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"Do you know the Bishop of Norwich?" (or "Pass the Port, please")

Posted: Dec 21, 2006 12:22pm ET

Next stop Portugal. Our first order of business is to get willingly lost for hours by making random fearless turns throughout Lisbon's labyrinth of narrow streets.

One of the details that stood out the first time we wandered around Lisbon was the hand-placed black-and-white cobblestone. It's so foreign to someone who has worked in L.A. for close to 17 years. The time it must have taken boggles the mind. Compared to how much money, energy and time I've spent yelling, phoning, moaning to get a simple shower tiled, it seems close to impossible. (And in the Hollywood area, the 7-11 hot dogs, the "Casting Gavels," and the Hollywood sign some kid made in shop class are the oldest forms of architecture you'll see.)

If you're in Lisbon and looking for a good dinner, there's a great little restaurant up by the St. George castle that also doubles as a circus/acrobat school: Resto do Chapito. In the summer they have trapeze performances in the courtyard while you dine. Pretty darn cool.

Eventually, after several dozen stops involving espresso and pastries, Port, pastries, cheese and Port, espresso and Port, and a little more espresso, Port, pastries and cheese, we got around to visiting our favorite little Port shop and picked up a few gems and tasted some Port.

The next morning (read "post-crack of noon," aka "rock thirty"), once the sugar coma wore off, we took a train up to Porto to visit our favorite Port houses, Burmester and Quinta do Noval. If you haven't tried the Burmester 40-year tawny, do yourself a favor. Hands down the smoothest, most complex, lingering finish of any tawny we've tried, including the revered Quinta do Noval 40-year tawny.

Those who have not yet unlocked their inner Port lover are truly missing out. The trick is moderation--which becomes increasingly difficult the more you fall in love with this potent elixir. (Refer to the obsessive behavior detailed above.) The vintage colheitas are especially seductive--I believe the minimum time in wood for them is seven years. And, although they're expensive and usually difficult to locate, nothing beats a very, very, very old Vintage Port. Of course.

Goodness me. I believe all this drooling has caused my keyboard to short out.

For photos of the trip, check out the most current entries in the journal section of my winery/vineyard website (www.caduceus.org).

Kirk R Grant
Ellsworth, ME —  December 21, 2006 4:08pm ET
With all of your travels around the world I am sure that you get plenty of recommendations¿here are a few more. If you find yourself in Japan in the near future look up ¿Suntoru Tomi no oka Winery¿ I had a bottle of their ¿Tomi no oka 2000¿ in December of 2005 and was shocked by the quality/cost ratio. I also saw that you are going to be in New Zealand after the New Year. If you have the time, think about visiting Johanneshof Cellars. Their address is S.H.1 Koromiko RD3 Blenheim Marlborough. I had their 2001 Pinot a few months ago describing it, ¿as seductive as a sweat stained satin gown on the hotel floor after prom¿. Good luck finding your hidden treasures.
William Landreth
Irving, TX —  December 21, 2006 4:17pm ET
I am with you there in spririt...instead I am in cold and rainy Wisconsin for some software training. Wish I could be there to taste at the source as I love all manners of Port. While at Noval, did you get your hands on any Nacional? Take care and see you on tour next time around.
Autumn Droste
December 21, 2006 9:08pm ET
I love You maynard. I'm in the fine wine world now, but it doesn't stop me from hinking back to those days, rocking out to your stuff when you were the man, and apparently, you still are...
Daniel Villiers
Boston, MA —  December 22, 2006 7:23am ET
Hi Maynard,I am currently on vacation in Portugal (From Boston), and driving from Lisbon to the Algarve the day after christmas, do you recommend any vineyards that are worth a visit in the Alentejo. It is my first trip to the area, but I heard the alentejo region is beutiful. Someone said kind of like santa barbara county/ojai without the mountains?? Let me know
Holly Gustafson
December 22, 2006 10:58am ET
Reading your beautiful website and your comments here, I am struck by the way your passion for wine shines through. Thank you for sharing your adventures with us all! Have a Happy New Year!
Claude Pope
Raleigh, NC —  December 22, 2006 1:19pm ET
Autumn,Thanks for your expeditious shipment of the Mouton - much appreciated. Merry Christmas to you and yours.

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