With temperatures already reaching the 40s in the Douro Valley, it is now the time of year when the grapes change colour from a light pea green to the various tones of dark red that signify that veraison is well and truly underway.
Veraison, a French loanword, describes the phase in which the grapes ripen and become sweet. At the same time the fruit also becomes softer and begins to plump due to the concentration and accumulation of sugars under their thick skins.
The most common phrase heard in Portuguese vineyards at this time of year must be “o pintor chegou”, which means “the painter has arrived.” The fruit starts to change colour relatively quickly, although not uniformly, and it is normal to find a palate of different colours present on just one single bunch of grapes.
This year veraison began about 10 days early due to the dry, warm weather since the spring, and the grapes are already unusually sweet.
This year veraison was about 10 days early due to the dry, warm weather since the spring, and the grapes are already unusually sweet.
In the pages of the current issue of Decanter (August 2015), Richard Mayson, a renowned authority on Port and author of the book “Port and the Douro” (published by Infinity Ideas) responded to a question on what vintage Ports are currently ready for drinking by naming the best wines of the early ‘90s and ‘80s before saying “If I could choose just one year to drink now it would be 1970, and if I could choose one wine it would be Graham’s.”
Coming from an exceptionally hot year, and (at the time) the first since the Symington family acquired Graham’s, the 1970 Vintage Port displays a beautiful dark amber colour, lifted floral aromas on the nose, and hints of mint and spice with a slight smokiness. On the palate it is extremely rich and structured, with a vibrancy of tannins, flavours of lovely soft leather, and some plummy black fruit flavours.
The Grand Tour is a motoring event that is neither a race nor a rally. The meeting sees its participants drive some of the most breathtaking roads in Europe while deciphering cryptic clues in an attempt to win points. The team with the most points at the end of the five day journey wins the year’s Grand Tour.
Now in its 26th year, this time the Grand Tour passed through Porto on its way from León, in the north of Spain, and onwards to Sagres, in the south of Portugal.
On the first stop of the trip that will see the drivers travel the length of the Iberian Peninsula, the Grand Tour set up camp in the 18th century Palácio do Freixo where they were greeted by a tasting of several of Graham’s Ports. What better way to unwind after a hard day on the road!
The next day, the procession of classic cars continued on their way south and to their next stop, Cascais, near Lisbon.
Have a look at the tasting and some of the fantastic cars that made up the Grand Tour 2015 below:
TripAdvisor has once again awarded Graham’s 1890 Port Lodge in Vila Nova de Gaia with a “Certificate of Excellence” for receiving consistently good reviews from its visitors on the online platform.
TripAdvisor is a travel website that provides user-generated reviews of places and attractions worldwide and besides awarding Graham’s with the Certificate of Excellence, TripAdvisor have also rated Graham’s Lodge as the number one “thing to do” in Vila Nova de Gaia.
Although now open to tourism, Graham’s Lodge still plays a fundamental part in the ageing of all of the company’s Port, as it did when it was built in 1890. Situated on a hilltop overlooking the twin cities of Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia, a trip to the region is not complete without a visit to the lodge and a tasting of Graham’s Port.
On Saturday 13th of June, Symington Family Estates presented the Tabuaço Volunteer Fire Brigade with a new ambulance in recognition of the vital service that they provide to the local farming communities of the Douro. This is the eighth ambulance donated by Symington to the region’s volunteer fireman since 2007.
During the ceremony the volunteer firemen were commended for the dedication and courage that characterise the service that they provide to the local community. The firemen provide a vital lifeline in the case of medical emergencies, as well as combating the dangerous forest fires that occur annually in the Douro during the dry summer months.
The Symington family have previously donated ambulances to the volunteer firemen in the following Douro municipalities: Pinhão (2007), S. João da Pesqueira (2009), Provesende (2010), Carrazeda de Ansiães (2011), Lamego (2012), Régua (2013) Foz-Côa (2014) and now Tabuaço in 2015.