2014 Pre-harvest tasting, Glenn visits 23rd Sept

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PhilW
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2014 Pre-harvest tasting, Glenn visits 23rd Sept

Post by PhilW » 10:04 Wed 24 Sep 2014

At the request of Glenn E., passing through London on the way to Porto, an evening of port tasting with the theme "Variety is the Spice of Life". With TBH closed for refurbishment, this was held at Davy’s at Woolgate Bar and Brasserie where we were looked after very well.

Links: For now just the brief highlights from a classic TPF tasting: The new venue worked well, excellent service as always, the room slightly cramped for 8, steaks good, chips great, did want to close up by/before 11 though. It was great to meet Glenn, and for Andre to have joined us; the Dalva '52 was WOTN closely followed by the TV69; Daniel's pork pie was a superb palate-cleanser between courses. We finished most of the 11 bottles between 8 of us (just a few sample bottles) and all left happy; an excellent evening. More detail and photos later.
Last edited by PhilW on 08:39 Fri 26 Sep 2014, edited 3 times in total.

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flash_uk
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Re: 2014 Pre-harvest tasting, Glenn visits 23rd Sept

Post by flash_uk » 13:16 Wed 24 Sep 2014

Many thanks to Glenn for getting us together and for his generous supply of a rare and fine bottle of Dalva '52, and to Phil for getting the logistics nailed! And congratulations to Andre on his first offline.

Wonderful evening all in all. As Phil noted, room a tad cramped - 8 definitely the max. The air conditioning kept pace though, so it never got stuffy - in fact in some seats perhaps a little chilly in the direct blast of aircon air? Service very good. Food I would say was also very good, although not quite on par with TBH. Towards the end it did feel like we were being encouraged to drink up...suited me fine on this occasion given that I was up at 5 to catch a plane!

Brief thoughts on the juice. The colheitas were very nice, although the Taylor 64 ranked behind the others for me despite the price premium. The big '85s did not turn up. G66 was very pleasant as ever, SW77 very enjoyable, my favourite though was the TV69.

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Re: 2014 Pre-harvest tasting, Glenn visits 23rd Sept

Post by djewesbury » 13:20 Wed 24 Sep 2014

The chips were better than the Bung Hole. Ooh that duck fat. Don't get that in Holborn.
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Glenn E.
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Re: 2014 Pre-harvest tasting, Glenn visits 23rd Sept

Post by Glenn E. » 21:59 Wed 24 Sep 2014

My tasting notes and broader commentary will have to wait until after the Harvest Tour, as I'm not fond of writing much while using an iPad. But I wanted to make sure to thank Phil for taking care of the arrangements, Daniel for the excellent pork pie, and Wolfgang for covering my share.

A splendid tasting all around. I was quite surprised at the quality of the T85 along with the lack thereof from the G85 and F85, which resulted in them all being roughly equal. This was easily the best T85 that I can remember, but also among the worst for F85 and G85. I've had all three over the last few years, but never like this. If this is normal for London then much has been explained.

Thanks everyone for entertaining an overseas compatriot! We do need to have a TPF tasting in Seattle some day. I'll provide the BBQ! ;)
Glenn Elliott

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Re: 2014 Pre-harvest tasting, Glenn visits 23rd Sept

Post by CPR 1 » 20:59 Thu 25 Sep 2014

A good evening as always and great to meet Glen for the first, plus my first white port which was very enjoyable. Thank you Glen for this although I understand I shouldn't now try any other white ports now!

Thanks also to Phil for organising

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Re: 2014 Pre-harvest tasting, Glenn visits 23rd Sept

Post by idj123 » 13:37 Fri 26 Sep 2014

As has been pointed the (temporary?) venue lacked the size and indeed the atmosphere of TBH. The food was good and the service attentive although perhaps a little overly so. However, to eat in the sane space as the tasting glasses was I'm sure the main cause of some duck/goose fat ending up on my newish suit :(

Great to meet Glenn and Andre and to drink a more informal array of Ports than is usual. Clear WOTN was the lovely Dalva 52 and the Ports on the LHS of the 'board' broadly fared better than the RHS-probably because more was expected of the F85 (which I hadn't tasted before) and the G85 was not as good as I have had it in the past-indeed the 85s were probably usurped by the Ch85 which I rather enjoyed. Also good to see that my purchase of a case (of 6) Pocas 64 Colheita is not going to be in vain as at pricing point of half that of the T64, it showed arguably better!

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Re: 2014 Pre-harvest tasting, Glenn visits 23rd Sept

Post by idj123 » 11:50 Sun 28 Sep 2014

I omitted to give a shout out to Daniel for his most excellent pork pie-more at future tastings please :D

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Re: 2014 Pre-harvest tasting, Glenn visits 23rd Sept

Post by WS1 » 14:11 Sun 28 Sep 2014

It was a lovely evening and great to meet Glen. The Dalva 52 was the best wine of the night. Other than that the 85s did not show as great as they can. I fear they will always be a bit of a mixed bag. Thanks to Phil for organising!
As a venue it was nice but would also prefer the more relaxed atmosphere in the Bunghole.

regards

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Re: 2014 Pre-harvest tasting, Glenn visits 23rd Sept

Post by DRT » 15:39 Sun 28 Sep 2014

WS1 wrote:As a venue it was nice but would also prefer the more relaxed atmosphere in the Bunghole.
I was told that The Bunghole is to be turned into a flashy, modern wine bar. I think the days of us having a relaxed atmosphere in an old-world setting are over at that venue :(
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Re: 2014 Pre-harvest tasting, Glenn visits 23rd Sept

Post by PhilW » 17:14 Sun 28 Sep 2014

DRT wrote:
WS1 wrote:As a venue it was nice but would also prefer the more relaxed atmosphere in the Bunghole.
I was told that The Bunghole is to be turned into a flashy, modern wine bar. I think the days of us having a relaxed atmosphere in an old-world setting are over at that venue :(
According to our hostess on Tuesday, who will be moving to Holborn when the refurbishment is completed, it will be changing name again as well, to "Davy's wine bar". We will have to see how it turns out, and how the facilities and menu turn out once complete.

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Re: 2014 Pre-harvest tasting, Glenn visits 23rd Sept

Post by PhilW » 17:42 Sun 28 Sep 2014

So, we arrived at Davy's Woolgate bar and brasserie around 6pm. Daniel and André were already at a table upstairs sipping Churchill and champagne, but the place was pretty busy and I figured we might need some prep time, so we headed downstairs; the stairs are on the left, immediately next to the entrance when you walk in; at the bottom of the stairs there are toilets on your left, and an entrance to the kitchens on the right; further on the left is the small private room, and ahead/right is a larger private dining area; we were in the former.

The small private room is really only big enough for a maximum of eight for a tasting (assuming eating as well as tasting in the same room); it would be comfortable for six, a squeeze for eight, 10 might be possible if only tasting or eating, but not both. When we arrived, the glasses had been put on the table for us ready; however given the limited space we had to remove the placemats, and then it was like a sliding puzzle game to move glasses and get tasting mats in place while giving ourselves room to eat, but no problem once sorted. At one end of the room, a large image of a cellar was on the wall, which was appropriate. From one end (as you walk in):
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while from the other end:
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Service was excellent, as was the quality of the food; Bea looked after us very well (as always) and the food was very similar to TBH with the exception of the chips which were superior here. In addition, as an extra course between starter and main, we all had a superb pork pie - thank you again Daniel.
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We had 11 ports between the eight of us; the two additions on the second sheet were a Tesco BOB brought by PhilW on request by André, and additional blind bottle from Glenn, which turned out to be a Churchill '85 (with the only points going to Daniel and I for guessing the year correctly, but not the shipper). The WOTN was the Dalva Golden White '52 (16), followed by the Taylor Vargellas '69 (13) and Graham '66 (10) as the outright clear winners for the evening.

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Re: 2014 Pre-harvest tasting, Glenn visits 23rd Sept

Post by PhilW » 17:48 Sun 28 Sep 2014

The voting was as follows:
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Most people agreed that of the '85s, the Fonseca was the poorest of the three; most people also seem to have had very good bottles of F85 recently/previously, so I must be unlucky in that every bottle I have had to date has been like this one: closed, with comparatively minimal smell or flavour. However, the left-hand sheet performed superbly, with the Dalva standing out (though the Pocas '64 doing well by comparison to the Taylor '64 amongst the Colheitas), and both the TV69 and G66 showing very well.

Another interesting feature was Glenn's observation that the T85 was far better than any he has had state-side, while the G85 and F85 he would have considered flawed, being much worse than any he has tasted while in the US. Additionally, the Ch85 which Glenn brought was quite different to the Ch85s which I have had in the UK, where Glenn's had an almost sherbet and raspberries flavour, while most Ch85 I have tasted has a much softer style; some potentially interesting US/UK differences.

In all, it was a very enjoyable evening, space-issues aside the new venue worked well, and it was great to finally meet Glenn and to have André attending his first UK offline with us.

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Re: 2014 Pre-harvest tasting, Glenn visits 23rd Sept

Post by jdaw1 » 21:51 Mon 29 Sep 2014

Thank you for the excellent report.

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Re: 2014 Pre-harvest tasting, Glenn visits 23rd Sept

Post by AW77 » 22:40 Mon 29 Sep 2014

I think all has been said about our tasting, but not by all. :)
It was indeed a great evening. First of all, it was really nice to see Daniel and Phil again. Besides, it was good to meet new people and so discover the real life person behind the avatar on the forum. I as a newcomer felt very welcome right from the start. So thanks for your kind hospitality.
The venue was quite functional, but not really cosy in a way that you felt at home there. What added to this feeling was the staff. After 10 o'clock, the waitress constantly searched the room for every empty glass she could find to take to the kitchen. In the end we were kind of ushered out at around 11 o'clock. I really would have liked to have spend more time in the excellent company I had.
The food was good and most ports were excellent. I was particularly disappointed that the major '85s showed so badly. I really like some primary fruit left in my port and thus was very keen on these '85s. But the TV69, the White Dalva, the '64 Pocas and the '85 Churchill made up for that.
Thanks Glenn for convening and thanks Phil for organising this tasting.
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Re: 2014 Pre-harvest tasting, Glenn visits 23rd Sept

Post by Glenn E. » 11:55 Mon 06 Oct 2014

Just a quick note before we head to Heathrow one more time - I picked up my bottles from Davy's Woolgate this morning and met Simon. Thanks again to all involved. I will attempt to get my TNs and review written ASAP after we get back to Seattle.
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Re: 2014 Pre-harvest tasting, Glenn visits 23rd Sept

Post by Glenn E. » 18:22 Mon 13 Oct 2014

I'm finally back in the US, caught up on most things, and have the time to start getting TNs posted. Whew!

First off, this is definitely the way to do a Port Harvest Tour. Having a few days in London before a couple of days in Porto, all before the official start of the Tour, really set things up nicely for a great vacation. I apparently didn't think that the usual ~150 Ports on the tour would be sufficient, because I managed to taste 46 before the tour officially started!

The Premier Inn Holborn was a fine hotel. It's nothing fancy, but fancy wasn't needed. We barely spent any time in the room at all when not sleeping, and the beds were quite comfortable. Well, other than the Premier Inn having adopted what seems to be the current craze at hotels, which is to provide nothing other than a duvet on the bed. A duvet that would probably be sufficient outdoors under the stars in December in the Shetland Isles. This craze needs to go! Please put a sheet and a blanket on my bed... anything more is far too much. Thankfully the staff was happy to provide a sheet so that we could sleep without waking up drenched in sweat.

TBH is just around the corner, so we did get to at least see it, though it was completely gutted and under renovation.
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So we needed an alternate venue. Luckily Davy's at Woolgate is also nearby.

I thought the private room at Woolgate was fine. At minimum, it is similar to the private rooms we have used on occasion in Seattle. My experience with restaurant rooms is that they're more interested in serving you food than providing space for tons of glasses, and the experience at Woolgate followed that tradition. That said, we did have plenty of room for 8 people and didn't have to make too many sacrifices for space while the food was present. All-around a good experience, but not a spectacular one. I'd rate the room itself 87 on the 100-point scale - very good but not excellent. I'd happily use it again, but would always be on the lookout for a better location.

The food, on the other hand, was superb. The fries (chips?) were outstanding. I'd go back just for a plate of those fries and a bowl of béarnaise sauce. My first ever pork pie was amazing - thank you Daniel! Were it not for the dozens of glasses on the table when we arrived, I'd have been content with dinner and conversation.

But there were glasses to be filled and Port to be consumed!

This was one of the best showings I've had for the '52 Dalva Golden White. It's always a superb Port, but this bottle had something special going on. I'm pleased to have been able to ruin white Port forever for a couple of people in attendance. :wink: (Side note: I had the 1935 Kopke and 1917 Niepoort on the Harvest Tour, and neither could best the 1952 Dalva Golden White.)

The 1964 Pocas Colheita was my #2 on the night. Another excellent showing for a Port that I wasn't even aware existed not that long ago. It is rich and pleasant; overall an excellent example of what a 50-yr old Colheita can be.

The 1966 Graham Vintage Port prevented a clean sweep by the wood-aged entries, though the 1964 Taylor (Krohn) Colheita put up a decent fight. I just thought that the Graham's velvety smooth and rich palate won out. The Taylor also felt a little bit rough to me, but since this was my first time tasting it I can't say whether or not that's normal or just an attribute of this particular bottle.

As others have already mentioned, the 1985s were very interesting. I've never had a Taylor that good, nor have I had a Fonseca or Graham that lackluster. (I won't call them bad, because they weren't, but based on my experience they clearly weren't up to par.) Most telling for me, though, was that the Churchill was the best of the 4 on this night. That's as unusual for me as the Taylor's performance. I was a point higher than usual on the Churchill (usually a solid 92), 1-2 points higher on the Taylor (usually 90-91), and 2-3 points lower than usual on the Fonseca and Graham (both usually in the 94-95 range).

The 1969 Vargellas was an odd bottle for me. If I hadn't known it was 45 years old, I'd have thought it might be in a phase. It seemed a bit hot, peppery, and unsettled, so contrary to the consensus (2nd overall) I had it in 9th on the night, edging out only the oddly muted 1977 Smith Woodhouse and the merrily jammy 1994 Tesco.

It was a pleasure finally meeting everyone in person. Thank you all for getting my 50th birthday trip off to a grand start. If any of you are ever going to be in Seattle you must let me know so that we can arrange a gathering. If the time of year is appropriate, I'll make barbeque!
Glenn Elliott

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Re: 2014 Pre-harvest tasting, Glenn visits 23rd Sept

Post by Alex Bridgeman » 13:27 Tue 14 Oct 2014

I could swear that's JDAW at the top of the ladder measuring the new shelves to see if they are wide enough to hold empty double magnums.
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