Tue 18 Nov 2014

Visiting Taylor’s Port

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Our whirlwind prize-winners’ Portugal trip started with a private tour and extensive tasting at Taylor’s Port wine cellars in the heart of the historic area of Vila Nova de Gaia.

Established over three centuries ago, in 1692, Taylor’s is one of the oldest of the founding port houses – The Society being a mere baby in comparison!

Set in beautiful gardens with views across the Douro River, Taylor’s Port lodge is in a stunning location. Although we arrived in the rain, we were soon given a very warm welcome from our host Chris Forbes, Taylor’s marketing projects manager. We started with a refreshing glass of ‘Chip Dry’, usually served as an aperitif in the Douro, ‘Chip Dry’ is a mixture of one part of white port with two parts of chilled tonic water served in a tall glass, with lemon and ice. Delicious.

The remarkable cool cellars at Taylors

The remarkable cool cellars at Taylors

Chris showed us Taylor’s long cool, dark cellars which house the casks and vats where the ports age, giving us a history of Taylor’s along the way (to read more about Taylor’s history visit their excellent website). The cellars’ thick granite walls and high ceilings keep the port casks at an even temperature, particularly important during the hot summer months but not such an issue on a rainy October afternoon!

Taylor’s wines come from their three quintas in the Douro valley, each with their own unique character: Quinta de Vargellas, Quinta de Terra Feita and Quinta do Junco.

It was clear that Taylor’s still embrace the traditional methods of making port from the hand-picking and selection of grapes in the vineyard through to foot treading the grapes in lagars (wide thigh-deep granite tanks) in the quinta.

Prior to visiting the Douro, foot treading conjured up visions of fun and frivolity. However, in reality it is a very physical, laborious process lasting between 2-3 hours. Taylor’s still see this as the best way to achieve the gentle yet complete extraction of juice and pulp from the grapes without crushing the pips that would release bitter tastes into the wine.


Foot treading at Taylor’s

Following our tour, Chris treated us to an extensive tasting of some outstanding ports. Chris explained the differences between what makes a Vintage, Crusted and Tawny port (Mark Buckenham, The Society’s port buyer gives a guide to different ports in our How To Buy Port guide).

Tasting the ports at Taylor's

Alongside tasting our very own Exhibition Crusted Port and Exhibition Tawny Port, 10 years old made for us by Taylor’s, highlights included the Fonseca Guimareans 1998 Vintage Port, Taylor’s 1985 Vintage port, Taylor’s 20-Year-Old Tawny and the fine, silky Taylor’s 1964 Single Harvest Port.

Tasting our Exhibition ports 'in situ', among others

Tasting our Exhibition ports ‘in situ’, among others

It was a wonderful start to our Douro trip. Thank you, Taylor’s!

Elizabeth Brown
Recruitment & Retention Manager

Categories : Port, Portugal

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