Photos of Portugal

Anything to do with Port.
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djewesbury
Graham’s 1970
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Re: Photos of Portugal

Post by djewesbury » 22:09 Fri 11 Jul 2014

The Story of Monday - the 23rd of June

Certain details may be recorded in the wrong order. Phil will refresh my memory, his mind will no doubt be clearer than mine.

We arose and breakfasted and ventured out into the Porto morning, more splendid even than the brightly bejewelled Porto evening. Wandering along the byways, we nodded our heads to various landmarks: I believe we walked past the Sé and down one of the steep sets of steps to the the historic riverfront. Taking a jaunt across the magnificent Dom Luis bridge, we arrived at the Cálem lodge, which I had never visited and which Phil, a Cálemisto, was especially keen to see.

What a disappointment. One of the main stories of this trip was the stark difference between the experiences offered to visitors in the various lodges, a theme to which I'll return; Cálem left us in the charge of a callow, uninterested youth with a facility with English and an ability to stick to a script. We were told that Port is a fortified wine made etc etc etc. We were shown some schist. We were walked around the usual toneis and balseiros and pipas. Then the guide pressed a button and the very basic AV display almost failed to work. Questions were batted off with a very slightly more polite (but no less dismissive) English version of 'não sei' (and nor was she particularly interested in finding out).

From here we decided that we needed to set a slightly higher bar. According to my memory of events, we then went to the Quevedo lodge, one street away from the main drag, where we enjoyed a much more pleasurable line-up, including Oscar's delicious 2005 VP and a full range of the tawnies with designation of age. We took care to feed ourselves here as well, after all, Port tastes better on a full stomach. Full marks to Oscar for bothering at all with a lodge in Gaia when he has no stocks stored here, and moreover for being so comprehensive about it - every Quevedo port is available by the glass here, making this one of the bars with the largest selection of by-the-glass Ports available in the whole of Porto (especially since the peremptory closure of the Solar do Vinho do Porto by the municipality a while ago).

We wandered out into the daylight and took a hike around the steep, sun-drowned streets of Gaia, following a sign for the Croft lodge which soon led us past odd scraps of wasteland, unfinished motorway stanchions and the high walls of historic lodge buildings (but not Croft), climbing higher until we eventually found ourselves strolling into the Yeatman for a little nosey around. Having spent one night here last year, I can recommend it most highly for the amazing, indulgent guest experience; but don't come here to drink Port. I think the last time I was here we asked what VPs were available by the glass and were told that a mid-80s Ramos Pinto was available at €30 a glass. It was a reasonably similar story this time.

We descended into the Rua do Choupelo and passed the Taylor lodge, and the Barão de Fladgate restaurant where we were to dine that night. Around another corner, what should we find but - the Croft lodge! Feeling well thirsty (as they say in Gaia) after our mile hike in the blazing sun, we decided to see if we could get a glass of something better than standard issue (and please, no pink port) and introduced ourselves.

"Port is a fortified wine.."
"Yes, we know, in fact we're quite fond of Croft 70."
"Ah. Hello gentlemen, yes, it is a very fine wine. We still have some bottles of it on sale in fact."
"Can we drink some?"
"Er, ahh, no, but would you like to come on our tour, it's extremely interesting?"

Then we found out that the bottle of Croft 91 that we had hoped to order with our dinner at the BdF was not available; so, being around the corner, we asked through the medium of telephonic communication whether we'd be allowed to bring a bottle of Croft 70 (since we were standing next to some that were for sale).

No. This would not be possible. Wines from outside cannot be brought into the restaurant. That is, wines from a property owned by TFP cannot be bought to accompany a dinner at a property owned by TFP. We shrugged and pressed on.

More soon!
Daniel J.
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djewesbury
Graham’s 1970
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Joined: 20:01 Mon 31 Dec 2012
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Re: Photos of Portugal

Post by djewesbury » 18:45 Mon 14 Jul 2014

Apologies for the delay resuming the tale of our sojourn in Porto. Details had to be verified and menial tasks had to be completed.

After our disappointing communication from the Barão, we made our tour of the Croft lodge. All very nice, a good looking lodge, though no cellar tour (the bottles are probably not kept here) and a very poor selection available to taste afterwards, which we foreswore.

From here we made our way to the Graham's lodge, where Ray had arranged a tour for us. The only other time I went around the Graham's lodge, we were lucky enough to be joined by Dominic Symington, who filled in a number of interesting details about his memories of the lodge over the years. This was my first visit to the lodge itself since the refurbishment (though I'd eaten in Vinum twice). We waited to see if Ray would join us but he decided that given the heat and the steep climb, discretion would be the better part of valour. We made ourselves known at the reception and were told that we were expected: a VIP tour, nothing to be paid for, would we mind waiting a few moments until our guide was ready (Phil will remember his name).

We busied ourselves with the new 'museum' at the entrance, which included a family tree of the Symingtons and details of their relationship with the Graham and Warre houses over the years; some fascinating old labels and lodge books; and miscellaneous photographs. The tour itself was enjoyable, and informative, taking in the casks used for the 1952 Single Harvest Tawny, as well as the brethren of the cask that became Ne Oublie. Graham's tour also includes their wonderful library stock of bottles, going back many decades and including some Malvedos vintages that we weren't sure were declared. No other lodge showed us their bottles.

But the highlight of the visit was to come. In the wonderful Vintage Room, a softly-lit, book-and-big-bottle-lined tasting room, we were given a thoroughly excellent line-up of vintages and tawnies to enjoy. From the Oenomatic, the following vintages miraculously came forth: Graham 1983, Warre Quinta da Cavadinha 1998 (aka Gatwick AirPort), Warre 2000, Graham 2000, Quinta do Vesuvio 2006 and Graham 2011; and lightly chilled, glasses of Graham's 20 Year Old, 30 Year Old and 40 Year Old Tawnies, and the 1982, 1969 and 1952 Single Harvest Tawnies (links to TNs to added when time permits). We were, all things considered, quite pleased, and spent an excellent hour and a bit savouring these delights and asking whether we might help ourselves to another tiny splash of the 52. (The memorable answer was 'yes'.)

From here we had to find our way back out into the cruel heat of the mean streets of Gaia, and thence to the Barão de Fladgate for dinner … Would we make it? Would we eat the sardines and see the fireworks? Would we bang people with squeaky hammers and walk on the oddly non-stationary bridge?

Tune in and find out soon!
Daniel J.
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