Graham’s enjoys receiving and entertaining a wide variety of visitors throughout the year, and recently welcomed members of The Worshipful Company of Distillers to a tasting and luncheon at our offices in Vila Nova de Gaia.
This City of London Livery Company was founded in the 17th century and granted a monopoly and rights to control the distilling trade within 21 miles of London and Westminster. It has enjoyed a long and colourful history, and continues to be active today supporting education and “conviviality” within the drinks trade, as well as raising funds to support a number of educational and benevolent charities.
Naturally entertaining fellow professionals is a wonderful challenge – as veterans of the drinks business our visitors know the fundamentals of how our Ports are made, and are certainly familiar with many of our wines from previous tasting events as well as their own personal cellars.
Johnny Symington and Henry Shotton decided to host a vertical tasting which would demonstrate the gradual change in flavour profile as Port ages in bottle. They chose 8 Graham’s Vintage Ports, including 1970, 1977, 1980, 1994, 1997, Malvedos 1999, 2000 and 2007. The set up of such a complex tasting for 30 people called for great organisation and attention to detail, with Senhor Lapa and Nuno Moreira of our Tasting Room helping Johnny and Henry set up the places, decant and serve the Ports.
The event was very relaxed, and everyone enjoyed the open discussion and exchange of stories and experiences over long careers in the wine and spirits trades. Allan Cheesman, formerly the buyer for UK supermarket chain Sainsbury’s, particularly enjoyed the 1977, as that was the year of his first visit to Porto. He later wrote to say, “Can’t recall doing such a vintage vertical like that and I’ve been around for a while!” Another guest commented on having enjoyed the Quinta dos Malvedos 1950 many times over his career – much to Johnny’s envy, who has only tasted it once, and may never have another opportunity as the last bottles were served at our Quinta tastings in London and Lisbon last October.
The 1970 was particularly seductive, one of Henry Shotton’s favourites of the event, though he picked the 1994 and 2007 as also showing particularly well at this stage of their development.
Afterwards, the group enjoyed a glass of the Graham’s 1952 Single Harvest Tawny, which was recently released to commemorate the the Diamond Jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. They then went on to have lunch with Johnny, Paul and Rupert Symington at our offices and a tour of the Graham’s Lodge before heading up to the Douro for a few days, beginning with dinner at Dow’s Quinta do Bomfim with Dominic Symington.