my speed was the Noval, which had lush, ripe-but-not-dried fruit (blueberry and blackberry especially), notes of herbs, and was throwing out every spice from the kitchen rack like there was no tomorrow.
I’m of course talking about shades of difference between wines that I’d all have rated either “A” or “A+” so the differences, for what their worth in terms of having a near-orgasmic Port experience, are slim in the wider context.
Isn’t the difference in my reaction (in a relatively small group, which included some big-time palates such as MW’s Jancis, Mary Ewing-Mulligan and folks whose job is it to award Ports the status of Vintage) is an interesting comment on the subjective experience of enjoying wine (not to mention the difficulty in ascertaining a Port’s aging potential and scoring/rating it decades before they will mature)? Or is it just an indication of an “immature” or under-developed palate (my own)?
I sure found it a fascinating start to my time in Porto.
Off to prep. for my panel discussion… much more to come!