Showing posts with label Taylor's Port. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Taylor's Port. Show all posts

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Two Ports And A Tinto. A Taste of the Douro

Two Ports And A Tinto
A Taste of the Douro

Porto, on the Douro and the second biggest city in Portugal, is the home of Port. It is also known as Oporto. The long established wine-growing area is a World Heritage site and a gorgeous place to visit.

The modern style of Port can be traced back to 1678, when the Abbot of Lamego was adding brandy to the wine before it had finished fermenting. By arresting fermentation, he could retain the natural sweetness of the ultra-ripe Port-grape varieties and create a fortified wine capable of improving with age.
Read much more on the subject by wine-searchers.com here.

Taylor’s Fine White Port (Portugal), 20%, €19.99 Bradley’s

First you notice that lovely gold colour - sunset on the Douro, I wish!; and then the tears that are extra slow to clear. Then the rich aromas, mellow fruit. And it is full bodied, velvety on the palate and a great finish. Very Highly Recommended.

Taylor’s Fine White Port is a blend of wines produced from white grapes grown mainly on the upper slopes of the Douro Valley.  The grapes used include the Arinto, Boal (Semillon), Codega, Esgana Cão, Folgasão, Gouveio, Viosinho and Rabigato varieties.

The individual wines are aged in oak vats for about three years, where they acquire mellowness and character.  They are blended to produce a rich white port in the traditional smooth, full-bodied style.

Taylor’s pioneered dry white aperitif port more than 60 years ago under the Chip Dry label, first blended in 1934. That was the one I had intended to buy in Bradley’s but decided to try this, a much sweeter version.

You can drink it in the traditional way, chilled on its own, or with a twist of lemon, accompanied by roasted almonds, olives or dry biscuits. My favourite pairing though is with Barrie Tyner’s Cognac infused chicken liver paté (try catching him at the Mahon and Midleton markets). You’ll have a great laugh and a great paté. And now a great match!

Casal dos Jordoes Finest Reserve Port (Portugal), 20%, €17.20 (375ml) Mary Pawle Wines



Warm, sweet (not cloying) and spicy, this is your classic Port offering, tradition with high quality from organic grapes. Masses of fruit, excellent concentration from this Port which features the Touriga Francesca grape. Delicious on its own before and after meals and the importer’s tip is to try it with chocolate desserts! Highly Recommended




Casal dos Jordoes Quinta da Esteveira Douro Reserva Tinto 2011 (Portugal), 13.5%, €15.20 Mary Pawle Wines
Made from organic grapes (including Touriga Nacional and Touriga Franca), the human touch is all important here. The grapes are harvested by hand and are then crushed “by feet of man”, part of a system “utilised by the Romans”, a tried and tested method that increases colour and tannin extraction.

That colour is a deep red and the tears are slow to clear. Aromas are of dark fruit, good and strong. Fruit, spice and acidity combine in quite an engaging mouthful and there is an excellent finish too. Made by the same vineyard that produces the port (above), this is Highly Recommended.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Port, Sherry, Madeira. All treasures. Each superb in its own right.

Port, Sherry, Madeira. All treasures. Each superb in its own right.
The Fortified Wines Event at Ballymaloe LitFest.

Mightn't look like it but they are singing from the same hymn sheet!
Raymond Blake (left) and Tom Doorley in the Tractor Shed

Wine writer Raymond Blake, a convert in the cathedrals of Jerez, led the Fortified Wine Choir that  Ballymaloe Colm McCan assembled for Sunday’s event in the Drinks Theatre. Blake urged us all to join the crusade and keep these “legacy wines” in a strong position, warning that if they are lost, they will never again appear, as the unique circumstances that gave rise to their creation will never be repeated. “These are treasures”, Raymond preached. “And each is superb in its own right.”

The treasures for tasting in the converted Tractor Shed included two white wines, an En Rama Fino by Gonzalez Byass and a Dry White Port from Taylor’s. Later came the two reds: the Madeira and a Taylor’s Tawny. The other members of the choir were Leslie Williams, Chris Forbes, Tom Doorley and John Wilson and they all sang from the same hymn sheet urging us, among other things, to serve these fortifieds in a wine glass, underlining that these are real wines.

“En Rama is becoming popular,” said Raymond. “But it is a bit untamed, Fino with knobs on.” Tom Doorley then revealed that his big love is Sherry. “It is great value. I also love the huge range of styles and love the austerity of dry sherry."

John Wilson said these are  the “most man-made” wine of all. “They require so much intervention. They are incredible, precise, with complex flavours - savour slowly. My personal measure of Fino is a bottle - great with tapas, Iberico ham, almonds, Manchego cheese.”
The panel in the tractor shed
Leslie Williams said En Rama is sherry in the raw, unfiltered and he sometimes matches it with Fish and Chips! Chris Forbes, for a Port man, was generous: “Sherry is one of the wonderful wines, amazing value. Great poured into soup, a use also for White Port. Both are made with indigenous grapes. They are really wines.”  


He said Taylors make two of the three styles of White Port, a dry and an extra dry. Five or six varieties of grapes are used and suggested chilling it as an aperitif and serving with tonic and ice.

Raymond loves his Madeira,such a pure wine, "even the sweetest has acidity through it" and it can be measured in centuries, the intensity of it, great flavour, super stuff. Leslie too adores it and says the opened bottle may be kept for quite a while (not not as long as his mother kept the Bristol Cream!). John Wilson is another convert. Of the Barbeito that we were sampling, he purred: “This is so good, it almost hurts, a classic Madeira."
The Fortifieds

Now we were on to the 10 Year Old Tawny by Taylor’s. John Wilson suggested that this was perhaps the future of Port and was bringing people back to the drink. Chris agreed saying Tawny is the current hero. “There has been a 72% growth in the last ten years, absolutely phenomenal. Importantly, at 25 euro, it is affordable.
He suggested serving it slightly chilled and acknowledged a suggestion that it was great with cheese. “But not just with cheese. Try tarte tatins, pour it over vanilla ice-cream. Once opened, it should last for no more than two or three hours, but it will keep for four to six weeks!”

Chris, who was quite busy over the weekend, rounded off this informal and informative event with a great description of the foot treading (bunions and boils and all), a practice that is still current in Taylor’s. They feel it does the job better, is easier on the grapes. Mechanical methods, for instance, can break the pip and release unwanted elements, the human foot does not break the pip.

So now we've come from the cathedrals of the bodegas to the down to earth practices of the lagaar. Fascinating stories behind all of these fortified wines brought to us by a terrific panel and also via the four superb examples in our glasses. Here’s to the winemakers of the past and the pleasures of the present, and hopefully, if enough of you join the crusade, of the future. Sláinte.

Chris Forbes (Taylor's Port) and, right,
Leslie Williams (Irish Examiner)


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

All About Farmers at Ballymaloe, Port. Cheese, Chocolate.

All About Farmers at Ballymaloe

Port. Cheese, Chocolate.
It was all about farmers at Ballymaloe last Thursday evening, appropriately enough in the week that the East Cork food destination celebrated the 90th birthday of Myrtle Allen.  Myrtle turned her front room into a restaurant fifty years ago and the rest is food history, still evolving. And Ballymaloe is still a farm, of course.

Thursday was also about Port, cheese and chocolate. The only real farmer on stage was Dan Hegarty whose family in Whitechurch make the well known and well loved cheddar. Chris Forbes from Taylor’s Port told us of the many small holders on the steep slopes of the Douro while Shana Wilkie of Wilkie’s Chocolate, Ireland's only bean to bar chocolate maker, told us of the small Peruvian farms from where she gets her beans.

It is mountainy in the Douro and very hot. There are some 35,000 tiny holdings, according to Chris, but Taylor’s buy grapes from less than 100. Taylor’s also grow their own - their Quinta de Vargellas is one of the best known in the world - and the port is made from a variety of indigenous grapes.

Port is a fortified wine. Fermentation is stopped after 2 or 3 days by adding 77% proof alcohol. That arrests the fermentation and maintains the high sugar level. Some hard work before all that though. The pickers start early, stop for lunch and wine, start again and stop in early evening for more food and more wine.
But they are not finished. They then start the traditional foot-treading in the lagar, two hours of tough going, squeezing out the juice and the colour. All Taylor’s vintage ports are made using traditional methods, including foot-threading.

We started the tasting with a 2008 LBV (Late Bottled Vintage). LBV was created in the 1970’s by Taylor’s, all the grapes coming from the one year and it spends 4 to 6 years in large wooden vats. Taylor’s are the world leaders in this style and, as we saw, it goes very well indeed with both cheese and chocolate (the Amazonas). By the way, if you open a bottle, Chris advised to finish within 3 to 4 weeks, as it loses its freshness after that.

Dan Hegarty was  very impressed with the Port and said he was thinking of giving up his favourite lager. Indeed, there is no shortage of good humour as Dan took us through the family’s relatively short history of making cheddar.
Shana and her relationship with the farmers
They started in 2000, using the traditional methods, and sell their products at different ages. They “went mad” early on, going flat out with production but now they are more restrained and there are only marginal increases from year to year. It is a two year cycle and they milk about 100 cows. On Thursday, we tasted three ages: 6 months, 12 months and 18. The older was the more popular though, according to Dan, his bank manager would prefer if the youngest was in top position!

Fonseca Quinta do Panascal Vintage Port 1998, the produce of just one vineyard, was next up, “an affordable way to drink vintage Port.” It is now 14 years in bottle with opulence, spiciness and red currant flavours. It proved an excellent match with Wilkie’s Amazonas with Cocoa Nibs and also with the 6 month old cheddar. And a word of advice from Chris: “On opening, decant, and drink that evening!”

Shana too had a few tips for recognising good chocolate. “Shiny chocolate is normally good, dull is not so good. A sharp snap is also a good sign.” Shana is originally a graphic designer “by trade" but always had a great interest in food.

She went on to tell how she got into chocolate making and got familiar with the different beans and flavours and was drawn to the Criollo flavour bean. She now works with a few families in Peru. At home, and home now is Midleton as she has returned to the East Cork, she is always experimenting, always getting better and indeed she already has some impressive awards to her name. 
Her Tumbes chocolate was an excellent match with the 10 Year Old Tawny. This port has spent ten years in small wooden casks, no new wood used. It is lighter in colour with mellow notes and little spice. Chris described it as a “liquid fruit cake”. Went well with the chocolate and also the 18 month cheddar. Great too with pates and terrines, according to Chris. “The style is fresh and clean and it is easy drinking.”

Chris surprised some by suggesting that these Tawines (we finished with the exquisite 20 Year Old, even lighter in colour and with a toastier aroma) be served slightly chilled and also suggested serving them in summer as well as the more traditional winter usage.

The three gathered on stage for a deserved round of applause and there was thanks too for Peter Corr of Febvre who assisted throughout the evening and for Ballymaloe’s Colm McCann and his team.
Left to right: Chris Forbes, Peter Corr, Shana Wilkie, Dan Hegarty and Yours Truly.




Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Port and Cheddar (and now Chocolate!) at Ballymaloe

Port and Cheddar (and now Chocolate!) at Ballymaloe
Taylor's, a major name in Port.

Chris Forbes from Taylors Port, Oporto, and Dan Hegarty, Hegarty's Cheddar, Cork, are all set for a Port and Cheddar talk and tasting in The Grainstore at Ballymaloe, on Thursday 13th March, 7pm. €15.00.
Ports to be tasted are Taylor’s LBV, Taylor’s 10 & 20 Year Old and a Fonseca Panascal 1998.

Now it will be Port, Cheddar and Chocolate at Ballymaloe. Just got confirmation that Niall Daly from the Chocolate Shop in the English Market will be on the stage as well!


Ballymaloe House
Shanagarry,
Co. Cork
Tel: 021 4652531

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Taste of the Week

Taste of the Week
Crozier Blue Cheese
Cashel Blue may be better known, but Crozier Blue (left in picture), that beautiful creamy cheese made from the milk of sheep that graze under the Rock of Cashel, is up there now with its more established cousin (made with cow's milk) and a firm favourite in our house. Enjoyed it most recently at a marvellous tasting in the Food Emporium in Brown Thomas (Cork) where Colm McCan and the Ballymaloe Pop-Up Wine Shop brought the Grubb family, who make both cheeses, and Taylor's Port (represented by Chris Forbes) together. Not just a Taste of the Week. More like the Tasting of the Year. Brilliant. 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Amuse Bouche

Taylor's Late Bottled Vintage was launched in 1970 with the 1965 vintage. Not everyone welcomed this innovation. One unnamed source predicted that 'it will kill the Port trade, but it will kill Taylor's first'. In fact the contrary proved to be the case. LBV was a resounding success and gradually other Port houses launched their own versions. 


From Taylor’s, The Story of a Classic Port House.

(Chris Forbes of Taylor's, who did much work on this book, is in Cork City tomorrow evening. The Port tasting is in Brown Thomas at 6.00pm and Sarah Grubb of Cashel Blue will also be there with both Cashel and Crozier. That should make for an interetesing taste event!)

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Taylor's Port and Cashel Blue at BT Friday

Taylor's Port and Cashel Blue at BT Friday
 Friday 15th November, 6pm
Cashel, before the blue.
Ballymaloe's Colm McCan has been in touch about Friday's tempting "match-up" in the Food Emporium (Brown Thomas) between Taylor's Port and Cashel Blue Cheese.

"Established over three centuries ago in 1692, Taylor’s is one of the oldest of the founding Port houses and will be represented by Chris Forbes. We will also be joined by Sarah Furno from Cashel Blue Cheese and Crozier Blue Cheese, in Co. Tipperary, so an evening to look forward to, with Taylor's Port and Cashel Blue.
Here too, we have a selection of wines from our award winning wine list and wine cellar here at Ballymaloe. Open seven days a week, we have a great selection of wines and gift ideas, and we will also be holding wine tastings and welcoming visiting winemakers."


Some well priced good wines
Thought I might share the details on some decent well priced wines that I've come across recently.

In Cafe Gusto last weekend, I was reminded of the merits of Beso de Vino range imported by Wine Alliance and widely available. They are the house wines in Gusto. The white is a Macabeo and the red is a blend of Syrah and Garnacha, and both come from the Carinena region of Spain. Just checked on Bradley's Off Licence website where they are available for €10.99 a bottle.

Earlier, I had picked up an award winning white in Karwig Wines (Carrigaline). The Claude Val Vendages 2012, an IGP by Paul Mas from the Aude Valley in the Languedoc, is a blend of no less than six grapes: Grenache Blanc, Chenin, Mauzac, Chasan, Vermentino and Sauvignon Blanc. Didn't quite know what to expect when I parted with my €11.25 but it is a beauty: fruity, fresh and well balanced and a smooth, almost oily, mouthfeel. Quite a good wine at a decent price.


Hayfield Festive Wine Event
"Join us on December 5th for our Festive Wine Society evening, delight in an evening of superior wines and exceptional cuisine. Our guest speaker is Richard McMahon from Erne Wines and he will be presenting Spanish wines which they supply exclusively from the Baron de Ley winery. 

Begin your evening with a sparkling wine reception,this shall be followed by a 5 course menu, exclusively designed by Executive Head Chef Graeme Campbell, to complement the 5 wines showcased."

Tickets are €79 per person. To Book: Please call us on +353214845941 or email events@hayfieldmanor.ie



Sunday, November 10, 2013

Super Saturday. Castlemary Farm. Midleton Farmers Market. The Food Emporium.

Super Saturday

Castlemary Farm. Midleton Farmers Market. The Food Emporium.

Olive and one of her goats.
This super Saturday started with a visit to Castlemary Farm. Great to meet up with the hard-working Olive Hallahan and her goats (who have a very comfortable life, especially Dan the Man!). Olive’s small shop on the farm opens every Saturday morning and today, for the first time, she had her Smoked Goats Cheddar on sale.


Frank Hederman did the smoking here so that cheese was top of our list but we also got a  few other bits and pieces including a Goat Cheese Fruit Yoghurt and a lovely brown loaf made with goat buttermilk! She also sells produce by the neighbours, including honey and eggs. The smoked cheese, by the way, tastes like a success, the smoking very finely judged indeed.
Olive meets another Billy

You may also buy Castlemary products at the regular Friday Country Market in Midleton and at the nearby shop recently opened by Helen Aherne. Olive tells me that Helen is a talented baker and her cakes also feature in the Midleton shop.

From Castlemary, I made my way to Midleton and to the regular Saturday morning Farmers Market. We were still reasonably early but O’Driscoll’s of Schull were rapidly running out of fish. Still we managed to get some fresh cod. Mushrooms from Irish Shiitake, Smoked Mackerel from the aforementioned Mr Hederman, and a lovely sweet Almond Brioche ring from Arbutus Bread were among the other products to find a way into the sturdy shopping bag. Lots of choices for lunch and later!
Gurnard
The sunshine was giving way to rain as I headed downtown in the afternoon to the Food Emporium at Brown Thomas. Lovely to meet Darina Allen who was signing copies of her most recent book, 30 Years at Ballymaloe (with over 100 new recipes), and to renew acquaintance also with Anthony Cresswell of Ummera Smoked Products who had samples of his brilliant produce for tasting.

Ballymaloe have a pop-up wine shop here and some of their wines were open for tasting with Peter Corr of Febvre Wines doing the honours and opening some terrific wines including a Vacheron Sancerre, a lovely pure white wine, mineral rich and zesty, produced by biodynamic farming.

That was good but the star of the show was undoubtedly the 2008 Raveneau Chablis. It was a rare pleasure to sample this Classic Chablis 1er Cru from Reveneau’s Butteaux vineyard.




The tastings here are of a very high standard indeed and that will continue next Friday evening at 6.00pm when Chris Forbes of Taylor's Port, one of the oldest of the founding Port houses, and Sarah Furno, of the magnificent Cashel Blue and Croizier Blue Cheeses, are the distinguished visitors. Should be a lovely evening.
Darina Allen, Ursula Bosman (Brown Thomas) and Yours Truly at the
Food Emporium.