FOR THE LOVE OF PORT
Organic Wine Tasting
Friday 19th February
£20 before Friday 12th February
42-46 Bethel Street
Norwich NR2 1NR
This tasting is SOLD OUT. Come to the next one instead!
The Climate Coalition are inviting you to ‘show the love’ this February. Not just for the “one special person” (should you have one) but for the world we live in. For the multiplicity of factors and the narrowest of margins that make life possible, that present us with the fecundity of planet Earth.
Few things are as climatically sensitive as vitis vinifera grape vines, from which we make wine. Small variations in temperature, or changes in annual rainfall, can change the style of wines, change the varieties suited to a particular area, and even alter whether a region is suitable for wine production. Too cold, and the grapes will not ripen; too hot, and they will become jammy, indistinct. A combination of increasing temperatures and increasing drought present difficulties for many warmer climate wine regions. In ‘Wine and Climate Change’, L. J. Johnson-Bell identifies California, South Australia and Portugal’s Douro Valley as all being particularly at risk. In 2013, The Douro recorded a record midsummer high of 49°C, and experienced a particularly scorching growing season.
The Douro Valley is the world’s largest area of mountain vineyard, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Dry stonewalling was built into the slopes over 300 years ago to facilitate vine planting. These solcalcos are widely preserved today. As the slopes are steep, and the gap between terraces small, mechanisation in the vineyards is almost impossible, meaning vineyard work, including harvesting, must be carried out by hand.
The small and fragmented nature of the vineyards in the Douro make hand-harvesting a viable option. Few vineyards are over 0.5 hectares in size (the European average is 20), meaning a lot of the growers are part time. And as more people in Portugal head to the cities in search of more (and more lucrative) work, rural depopulation is another issue facing growers in the Douro.
Wines from the Douro have been imported to the UK for over 300 years. Conflict with France in the 17th century encouraged English wine merchants to trade with the Portuguese. But the dark, dry, “blackstrap” wines of Portugal were harsh, inky beverages. However, when fortified with brandy, a smooth, sweet and agreeable wine resulted – Port.
Port. You might have a (half-opened) bottle of ruby under the stairs. Perhaps you received a tawny in a Secret Santa, and were perplexed by it. Perhaps you bought a vintage years ago, and are waiting for the right Christmas to enjoy it.
But if you actually open them, you might be pleasantly surprised. They are unique beverages, sweet but not cloying, full bodied, food friendly and surprisingly versatile. They match cheeses, nuts, dried fruits and desserts. Come along for the proof.
Large brands are synonymous with Port, and consolidation of the market means that most of the well known labels are associated with two companies. Symington’s Family Estates own Graham’s, Dow’s, Warre’s and Cockburn’s, whilst Fladgate Partnership own Croft, Taylor’s and Fonseca. By contrast, we will be tasting four ports from Casal Dos Jordões, a rare independent producer of organic Port.
Join us for an unpretentious, sociable and thoroughly fortifying evening.
The evening’s menu:
All wines by Casal dos Jordões,
from Porto, Portugal, and 20% abv.
Fine Tawny, shop price £19.15
Served with homemade cashew nut & medjool date tart
Fine Ruby £17.50
Served with Calon Wen extra mature cheddar
‘Majara’ Finest Reserve £21.25
Served with Biona fresh goat’s cheese
Vintage 2011 £32.95
Served with Lye Cross organic Stilton
All foodstuffs organic, & available to buy in the Greenhouse shop. Served with organic bread.
Feedback from our recent organic wine tastings:
‘Great to meet like-minded people’
‘Educational & environmentally inspiring