Tuesday morning I made my first visit to the Graham Lodge since the refurbishment three (or was it four?) years ago. I booked in advance, as required, and took the chance to look round the museum at the entrance to the tour. I was taken round by Svetlana, who coped admirably with a group that comprised of novices to port as well as with me (and DRT and JDAW). The funniest moment was when she stood by the 1882 barrels looking at the three of us and said a bit smugly "This is one wine you won't have tasted!". We corrected her gently. The tour was great, Svetlana was knowledgeable and was happy to chat about port, the region and Symington Family Estates at length. I did get lost at one point when I became distracted by taking pictures of Graham's bottles from 1870, 1873, 1875, 1876, 1884, 1887, 1890, 1896, 1897, 1899, 1900, 1901, 1902, 1903, 1904, 1906, 1908, 1909, 1912, 1917, 1920, 1922, 1924, 1926, 1927 and 1935.
We followed the tour with a tasting in the Private Vintage Room. I chose the premium vintage port tasting which meant the tour and tasting was €40. The wines poured for the tasting were Graham 2003
. While sitting in the Private Vintage Room we noticed a sign saying that the Vintage Port of the Day was only €10 per glass so, naturally, we asked what the vintage port of the day was. "We have three," came the reply, "Warre 1980
, Dow 1985
and Vesuvio 1995
." We each had a glass of each. The pours were around 60-70ml, so quite generous.
At 13.30 we went through to Vinum for lunch and had a splendid meal. We had the Suckling Pig from the main course menu as a starter, followed by a 1.2kg Vaca Velha sirloin steak. This was washed down with bottles of Graham 40YO Tawny
, Martinez 1970
, Malvedos 2004
and a half bottle of Malvedos 2005
. We left around 17.30 as it became obvious we were in the way of the staff preparing for the evening dinner.
I thoroughly recommend a visit to both the Lodge and lunch at Vinum if you have not done either.
Top Ports in 2019: Niepoort VV (1960s bottling) and Quinta do Noval Nacional 2017
Top Ports in 2020 (so far): Croft 1945 and Niepoort VV (1960s bottling)