The vista from the metro as it crosses the Douro river from the centre of Porto is eye-watering; a delicately balanced civilisation, perched along the impressive topography of the great valley. It’s summery hot and I am carrying a heavy bag with a camera, laptop, etcetera. Beads of sweat are gathering to march across my brow, and at the mere sight of the steep incline around the corner, they run free across my face.
First drop: Taylor’s Chip Dry White Port
These twisting heated lanes that are leading me to Taylor’s Port cellars are relentless in their conditioning of my spirit for the pleasure to come. I arrive sweating profusely, to be met by Fladgate Partnership CEO, Adrian Bridge, so that we can conduct an interview on wine and climate change. Spying my accelerating state of evaporation he suggests a glass of port. A tray appears with a bottle of Taylor’s Chip Dry White Port.
My camera is set-up, the sound is plugged in and I am pinching the glass fervently. Chilled, bright ripe fruity aromas and after a healthy sip. A wine with great body and texture, stunning flavour and, very importantly, a lovely dry finish.
The interview had commenced but I clasped my glass off camera and sipped as we went. The impression was made!
Next drop: Niepoort at the Cooperativa Artistica e Cultural (Art Cooperative)
Leaving Taylor’s, I meandered down the hill towards the Douro river and stopped to listen to the sounds of gentle music emanating from a building labelled “Art Collective”. That was enough to lure me in.
Immediately inside, the sight of the solid oak wine serving bar put the senses at ease. A row of port wines made by Niepoort gestured me to a seat. I put down my bags and surveyed the arts and crafts in the room, only to return and try the Niepoort White Port.
Again, a lovely concentration of fruit and mouth-filling texture. That signature freshness and length of impression on the palate. The young lady serving asked what I thought and I extolled my enthusiasm.
She replied by saying, “Well you should try this!” Gesturing with a bottle of the Niepoort’s 10 yr old white port.
Amber in colour, gorgeous nostril filling aromas of dry apricot, marmalade and almonds. The taste and texture exemplify richness, with a long lingering incredibly pleasing breath of almonds. So, it was here I conceded my conversion to becoming a white port aficionado.
London-bound: Sandeman and Ferreira’s awaiting
Since the revelation, I have continued the expedition of discovery back in London. We have recently finished a bottle of the Sandeman’s White Port; a delicious drop with succulent flavours of pear, apricot, a slight hint of nuttiness on the finish. Chilled nicely, this wine has all the refreshing qualities we long for in a crowd-pleasing aperitif on a sunny summers evening.
Next up will be the Ferreira Dona Antonia Reserve White Port, a wine aged in oak and blended with other white grapes to achieve the consistent house style. Failing a return to Porto very soon, I expect this bottle to perform the task of cerebral transportation.
Last note on cocktails
Most people I talk to like to drink white port with tonic and lime, loaded with ice. I found this image below on my Instagram feed taken by me enjoying a cocktail on a previous visit to Porto. That’s fine of course but henceforth, I’ll be tasting the good-stuff neat!
White ports are widely available from a number of online retailers in the UK. Here are some links for further reference:
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Artichoke pasta and very fine Pigato
Britain’s lamentable exit
On the eve of Britain’s official departure from the EU, my partner and I decided to explore a small town on the Italian Riviera where thewintry cold doesn’t feel so much like cold war bite.
I had warned my significant other that I would be having an inverse departure party, a release of the sanity valve if you like!
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Sitting inside the ancient castle walls inside the town of Soave, a short drive from Verona in northern Italy, the unique slightly almond aroma of the indigenous grape, Garganega, rises gently from my glass. The castle sprawls up the side of an extinct volcano that gives the region its variant soil structures that mark out the better quality of Soave wines.
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Tanisha Townsend decided to move to Paris 4 years ago after regularly passing through the city en route to the world’s most famous vineyards. In fact, it was about 2 years ago at the Printemps de Champagne Bouzy Rouge tasting in Reims that I saw (who we shall now refer to as) GirlMeetsGlass chirpily speaking to her web followers on Snapchat.
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Driving into the Entre-Deux-Mers region from the north, the vineyards roll out like a bright green deep-pile carpet across the undulating land. It’s hard not to be excited about tasting wines with so much heritage, as we head to Chateau-Sainte-Marie to meet with 5th generation owner, Stéphane Dupuch.
Wine tasting in northern Catalonia in the foothills of the Pyrenees
It’s been a hot couple of weeks here trekking around northern Catalonia. From the homeland and backdrop to surrealist Salvador Dali’s world to dramatic remnants of the volcano park an hour away, this place is a land of rough-hewn vistas and rustic hospitality.