You know that we at Graham’s are obsessed with quality, but this is never more clear than when we are tasting our ports just one last time before committing to bottle or release a new wine.
Typically a cask sample or bottle will be brought up from the Lodge to our tasting rooms for our head wine maker Charles Symington to review and discuss with the Sala de Prova (tasting room) team. If he approves the quality and character of the wine, we go ahead with the commercial decisions to bottle wines presently in cask or to release bottles from storage at the Lodge into the marketplace.
Henry Shotton, whom our readers will know as the winemaker at Quinta dos Malvedos during harvest, is officially the first after Charles to taste the wines and begin writing up the tasting notes, but mysteriously enough word goes out those bottles are open and available to taste, and nearly every member of the family as well as Marketing and Sales (and blogging!) teams finds their way to the tasting room to check out the wines for themselves! Henry leaves his pad out for everyone to note down their impressions, and when the reviews are all in, he will draft the official technical tasting sheets which will be found on the Graham’s website.
Graham’s 2006 LBV
Last week, we had a cask sample of Graham’s 2006 LBV available for final review. The wine has been patiently ageing in immense wooden balseiros at our Lodge for nearly four years now, and the decision has been made to bottle this early in 2011. Unofficially, this is really luscious. Officially, the tasting notes are as follows:
Winemaker’s Comment on the 2006 Vintage
“While the last fermentations are ending at the time of writing, it is clear that there are some very fine tanks and casks of Port from the 2006 harvest amongst the total wine made this year. Overall it can be said that the average quality of wine made is reasonably good throughout the valley.”
Graham’s 2006 Late Bottled Vintage has a dark, opaque ruby colour with a deep red rim. With a lovely complex nose packed with opulent and powerful aromas of freshly picked rich, dark, blackberries, black cherries and hints of chocolate. The palate has a velvety intensity and is backed with solid, structured, rich and intense black fruit flavours.
A racy and firm tannic structure leads to a long, sweet and immensely seductive finish.
Graham’s Crusted Port Bottled 2003
The crusted style of port is possibly one of the least understood. Briefly, it is a blend of wines from two or possibly three harvest years which is aged two to three years in wood, then bottled without any fining or filtration, hence the name “crusted” as, after several years in bottle, a natural deposit will form. Just as for vintage ports, the wine should be stored lying on its side, and when ready to serve, should stand upright for a few hours to allow the deposit to settle before the wine is decanted. IVDP regulation only allows the year of bottling to feature on the label. Regulation also requires the maker hold the wine in bottle at least three years before releasing to the market. The wines will drink well upon release, but will age and develop in bottle very like a vintage port; in fact crusted port is an excellent value alternative to vintage.
In the case of Graham’s Crusted Port Bottled 2003, this was officially released last month, though another bottle was brought up from the Lodge last week together with the LBV sample and opened for everyone to check one more time! Official tasting notes:
Deep ruby colour with a red rim.
At the time of writing (2010) Graham’s Crusted Port bottled 2003 has beautifully mellow and perfumed bottle age bouquet. Intense nose of crushed berries and red fruits such as cherries combine with freshly picked mint and eucalyptus notes.
On the palate suave flavours of ripe blackberries and hints of dark chocolate are lifted by silky tannins and a fresh acidity, leading to a long persistent finish.
Drinking well. But still room to develop.
We certainly enjoyed these wines in the tasting room and hope you will enjoy them on your tables soon. When you do try them, please stop back and leave a comment for us here or on our Facebook page, we would love to hear from you.