A Wine Lover’s Diary, part 770: Virtually in the Douro

Tuesday, September 15th: Participated in a virtual press visit via Zoom to Taylor Fladgate in the Douro with CO Adrian Bridge as our guide. He told us that there were temperatures in the 40s during the summer and harvest, which caused a 30% drop in yield because of desiccation. This was the earliest harvest “for generations” (September 31). And because of COVID there was no traditional foot-treading in the lagars. The company installed mechanical lagars to replicate the foot-treading. The company has acquired a further 80 hectares with the purchase of two quintas. He also told us port sales are down in Portugal but up in other markets – in spite of the recession (people rewarding themselves to make themselves feel better!) But Taylor Fladgate has enough stock to cover 6 years of sales. My favourite quote from Adrian: “Port is central heating for humans.”

Wines tasted this week:

Robert Mondavi Reserve Chardonnay 2017 (Napa Valley, $61.95, Vintages #258186)
Bright, and shining pale straw in colour; minerally, lightly toasty, apple and lemon nose with oak spice and a floral top note; medium-bodied, dry, elegant, apple and peach flavours with a lovely mouth-feel and great length. (92)

Flat Rock Cellars Twisted White 2017 (Niagara Peninsula, $17.95 [$16.95 until October 11], Vintages #1578)
61% Riesling, 31% Gewurztraminer and 8% Chardonnay. Straw colour; floral, grapefruit bouquet with mineral notes; medium-bodied, off-dry, spicy, grapefruit flavour with a honeyed note. (89)

El Escocés Volante Manga del Briuo 2017 (Catalyud, Spain; $15.95, Vintages #15073)
A blend of Garnacha, Vinas Viejas, Shiraz, Tempranillo, Mazuelo. Deeply coloured; a nose of vanilla, oak spice, plum with a floral note; medium-bodied, dry, firmly structured, beautifully balanced, tangy plum flavour, lively acidity with a note of pepper on the finish; ripe tannins. Great value here.  (90)

Graffigna 150 Years Malbec 2018 (Argentina; $13.95 [$11.95 until October 11], LCBO #230474)
Deep purple-ruby colour; cedary, black fruit aromas; medium-bodied, dry, savoury, licorice and black plum flavours; nicely balanced, firmly structured with ripe tannins. (88.5)

Beronia Tempranillo Elaboración Especial 2018 (Rioja, $16.95, LCBO #426981)
Deep purple colour; lightly cedary, spicy, blackberry nose; medium-bodied, dry, blackcurrant and black plum flavours, well-balanced, firmly structured with ripe tannins and nicely integrated oak. (90)

Culmina Malbec 2016 (Okanagan Valley)
Opaque purple in colour; spicy, oaky, plum bouquet; medium to full-bodied, dry, juicy plum flavours; firmly structured with well-integrated oak and ripe tannins. (91)

Culmina Saignée 2019
A “bleed off” from Culmina’s Bordeaux varieties lots. Salmon pink in colour; a nose of redcurrants with a mineral thread; medium-bodied, dry, strawberry and redcurrant flavours with fresh acidity and a tangerine note on the finish. (90)

Henry of Pelham Riesling 2018 (Short Hill Bench, Niagara; $19.95, Vintages #557165)
Pale straw in colour; petrol, grapefruit with a honeyed note on the nose; medium-bodied, off-dry, grapefruit flavour with a crisp lemony finish. (88.5)

Henry of Pelham Cabernet-Merlot 2019 ($15.95, LCBO #504241)
Deep ruby colour; cedary, spicy, plum bouquet; medium-bodied, dry, spicy plum flavour with a firm tannic finish. Good value. (89)

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