As unexpected as the lockdown was, so it has been that probably the most memorable drinking experiences throughout the period have come from fortified wines. In 2019 I visited Portugal 3 times and the Douro Valley twice. In February 2020, on the eve of lockdown, I was in Porto for the Essencia tasting, and despite many memorable parts to the trip, I do cherish the Port Dreams tasting as among the most special. I will write this up later as I have a backlog of port tasting notes, memories and even film footage to disassemble.
Here in Italy, I was recently handed a gift of Burmester 40yr Old Tawny Port at the table in a beachside restaurant. With eyes bulging in gratitude I retreated back home to pour a glass and found myself instantly conjuring the landscape of the Douro Valley.
Douro Valley from Quinta Do Noval 2019
The 40yr old Burmester has all of the Chesterfield leather, varnish, tobacco, and orange fruits. It is intense, honeyed, nutty rich and lip-smackingly delicious.
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Thinking for sensorial parallels, I recall tasting the Quinta Do Noval 40-Year-Old Tawny during our stay at the Quinta during the 2019 harvest. Bringing up the notes on my phone they read: 'Acetone, leather, tobacco, varnish. Volatile acidity gives it a real zing. Really clean/fresh. Pleasant aftertaste of dried fig, nuttiness, and tobacco.'
Each of the bottles were tasted on steep sides of rugged terrain, Liguria and the Douro, in warmer climates than England... and both are sensational.
An aperitif by the coliseum
As COVID-19 conspires with the grimmest of winds and rain to force a societal retreat behind our own front doors, the word ennui springs to mind. The muddle of displeasure is pierced when Natalia hands me a large bulbous glass of a liquid I do not recognise.
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!
Soave: volcanic wines with elegance and longevity
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.
An American In Paris; Tanisha Townsend (@GirlMeetsGlass) discusses podcasts, Paris wine bars, & what she's drinking at the moment
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.
Wine tasting in Galicia: The pilgrims search for Albarino
The cathedral in Santiago de Compostela, the final resting place of Saint James, rises out of the landscape, infested with antiquity. The rambling steep streets give way to shafts of dramatic light, emblazoned chapels, and tightly packed tapas bars, dusty, as old novels pressed together in antiquarian bookshops.
Interview: (Re)Defining the Entre-Deux-Mers, climate change & tasting with Stephane Dupuch
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.