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!
9 thoughts on “Postcard from Porto (Legends Edition)”
Hey young Dude, your post made me recall my days as a boatman on the Douro! Ah, the swish of the oars…but anyway, just because some stuffy MW opines doesn't mean diddly. Your oh-pin-yun is just as valid and maybe even more so, since you don't feel you have to live up to some fancy pants letters affixed to your last name!
Steve – I can picture you navigating the rapids, pipes or precious Porto cargo in tow!
Thanks for the thoughts – It is during tastings like those that I wonder if the ratings and confirmation bias have too much sway ("but… aren't I **supposed** to prefer this one?")…
I've tasted young ports since the mid-90's and can't actually recall any moments I haven't had the Noval as a favorite. In my world it rocks! So, stick with your first impression. At least it is yours which, in the end, is what matters. Right?
Thanks, Niklas! For sure I know which one I'd want to have at the end of my meal :).
Sorry Dude. You are my friend, and I care about you and your family. But on this subject, I'd defer to the MW's.
Of course, on the matter of subjective TASTE, how could you be wrong? It is your opinion, and the port you liked best is the port you liked best. But you aren't a professional wine taster, and I dare say, you weren't invited to Portugal for your wine tasting acumen; you were invited because you are a wine friendly computer dork. And that's cool, and they need your blog-centric opinion on things, but the *world* doesn't (and shouldn't)give two bits about what Port you like best. You aren't in the same league, nay, universe as Jancis and Mary in that regard. Your profession is the IT world, not the wine business (yet). You don't taste a fraction of the wine that wine professionals do, even though you feel inundated with samples. Lots of people cleary respect your role in this bullshit business, and I'm one of them. But keep it real , my man.
Whitey – all of what you write is very true (though I stack my palate up against the majority of folks, I certainly can concede to the likes of Mary & Jancis – both of whom are lovely, lovely people as well as being wine rock stars!).
I appreciate your (continued) support! Cheers!
Hey all – more coming on the Porto trip in the next few weeks. I will start with some short Going Pro vid stuff on Wed. next week. Cheers!
I am looking forward to you take on the conference, and more importantly, the table wines of Portugal.
Thanks, Chris – the Ports have by-and-large been very good to stunning, the reds are mostly decent with some standouts (and what seems to be a near-obsession with volatile acidity :) and the whites have been GREAT. more to come in the next couple of weeks!
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