Tasting Another Epic 2015 Vintage Port Release…

It’s vintage Port time again and while I  have already done extensive commentary on the Niepoort 2015s, there have of course been some epic declarations from both the Symingtons (Warres, Dows, Graham, Cockburn) and the Fladgate Partnership (Taylor’s and Fonseca).


An agreed vintage year normally requires a certain degree of homogeneous grape quality across the lower, middle, and upper Douro. In 2015, it’s safe to say that the the upper Douro was in a league of its own, producing some of the best Ports since 2011.


One of these wines, the Stone Terraces vineyard, which is comprised of three parcels in a narrow curving valley, all of which are immediately adjacent; one faces north, known as “Cardenhos”, whilst the other two, face each other across the Sibio brook. Most of the southerly facing Malvedos vineyard were subjected to trying conditions in 2015, and it was the Old Vine Stone Terraces portion that were shielded from excessive heat, thus producing exceptional fruit.


The schist soils on the cooler exposures ensured that the Stone Terraces Cuvee performed yet again, as it did in its maiden 2011 vintage. Fruit was picked at an ideal maturity of 13.75 baume, and trodden for four hours in the new Symington lagares at Malvedos. The wine was then fermented at low temperatures to enhance the warm climate aromatics.

The Stone Terraces 2015 has subsequently emerged as one of the very best Ports of the vintage along with Niepoort, Noval, and Vesuvio. Seek it out and buy with confidence. 

The Symingtons explaining the complicated 2015 vintage.

Graham’s The Stone Terraces Viintage Port 2015, 20% Abv., Douro

Only the second time produced, the anticipation waiting to taste this wine was intense. But this warm dry vintage in the upper Douro delivers yet again. There is a sweet opulent nose of raspberries and cream, bramble berry, strawberry confit, and mocha wood spice nuances. Beautifully rich and concentrated, this wine offers up damson plum, liquorice, salty cassis and the most seductive creamy sweet mineral tannins in a pristine, textural, harmonious package. Finely integrated acids with high quality spirit, seamless fruit concentration and a very long, lingering, pin point finish make for a very smart vintage port indeed. 

(Wine Safari Score: 97/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

The Splendour of Port ~ Tasting the New Limited Release Graham’s Six Grapes Reserve Port Special River Quintas Edition… 

Founded in 1820 by William and John Graham in Portugal’s Douro Valley, for nearly two centuries Graham’s has cultivated its reputation as one of the greatest names in Port. The quality of Graham’s Port relies on the finest grapes from their five iconic quintas in the Douro Valley: Quinta dos Malvedos, Quinta do Tua, Quinta das Lages, and two others, Quinta da Vila Velha and Quinta do Vale de Malhadas, which are privately owned by a member of the Symington family. 


Located in the heart of the Upper Douro Valley, all of these quintas enjoy the hot and dry microclimate and unique schist soil only found in this region. Together these two factors provide perfect conditions for both the growth and optimum ripening of the various Port grape varieties.


It has been over a hundred years since the famous Six Grapes motif was first used on a bottle of fine Port, and the winemakers at W & J Graham, Charles Symington and Henry Shotton, recently decided to bottle a small quantity of a special wine made exclusively from the oldest vines on Graham’s five Quintas.


The presentation of this special edition Six Grapes Old Vines Port pays homage to the original Six Grapes label that helped make the wine famous so many years ago and will only be available in very limited quantities.

Graham’s Six Grapes Reserve Port Special River Quintas Edition, 19.5 Abv.

Fabulously rich, dark opaque black plum colour, this is a wine instantaneously recognisable as a serious Port offering. Dark fruited and broody, made very much in a vintage port style but with a little more early accessibility. The nose is full of Christmas pudding, creamy creme de cassis, black plums and a complex undertone of dusty granitic minerality and dried herb nuances. The palate is tight knit, deep, dense and wonderfully fleshy and opulent, with seductive bitter black chocolate, black cherry confit, kirsch liquor, liquorice, and a black bramble berry fruit finish. Very classy and well constructed, this is a finely crafted Port from one of the greatest houses in the Douro that is structured, vibrantly fresh, but succulently fruit forward. Attractively priced at around £20 per bottle, this beautifully balanced, intense, Port delivers on so many levels. Drink now to 2030+.

(Wine Safari Score: 93/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Celebrating the 325th Anniversary of Taylor’s Port…

So honoured to be invited to the fabulous 325th anniversary celebration of Taylor’s Port at the Tower of London. It’s hard to fathom the history and the achievements of this fabulous Port house over such a lengthy period of time.


The highlight of the evening, other than chatting to Rugby World Cup 2003 winner Lawrence Dallaglio, was tasting the truly individual new anniversary Port blend that was launched tonight. Another gem in the Taylor’s armoury…

Mr Port & Madeira Richard Mayson with Lawrence Dallaglio

Taylor’s 325th Anniversary Limited Edition Tawny Port, Douro

A superbly complex nose of tarte tatin, baked apples, bruleed oranges, botanicals and cognac spice. So opulent and complex that it’s difficult to pin this wine down. Multiple exotic notes develop on the palate as you allow the wine to open up. Rich and focused, there is beautiful concentration, fabulous acids and that nutty, picante, burnt citrus and caramelised apple pie intensity with real glycerol weight and breadth. The finish is super spicy, peppery, with almond skin bitterness balanced by the sweet nutty, caramelised opulence. This is a true tribute to a complex Port style and a supremely premium producer.

(Wine safari Score: 95/100 Greg Sherwood MW)



Dirk Niepoort’s Spectacular Redoma Branco Reserva 2015…

Yesterday, London played host to The New Douro Tasting featuring a broad cross section of still and Port wine producers. 


Of particular interest were once again the brilliant wines of Dirk Niepoort. It just seems Dirk can do no wrong and any vinous venture he embarks on is destined for inevitable greatness. 

Sophia Bergqvist of Quinta de la Rosa with Dirk Niepoort

But a real stand out wine for me was one of his classics, the Niepoort Redoma Branco Reserva 2015, which I later discovered chatting to Dirk, is a wine he considers his best effort yet. First produced in 1995, there have been many profound versions, none more so than the 1999 vintage, of which I drank my last treasured bottle of around two years ago.

The Redoma Reserva is made with grapes from ancient 80 years old vines, planted at an altitude of 600 metres in mica schist soils. Since its creation in 1995, the main aim of producing this wine has been to express the character of the Douro old vineyards. 

At the end of the ageing period, the best barrels are selected, considering their minerality, complexity and ageing potential and not necessarily those with the most expressive aromas.

Tasting Note: The 2015 Redoma Branco Reserva is monumental. It’s loaded with dusty granitic sweet mineral lemon pastille fruits with a solid undertone of wet chalk, pithy green apples, honey dew melon and crunchy tart white peaches. The acids are beguiling, adding freshness, electric vibrancy and a real frame over which the intense fruit concentration is majestically draped. The full, textured palate finishes long and broad with a beautifully complexity of green caramelised figs and yellow citrus. This really is a sterling effort and certainly one for the cellar. Yet another super Dirk Niepoort triumph. (Wine Safari Score: 95+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)