Tag Archives: Travel

A YEAR IN THE VINEYARDS – PART 9

In this ninth video of our series ‘A year in the vineyards’ we look at the winemaking at Quinta dos Malvedos, whose winery is fitted with three modern lagares.

The vintage · Winemaking

Once grape harvesting gets under way it is a non-stop marathon of round-the-clock activity in the vineyards and in the winery. At the Malvedos winery as in all our other specialist wineries, the grapes are still trodden; today in modern stainless steel lagares, which are simply an evolution of the time-honoured traditional foot treading in large, shallow basins made of granite, called lagares. The modern variants of these at Malvedos were installed in time for the 2000 vintage and they have worked extremely well ever since, making consistently outstanding wines. The lessons learnt here were then used in our other wineries up and down the valley where modern lagares have also been installed, namely at Quinta do Bomfim, Quinta da Cavadinha and Quinta da Senhora da Ribeira.

Symington’s Own Kayak Team

Rob and Gareth in front kayak, Alexander beyond, near Vale Coelho

Paul Symington’s son Rob, together with friends Gareth and Alexander, took to the Douro by kayak the past few days, beginning at the Spanish border.  Well, mostly by kayak.  There was the taxi ride in an old school bus (which luckily fit the kayaks!) when they were told to get off the river for a stretch which was closed to all traffic at this season, and the three hour portage to go around the dam at Pocinho.

On the other hand, there were hours on the river to enjoy the spectacular scenery and peace of this remote region, and the kayaking at night, with nothing but the silhouettes of the surrounding mountains to give them their bearings.  Too long a stretch of straightaway made them wonder if they were moving forward at all, but they finally reached a bend in the river to re-assure them and were able to navigate safely from there to their planned campground.

Nor did they have the luxury of lunch at Malvedos.  Instead, they camped out along the river, and enjoyed a three course dinner of freeze dried soup, freeze dried shepherd’s pie and freeze dried rice pudding, all reconstituted with boiled river water.

Ready for the next haul, from near Malhadas down to Pinhão L to R Gareth, Alexander, Rob

Yesterday morning, however, Dominic Symington was visiting Quinta do Vale Coelho (opposite Graham’s Quinta do Vale de Malhadas, in the Douro Superior) and spotted the lads on the river and hailed them over.  We agreed to meet in the village of Senhora da Ribeira, where Dominic treated them to a round of coffee followed by a round of beer.  Breakfast of champions indeed!

When we saw them off, they were hoping to make it to Ferradosa for a sandwich and then to the Valeira dam in time for the scheduled lock opening.  They must have paddled like madmen, as later in the afternoon Dominic and I went downriver on the train, and spotted them larking about above the dam in plenty of time.  The winery team watched them pass Malvedos in the late afternoon, so they must have made it to Pinhão to meet a friend for sunset drinks.  Their plan was to spend the night with Rob’s parents at Quinta das Netas near Warre’s Quinta da Cavadinha in the Pinhão valley and relax on dry land for a few days before returning to England.

Malvedos by Kayak

Arriving at Malvedos by Kayak

For some years now we have watched a group of kayakers pass by Quinta dos Malvedos during harvest.  This year they stopped and came to visit.

Raul had hosted the group to a tasting at the Graham’s Lodge just a few days earlier, after which they travelled out to the far end of the Douro at the Spanish border and began their kayak journey down river in easy stages.  Today, they started at the Valeira Dam, and after coming through the lock, paddled down river and landed at Quinta dos Malvedos.

At the house, Raul was waiting to greet them once again and together with trip leader Olaf Malver of Explorer’s Corner hosted a lunch of traditional bacalhau with potatoes and cream, serving Graham’s 20 Year Old Tawny with the cheese afterwards.  The visitors, mostly Americans, and most of whom had never before visited the region, were fascinated by the terraced vineyard landscape and asked many questions of Raul and the blogger about the wines, the region, the house and the vineyards.

Raul becomes an honorary Swede

Olaf, commenting on Raul’s startling blue eyes, said he must be Danish as well as Portuguese and proceeded to salute him with a table and chest thumping clap, whoop and holler.  If he wasnt Danish before, Raul has been inducted now!

While the winery team carried on business as usual, receiving grapes and beginning the treading on our second lagar while Henry was keeping up with the paperwork, Raul showed our visitors over the winery, explained the unique processes for making port and talked them through the vineyard map and picking.

The group left by car, trailering their kayaks to Pinhão, from which they will leave tomorrow to kayak on to Regua.  We look forward to seeing them again next year!

Reasons to Visit Graham’s Lodge

August is the month almost everyone takes at least some time off work.  Have you thought of coming to visit Graham’s Lodge in Vila Nova de Gaia?  There are lots of good reasons to come to our Lodge, some of which are featured in the gallery below.

If you have a large group, contact Isabel or any of the team at grahams at grahamsportlodge dot com to make arrangements (use the usual symbols, we just spell it out here to avoid spam).

Click into the first thumbnail below to open the photo into a full size page, then use the hyperlinks at the base of the photo to scroll back and forth through the gallery and read more about what’s on offer at the Lodge.

A Chance to Visit Malvedos

How would you like to stand at the top of the vineyard at Quinta dos Malvedos and see the view in the banner photo above, uncropped?  Or relax on the veranda in the photo (right) with your morning orange juice (fresh squeezed, from the orange grove just east of the house) or afternoon chilled Tawny?

Then please come visit the Graham’s Lodge in Vila Nova de Gaia some time this year before Christmas and plan on buying wine and shipping it home in order to enter a prize draw to win a two-night stay for two at Graham’s beautiful Quinta dos Malvedos.

If you purchase wines of a total value of €500 or more and ask us to ship them anywhere in Europe or the UK, your name will be entered into the prize drawing.  At the end of the year Paul Symington will randomly pull out one name to win the trip to Malvedos.  And your chances are good:  so far we only have ten names in the drawing.  MUCH better chances than the Lottery!

So… with a budget of €500 or a bit more, what can you send home? Raul and I did a little dream shopping, and these were our recommendations:

Two 6 x 75 cl cases of Graham’s Vintage 2007 – A candidate for wine of the vintage, the 2007 Graham’s Vintage Port is complete in every way according to Jay Miller of the Wine Advocate who awarded it 97 points.

3 bottles of Quinta dos Malvedos 1965 – Dominic recently tasted this at a Malvedos vertical in Denmark, and was thrilled by how the wine was showing:  The 1965 was delicious, much more full bodied & weighty than the ’58 … I know the ’65 reasonably well, it’s a superb wine, beautifully balanced with all the elegance of a fully mature old Vintage Port and more than confirms the fact that Malvedos is superb vintage port in its own right.

3 Magnums of Graham’s Vintage 1980 – Winner of a Silver Medal at the International Wine Challenge in 2007, where the judges noted its lovely balance, calling it “very fine.” Peter Symington describes this wine as having tight penetrating aromas of wild fruits and floral hints. On the palate full-bodied, and with an excellent tannic structure.  A rich and beautifully balanced wine with a long future ahead of it.

1 Magnum of Graham´s 1970 – this is one of Charles Symington’s favourites, so much so it was his pick to serve at his wedding.  The wine is widely regarded as one of the best of the year.  Our tasting room team have commented:  On the palate this wine is in perfect harmony, round, soft yet with ‘grip’.  There is great length on the palate.

Do you prefer Tawny styles of Port?  Then your dream choice must be two bottles of the limited edition Graham’s 1961 Single Harvest Tawny.  Just 3 pipes of wine have been selected by Charles Symington to be bottled in this limited edition.  Sarah Ahmed in her Wine Detective blog described it as very much in the Graham’s house style – rich yet balanced, with terrific depth of flavour and mouthfeel.  Amber in hue with a saffron rim, it’s incredibly smooth, the spirit well integrated/balanced by lush layers of lightly toasted almonds, bourbon vanilla, singed caramel (tatin-style), fruitcake and florentines.    A very long, fruity finish shows plenty of nutty spine.   Outstanding.

Another Tawny choice would be a case (6 x 75 cl) of Graham’s 30 Year Old Tawny.  This wine has repeatedly won Gold and Silver medals at the International Wine Challenge.  Our tasting notes:  Light, orange-tinted amber colour, magnificent perfumed nose with great class showing an array of dried fruits. Outstanding mature concentrated palate with full honeyed fruit, gorgeously mellowed. Simply delicious with an aftertaste that lasts and lasts.

The Shop at Graham’s Lodge doesn’t just sell Graham’s ports though – there is a wide selection of Ports and Douro DOC wines from all the brands made by Symington Family Estates.  Here are a few choices from among those wines:

The 2007 Vintage Gift Case is a handsome wooden case containing one bottle of each Graham’s, Dow’s and Warre’s Vintage 2007, which together were awarded 291 out of a possible 300 points by the Wine Spectator.  Buy two of these cases to enter our prize draw.

1963 is a legendary Vintage and we still have a very few bottles of Warre’s 1963 available.  Send home two for your chance to visit Quinta dos Malvedos, and your drive up from Porto to Malvedos will take you past Warre’s Quinta da Cavadinha.

Charles Symington collaborates with Bruno Prats to create the incredibly elegant Chryseia Douro DOC wine which is vinified at Quinta do Roriz, just down river from Malvedos (you will be able to see it from the hill tops).  Buy a case (6 x 75 cl) of the Chryseia and a few choice bottles of Port to follow it at dinner to qualify for the prize draw.  We are able to put together mixed cases for you, if you want just a few bottles each of several different wines.

Finally, for those of you who cannot go anywhere without your Port, but need to travel light:  Raul figures purchasing 61 tins of Graham’s LBV and 10 Year Old Tawny miniatures will qualify your entrance to the prize draw.

Note that you must visit the Lodge and purchase and ship wines from there to enter the contest – we are not able to take orders by phone or internet.  We have been shipping wine regularly throughout Europe and the UK and have never had a breakage yet, though our shipments are fully insured.  Speak to Raul or any of our Lodge staff for more details about our shipping services and the full rules for the contest.

We look forward to seeing you at the Lodge and – with luck – at Quinta dos Malvedos one day too!  What’s on your shopping list?