Last Friday Graham’s hosted UK wine and food personality Olly Smith at the Lodge. UK readers will know Olly from his work presenting Channel 4’s Secret Supper Club as well as his appearances in a broad range of food and wine shows on all the major channels, and his role as Wine Editor of The Mail on Sunday’s Live magazine, and contributions to Sainsbury’s Drinks Magazine.
With only a little more than an hour to spare before heading to the airport, Lodge tour guide Emiliano gave Olly a very succinct introduction to our Lodge, our winemaking and Douro vineyards, pausing only to indulge a little wishful thinking when they visited the Garrafeira (wine cellar) where we keep our oldest bottles of port.
Paul Symington then met Olly and took him upstairs to the Board Dining Room for a tasting of a range of Symington Family Estates wines. They began with three of SFE’s Douro DOC wines (Altano Branco 2010, Altano Tinto 2009 and Altano Quinta do Ataide Reserva 2008), which are produced from organically farmed grapes at our estates in the Douro Superior. Olly and Paul discussed the rise in interest in Portuguese table wines, and the viability of Douro wines as an attractive choice for palates jaded by all the usual suspects.
They then enjoyed a broad range of Graham’s Ports, including Six Grapes, our 10, 20, 30 and 40 Year Old Tawnies, the 2005 Late Bottled Vintage, and of course our extraordinary Vintage Ports, including the 1999 Quinta dos Malvedos and Graham’s 1994, 2000 and 2007 Vintages.
Throughout the tasting Paul explained the making of our wines and shared anecdotes of the harvests and the family’s history in the Port trade. Olly was already familiar with many of our wines (this past winter he recommended our LBV 2005, calling it “life affirming”!), but was very enthusiastic, enjoying both the wines and the opportunity to discuss them with Paul.
Finally, Paul shared a wine from one of our sister brands, the just-released Warre’s Vintage Port 2009. This special edition Vintage Port has been released to commemorate the liberation of Porto from the French by the Duke of Wellington, and the proceeds from the sale of the wine will go to veterans’ charities in the UK and Portugal.
Naturally a discussion of the wine led to a discussion of the events it commemorates, and Paul and Olly stepped out onto the balcony. The spectacular view from Graham’s Lodge encompasses both the Porto and Gaia sides of the river, so Paul was able to point out various landmarks from the Peninsular War, as well as recommend other places to visit when Olly returns, as he clearly would like to, soon.