Friday night Charles Symington was in London for one of his favourite events: the Berry Brothers & Rudd Port Walk. On the last Friday of November for some years now, BBR has invited Charles to co-host this event with Simon Field, BBR’s Port and Iberian wine buyer.
The evening is an extraordinary chance to taste 20 different ports, including examples of white, ruby and tawny, followed by, as Simon expressed it, an unashamed 15 different vintage ports from 1970 to 1998, including Graham’s and some of the other brands made by Symington Family Estates (SFE).
Charles tasted every wine on the table – both SFE’s and those made by our neighbours in Gaia and the Douro. He was very pleased with how our wines were showing, and when asked his personal favourite, admitted to some fond memories of the Graham’s 1970, which was served at his own wedding as well as on several other memorable occasions.
In his remarks during the evening, Charles said he thought this format – an informal walkaround tasting of such a wide range of port styles and vintages – is an exceptional opportunity to learn which ports and what age of vintage you prefer. Whilst it is traditional to drink aged vintage ports – anything upward of 20 years – many people find, on tasting, that they may prefer, or enjoy as well, younger vintages which are still full of rich ripe red and black fruit, rather than the mellower dried fruit or secondary flavours that characterise older ports.
In addition, Berry Bros provided canapés, so it was possible to try the different ports with such foods as game terrine, foie gras, Stilton and a chocolate brownie with chocolate mousse; again a great opportunity to test out personal preferences in combinations of tawny or vintage with different foods.
If you would like to follow the tasting events at Berry Bros, or check the incredible range of ports available from their shop or mail order, consult their website is at http://www.bbr.com/