In the Douro (3) Niepoort

Dirk Niepoort needs no introduction. For me, this is the Douro’s most exciting winery (it’s one of the world’s most exciting wineries, for that matter). Dirk says that in 2013 he made some radical changes and ‘pressed a re-set button.’ The wines, already excellent, have taken a step forward with the 2013s. And 2014s from [...]

In the Douro (2) Quinta Vale Dona Maria

Two very interesting visits yesterday: Vale Dona Maria and Niepoort. There’s something nice about unhurried appointments. It takes the pressure off: you don’t need to gather the maximum information in the shortest time, and you can have a good look around. It’s surprising how the conversation turns, and what you learn. So it was nice [...]

In the Douro, 1 - Quinta do Vale Meão

I’m in the Douro. As is common on the road, time for blogging is short, and internet connections are not always guaranteed (although across the world they are so much better than they used to be even five years ago). So, a quick update on day 1. I was at Quinta do Vale Meão, which is [...]

Back to Portugal, off to the Douro again

I’m off to Portugal this evening. Back to the Douro, for some quality time with the Douro Boys.

I remember my first visit to the Douro. It was back in May 2002. I’d been to a wine dinner and met this Portuguese winemaker. A bloke called Dirk Niepoort. I sat next to him, and at the [...]

A mini vertical of Noval Vintage Port

Had a chance to try four vintages of Noval side by side. Sadly, this was tasting not drinking – and usually, tasting notes made in the act of drinking have more value than those made from just tasting – but it was nice to revisit these wines. Some comments. First, the Silval 2005! This is [...]

Taberna do Mercado, Old Spitafields, London

Yesterday’s lunch was at the much talked about Taberna do Mercado, in Old Spitafields Market, a short walk from Liverpool Street Station. This is Nuno Mendes’ relatively new venture, so I was expecting great things. This is not a grand restaurant: the dining room is simple, plain and modern. But the food is extraordinary.

Runner [...]

Some lovely Portuguese whites

Some Portuguese whites, tasted with lunch on the Lisbon coast. All impressive, and not too expensive.

Soalheiro Vinho Verde 2014 Portugal
This is benchmark Alvarinho from one of the top producers in the region. Lively precise pear and grapefruit flavours, showing nice focus with some spiciness. Precise with a lemony finish. 91/100

Redoma Branco 2013 Douro, Portugal
This is [...]

Video: planting an Arinto vineyard in Vinho Verde, Portugal

A brief film showing an Arinto vineyard being planted in Vinho Verde, Portugal. It’s from Casal de Ventozela, which is one of the properties I visited in April when I was looking at the concept of single-variety Vinho Verde. This is old school vineyard planting: effective, but time consuming. You can get laser-guided machines to [...]

Quinta do Noval 2013 Vintage Port

Don’t you just love eccentric declarations? We’re talking Vintage Port here. It used to be so solemn and predictable: three declarations a decade, from the very best years, agreed in a gentlemanly fashion over a long lunch at the Factory House (or, at least, that’s how it seems from the outside). Now Quinta do Noval [...]

Video: Cockburn's Port Bicentenary Tasting

Here’s a film from the recent Cockburn’s Port Bicentenary tasting, held in London. It involved a range of Ports from Cockburn’s glory days to the present day, including a couple of rare pre-phylloxera bottles. The Symingtons purchased Cockburn’s in 2006 and their aim is to restore this Port house – which for a long time [...]