The Factory House is the name of the British Port Wine shippers club, located in the Portuguese town of Oporto. There is a long tradition of holding a Wednesday lunch for members, where they come to eat, talk about the business, and share some Port.
I am in Oporto to blind-taste the newly declared 2007 vintage Ports. (My reviews will be posted early next week.) I took the opportunity to stop by the Factory House to catch up with some of the producers.
At this Wednesday lunch, there were about 40 members of the Factory House, all Port people, both retired and working. They are from the key British houses, including Taylor, Fonseca, Croft, Graham, Dow, Warre, and Churchill. In fact, all these brands are now owned by only three companies: Taylor Fladgate, Fonseca and Croft are one group and Graham, Dow and Warre are another. Churchill is alone.
Anyway, for this lunch, they brought some of their 2007 Vintage Ports. There was Fonseca, Taylor, Taylor Quinta do Vargellas Velha Vinas, Croft, Graham, Dow, Warre, Quinta do Vesuvio, Churchill, Smith Woodhouse, and Skeffington. But I'm reserving judgement until after my official blind tastings on Thursday and Friday.
We all sat around a huge table in the block-stone building drinking wine and discussing the virtues of Port. A vintage was brought out with the Stilton and Portuguese cheese. No one knew what it was. It was passed around the table to all—to the left of course, according to tradition. I guessed Croft 1960 or 1963. And most of the others went along with this. Alistair Robertson of Taylor and Fonseca thought it was 1966, but Fonseca or Taylor. The wine was revealed: Graham 1966.
The ’66 vintage Port was less tannic and powerful than I remember. It was soft, sweet and luscious, with loads of plummy jam character and slightly hot fruit. It was a true treat to drink—95 points, non-blind. If you have some, I recommend you drink it now, or soon.
“I chose the Graham 1966 for lunch today because it was made by my family, and I wanted to show that great Port is always great, even after 43 years,” said Johnny Graham, the treasurer of the Factory House and the owner of Churchill. “I think that the 2007s will age just as well. And I am sure that our children and grandchildren will enjoy the wines when they are over four decades old.”
I couldn’t hold myself back. “And what about us?” I asked.
Jeffrey Ghi — New York — April 30, 2009 2:37pm ET
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