We kicked off this year’s Harvest trip with a visit to Taylor’s in Vila Nova de Gaia. Two years ago we stopped by for a tour and tasting, and this time we got the chance to enjoy their restaurant: Barão Fladgate. The view from the restaurant is one of the best; overlooking the Porto skyline and Dom Luis I bridge. You couldn’t ask for a better backdrop when enjoying the wine that bears the city’s namesake, particularly when it’s a glass of Taylor’s Chip Dry white port. Chilled to perfection, this is one of our favorite aperitifs, one we are always seeking out in restaurants where ever we are. It’s perfectly crisp and dry, thanks to it’s time aging in oak and extended fermentation. It pairs beautifully with the olives that are served along side it, and although we do love a good Port & Tonic, it’s such a pleasure to enjoy on it’s own.
The food and the city are much alike: a blend of the old and the new, a modern take on traditional Portuguese dishes, all of which were presented beautifully and equally delicious. We paired our meal with Duorum Reserva 2012, Vinahs Velhas, or “Old Vines” which is always one of our absolute favorite styles for a Douro red. Packed with flavor, much like the food, it is deep and full bodied. The Alheira de Mirandela starter (pictured) is an interesting take on the classic, with greens, garlic, crispy pastry, roasted pepper cream in LBV Port wine. I enjoyed a Mushroom Risotto, which complimented the earthy flavors and mineral qualities of the Duorum wonderfully.
Our evening was all the more memorable thanks to the Vintage port we enjoyed, opened using the hot tongs method, which is always quite a show. Though this Vintage is mature, bottled almost 20 years ago, this method of opening is purely ceremonial. Vintages that have been aging in bottle for 50+ years might require this type of treatment, when it is important to leave the cork undisturbed, but it is always a pleasure to witness the process. Tongs are heated over an open flame, the neck of the bottle below the cork is clamped, the glass begins to heat and it’s only once cold water is poured over the area do you hear the pop of the glass separating in a clean break. Quite the starter pistol for our trip, signalling the kick off to our Douro 2016 Harvest tour, which we were so excited to be sharing with friends this year.
We selected the Quinta da Terra Feita 1995 Vintage port, which was such an absolute pleasure to drink. It paired perfectly with the mixed berry mousse and chocolate dessert, bringing out all of the cherry and black fruit flavors that are iconic for a younger Vintage Port. The Vintage is decanted over a candle, to separate the sediment. Though, a small amount is always found at the end of the glass, which is the sign of a true Vintage.
Quinta da Terra Feita is one of Taylor’s most famous estates, and while Quinta de Vargellas is usually the most popular one, a Terra Feita Single Quinta Vintage offers its own unique experience. These wines are more on the dark fruit end of the spectrum, with a strong tannic presence and plenty of earthiness. They tend to be slightly more vegetable on the palate as well, which is a sidestep from the usual Vintage experience, but a very welcome one. Overall it was an absolute delight.
Many thanks to all the staff at Barão Fladgate for the excellent service and delicious food and wine, as well as Carla Marques for arranging our visit. We are sure to be back again very soon!