The VINUM Restaurant & Wine Bar at Graham’s 1890 Lodge — now open!

Vinum_LogoFollowing months of careful preparation, the VINUM restaurant at Graham’s opened its doors to the public on February 19th. The VINUM Restaurant & Wine Bar forms an integral part of Graham’s renovated 1890 Lodge, sections of which have already opened to visitors. The new visitors’ centre — ‘Graham’s 1890 Lodge’ — will be formally inaugurated on the 21st of March. This is a full working Port Lodge in Vila Nova de Gaia and especially attractive in that it now offers its visitors a restaurant and wine bar. Graham’s has teamed up with SAGARDI, www.gruposagardi.com , internationally recognized as specialists in wine-related gastronomy at the very highest level. At VINUM, you are presented with ideal food pairings for the Symington family’s extensive range of Douro and Port wines. The entrées, main courses and desserts are specially created to accompany these wines.

The Vinum Restaurant in the Graham's 1890 Lodge
The Vinum Restaurant in the Graham’s 1890 Lodge

VINUM’S Portuguese team will strive from the outset to create wonderful food from all the best natural ingredients that can be produced in, and sourced from, the North of Portugal, including of course, the Douro Valley and from the cold and clean deep waters of the neighbouring Atlantic Ocean. The Portuguese Atlantic coast has a world reputation as a source of some of the world’s very best seafood. Fresh fish will be served daily from the day’s catch, obtained from the local Matosinhos fishing harbour.

Another view of the Vinum restaurant.
Another view of the Vinum Restaurant.

Vinum’s setting is very much in the Lodge environment. To one side, once sat down at their table, diners can view the seemingly endless rows of pipes, separated from the restaurant by a clever, discreet metal and glass screen. On the opposite side there is the large bulk of the Lodge’s granite walls. Elegant iron columns support the attractive original Riga pine timbers and roofing; their seasoned tones casting an inviting, soft golden light over the tables. In short, a very atmospheric surrounding in which to enjoy delicious meals with some wonderful wines.

The 'Privado' area of the Restaurant; a reserved area for small groups or private parties.
The ‘Privado’ area of the Restaurant; a reserved area for small groups or private parties.

The restaurant comfortably seats up to 90 people and a further 64 in the adjoining Atrium terrace. If required, an additional 16 people can be accommodated at the chef’s private table. VINUM is open all year round, serving lunch and dinner, as well as light snacks and wine by the glass in the wine bar.

The Atrium: The VINUM restaurant also features a very attractive external covered seating area, on the terrace adjoining the main Lodge façade and known as ‘The Atrium.’ This terrace has one of the very best views of any restaurant in Gaia and Porto. Given the Graham’s Lodge location on high ground, it commands expansive views of the old medieval quarters of Porto and Gaia, as well as the iconic Dom Luis ‘double-decker’ bridge over the Douro River. This view is spectacular both during the day and at night, when all the medieval landmarks are beautifully floodlit. This terrace can furthermore be enjoyed in all weathers as a well designed, graceful conservatory type structure allows for year-round usage and therefore, come rain or sunshine, VINUM’S diners can always enjoy the remarkable vistas.

'The Atrium' at Vinum; enjoy your meal with incomparable views.
‘The Atrium’ at Vinum; enjoy your meal with incomparable views.

The Wine bar: with its stylish and carefree bistro ambience, visitors can enjoy a variety of snacks (‘tapas’, ‘pintxos’, sweet pastries) and wine by the glass, seated on tall stools around the bar itself or at small round tables. There is also an outside, open air terrace, ideal for enjoying Porto’s year round sunshine with a chilled white wine or perhaps a lightly chilled Old Tawny Port.

The stylish wine bar at Vinum
The stylish wine bar at Vinum

Bring your family and friends and pay us a visit at Vinum; we are confident you will be impressed. Why not come before lunch and visit our museum and lodge, enjoy an appetizer at the wine bar and then progress to the restaurant proper to sample Vinum’s superb gastronomy?

The Wine Bar at Vinum: come and enjoy wines by the glass with some great tapas
The Wine Bar at Vinum: come and enjoy wines by the glass with some great tapas!

If you would like to book a table please ring +351 220 930 417 or email us at: reservas@vinumatgrahams.com

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Tracking the Season – 9 February

Quinta do Tua 12:47, 9 February, a beautiful sunny winter day
Quinta do Tua,  9 February 12:47, a beautiful sunny winter’s day

The weather for our most recent visit to Graham’s Quinta dos Malvedos and Quinta do Tua could not have been more different from January’s visit:  instead of overcast and low fog, we had some brilliant warm sunshine and mostly clear blue skies, though the moment the sun dropped behind the hills opposite it felt sharply colder and wintry once again.

In January we had plenty of rain – over 100mm at Malvedos.  Alexandre Mariz, our viticulturist, is very pleased, but still wants more before he will feel really confident  about deep water reserves and prospects for the coming year.  In another example of the intense, almost bizarre, micro-climatisation here in the Douro, he mentioned that the quinta on the south bank of the river directly opposite Quinta do Tua received almost 30mm more rain than we did at Malvedos just slightly down river on the north bank!

The pruning is all done, and a small team was working to pull down from the trellises the last of the cut vines for shredding and turning into the soil.  Alexandre’s main concern right now is the surriba in the upper part of Malvedos, where we are re-landscaping 5 hectares of hillside.  Because of the heavy rains in January we lost 8 days’ work, and we need to complete the landscaping and soil preparation in time for planting later in February or early March.

Earlier this winter we planted the cover crops in between rows of vines in the vertically planted vineyards on the western end of Malvedos, and already the mixture of legumes and grasses have begun to sprout and you can see a fine haze of green between rows of vines.

Malvedos Touriga Nacional 9 February 14:36
Malvedos Touriga Nacional 9 February 14:36

For 2013 we will again monitor a single vine to exemplify the season, and we have chosen a young Touriga Nacional, one of a large parcel planted in 2005 on the hillside that forms an ampitheatre behind the house, facing the river.  As a more recently planted vine, it is trained in a single cordon along the lower wire, and last year’s shoots have been pruned down to leave just two buds on each spur.

Touriga Nacional is perhaps the most well known of the grape varieties used to make Port wines.  It has an extraordinarily complex flavour and aroma profile, with black fruits such as cassis, mulberry and raspberry predominating, but it can also bring floral notes such as violets and rockrose.  It has strong tannins and balanced acidity which give its wines great structure and ageing potential.

The almond trees have begun to blossom at Malvedos, a sure sign winter will be drawing to an end soon.

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Graham's Ports Leave Their Mark in Memorable Tasting

10th EDITION OF ESSÊNCIA DO VINHO ‘ ESSENCE OF WINE’ FESTIVAL

The Essência do Vinho, now in its tenth edition, is the principal wine event held annually in northern Portugal, and generates ever increasing interest not just from the trade — wine professionals, sommeliers and restaurateurs — but also from consumers (Portuguese and foreign) as well as journalists from Portugal and from farther afield. The organizers prepared a very comprehensive and interesting programme for the 2013 edition, featuring a number of tutored tastings, which revolve around varied themes, involving both Portuguese wines and wines from other countries. More than 20,000 visitors are expected over the four-day event (7th – 10th February).

Porto's old stock exchange, the venue for the 10th edition of "Essência do Vinho."
Porto’s old stock exchange, the venue for the 10th edition of “Essência do Vinho.”

The venue is the magnificent old Stock Exchange building in Porto (the Palácio da Bolsa) and under its covered, lofty courtyard, 350 wine producers are showing visitors over 3000 different wines. This has always proven one of the reasons for the event’s great popularity: the fact consumers, and wine enthusiasts generally, can discuss their favourite wines directly with the producers and winemakers themselves. The atmosphere is very relaxed and very rewarding for the scope it allows visitors in tasting wines from Portugal’s varied and rich wine heritage, ranging from the country’s great fortified wines (Port and Madeira) to the up-and-coming dry wines from the Douro, Alentejo and the Dão, as well as those from other less well known regions.

The covered courtyard where exhibitors show their wines.
The covered courtyard where exhibitors show their wines.

One of the themed tastings that has generated greatest interest over the last few days has been Symington Family Estates’s ‘Voyage in Time: 3 Centuries – 10 Wines’ — a tutored tasting hosted by Paul Symington on Saturday, February 9th. Indeed as soon as it was announced, it was almost immediately sold out and the organizers approached the family asking if it were possible to accommodate more people (from the original starting figure of 25). This isn’t quite as simple as it sounds, because when you’ve only got a few dozen bottles of the legendary Graham’s 1948 left in your private family cellar, it isn’t a mute point!  In the end, a few additional people were accommodated and they were very grateful that they managed a place because the tasting proved to be indeed memorable.

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Manuel Rocha (left), fourth generation blender at Graham’s and Henry Shotton (our winemaker at Quinta dos Malvedos) comment the 1948 Graham’s they have just decanted

Of the 10 Ports tasted, Graham’s provided the main offering, showing 5 wines; the 1948, 1963 and 1970 Vintages, as well as the 1952 (‘Diamond Jubilee’) and 1935 Colheita, or Single Harvest Tawnies. Landmark Vintage Ports from the family’s three other Port marques (Cockburn, Dow and Warre) were also present and the tasting culminated on a very high note with the unprecedented opportunity of sampling a treasured family heirloom, a very old family reserve (cask-matured) Port dating from the late 19th century. The tasting was held in the ‘Arab Salon’ — an exquisitely decorated chamber of the old stock exchange well known as a venue for ceremonial events.

The tasting gets off to a start in the magnificent 'Arab Salon' of the stock exchange
The tasting gets off to a start in the magnificent ‘Arab Salon’ of the stock exchange

The first Graham’s wine shown was the 1970, heralded as one of the finest Vintage Ports of the second half of the twentieth century. Paul commented to the captive audience of tasters that, in his opinion, this is indeed one of the finest 3 or 4 Vintages of the last half-century. The 1970 holds a particular significance for Paul and his family as it was the first Graham’s Vintage made by them, shortly after acquiring the famous Port house. Paul’s father and his cousins, who made the wine, couldn’t have wished for a more auspicious start. One could say this Port is 43 years young, such is the evident capacity of this impressive wine to carry on developing still further (years? decades?). But if you are fortunate enough to have this gorgeous wine in your cellar, why wait any longer to enjoy it?? It is drinking magnificently well right now.

Paul Symington enthuses the virtues of the legendary Graham's 1948
Paul Symington enthuses the virtues of the legendary Graham’s 1948

The next wine sampled was the 1963, and once again one could be forgiven for heaping superlatives on this half-century old Port. As Paul pointed out — just how many of the world’s fine wines can reach 50 years of age and still show such balance, complexity, sheer completeness? The 1963 was a landmark Vintage; it marked a turnaround in Port’s fortunes following the post world war II era when sales of Port took a long time to recover.

Only two bottles of the 1948 were made available by the family for this tasting.
Only two bottles of the 1948 were made available by the family for this tasting.

The legendary Graham’s 1948 was next and it proved one of the several high points of the tasting. As Paul remarked, “this is a wine that commands respect and admiration”. The wine showed an ethereal quality, with hints of mint, cinnamon and nuances of coffee (a distinctive hallmark of the 1948). A superbly refined wine with ripple after ripple of flavours and sensations, culminating with an endless, persistent aftertaste. Recovering from flu, Paul told the audience that he was feeling much better for sampling all these superb wines — the very best medicine he could take for a speedy recovery! This is a wine that deserves to be enjoyed on its own, without any unnecessary distractions.

Following this majestic trio of Vintages, Paul guided the gathered tasters through the other great interpretation of the art of Port: the cask-matured wines. The exquisitely elegant and charming Graham’s 1952 Diamond Jubilee surprised the tasters with its vitality and freshness, belying its 60 years of age. The subtlety of the 1935 enchanted all those present, but the best was kept till last: the family reserve dating from the late 19th century. The concentration and complexity of this exceptional wine left everyone spellbound by its sheer intensity and presence. Layer upon layer of flavours teased the assembled palates, leaving everybody enchanted. The aftertaste will linger for a long time in the memory of those who were privileged to take part in this tasting.

To learn more about all the Vintage Ports shown at this tasting, read  the blog on The Vintage Port Site.

The trio of Graham's Vintage Ports tasted; they provided the tasters with a memorable experience.
The trio of Graham’s Vintage Ports tasted; they provided the tasters with a memorable experience.
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WSET Diploma Awards: Graham’s Port Scholarship

Wine & Spirit Education Trust Awards & Graduation Ceremony at London’s Guildhall – Monday 21st of January.

On Monday evening, January 21st, over 500 Graduates, Scholarship prize winners and other guests gathered at the City of London’s historic Guildhall to celebrate the successes of the Wine & Spirit Education Trust’s (WSET) students in the past academic year (2011 – 2012). Paul Symington, Joint Managing Director of Graham’s was there to hand over the Graham’s Port Scholarship to the winner: Adam Guy (Antique Wine Company) in recognition of his achievements in the Fortified Wine exam. Adam has won a five day trip to Portugal’s Upper Douro Valley where he will visit Graham’s vineyards, including the flagship estate: Quinta dos Malvedos.

Paul Symington presents Adam Guy with the Graham's Scholarship prize. Jancis Robinson looks on.
Paul Symington presents Adam Guy with the Graham’s Scholarship prize, as Jancis Robinson looks on.

Opening the ceremony, the WSET Honorary President, Jancis Robinson OBE MW commented on the changing dynamics of the global wine world as reflected in WSET’s business, noting: “Despite the continued growth of student numbers in the UK, the fact is that Greater China is set to overtake the UK as WSET’s biggest market this year, something I would have never imagined possible when I did my Diploma”.

In her introduction to the 2013 WSET Yearbook, Jancis Robinson very aptly writes, “There really is a strong argument that the spread of wine, wine drinking and wine study is akin to the spread of cultural life.”

Graham’s is proud to be associated with the Wine and Spirit Education Trust, which provides wine education and qualifications on a truly global scale (present in 60 countries).

 

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