May 21, 2009

Let's clean up this tasting act!

I despair at the ineptitude and lack of professionalism of some of our influential wine journalists these days in tasting young Vintage Ports. Yes, assessing young Vintage Ports is not an easy job, but if you don't have the confidence in your tasting ability to do it blind then don't do it at all!

What service are you providing your unfortunate subscribers by bringing all your prejudices to the tasting bench. What credibilty can you have if you reassess your marks after seeing the name on the bottle!

Sour grapes I hear you say. Yes, I am upset by the way my wine has been rated. I am extremely proud of the Churchill 2007. It is probably the best Vintage Port we have ever produced and that includes our trophy winning 1985.

Ignorance is forgivable. Not everyone realises that a young Vintage Port blend should be as tight as a drum. It should be tannic, unyielding and not reveal very much, so beware of all those wines with the flowery adjectives.

But let's clean up this tasting act please!

May 17, 2009

The power of the Press!

I drank some memorable bottles with my friends here in Oporto when James Suckling was in town.

My old friend Paul Symington produced a Graham's 48 and a Dow's 31. At 60 years old the Graham's 1948 was still tasting amazingly young and fresh whilst the Dow's 1931 was delicate and dry.

Dirk Nieport also kindly invited me to his house for dinner and produced a decadently sweet Nieport 1955, which I guessed right! First however we had his fabulous Batuta 2001. James and Paul both thought it was French and a top line Rhone wine. I thought the terroir was familiar and said to the assembled company how I wished it could be from the Douro!

"James come back , all is forgiven, more or less!"

May 16, 2009

US sales visit

I have been away for the past two weeks launching our 2007 Vintage; one week in the US and one week in England encompassing the London Wine Trade Fair.

The US was a whistle-stop tour of 5 cities beginning in New York and finishing in San Francisco. I had good intentions of writing my blog each evening but would arrive back at my hotel late each night absolutely whacked!

Despite the job losses and the difficult financial times being experienced by many people, I found the mood in the US to be upbeat. You cannot underestimate a market of 300 million people who are regaining their national pride!

The Churchill's 2007 Vintage was showing very well and there is a razmatazz about the wine with its fresh fruit and racy tannins. It also has a density and structure which in my opinion sorts out the sheep from the goats!

You can't imagine my disappointment and amazement when I saw the rating given by James Suckling of the Wine Spectator. I don't think James accredits enough the tougher more complex wines over the intense eye-catching fruit bombs!