Travel can help keep your 'Real Life' in your wine life
Back in March, I first wrote about my trip to Porto, detailing a process of sampling wines from both the Duoro and Oporto for a future organized tasting for U.S. importers looking to bring in new wines from these areas.
Returning last month to Portugal to teach a seminar reminded me that I truly believe that traveling is key to many elements of our business. no not the "boondoggle" version mistakenly held by people who think it's party-city-all-night-long. I mean the human interaction aspect of travel. In this busy, grinding, major market, profit-minded profession, we often forget that passion of the artists whom we represent.
So take a minute or a week, whenever you can, and get your taste buds back in front of the people whom we all represent: the grower of the grape and the maker of the wine. While being a sommelier is a form of artistry in its own right, the creator is at the winery. This how the museum is only as good as it's curator; in many ways, so is a wine shop or restaurant.
Back to Oporto
Most of us are familiar with Port, the beautiful fortified beverage. Most of these producers make dry non-fortified versions of the same grapes and further have vineyards north and a bit west in Minho or Vinho Verde. Here you see Portuguese version of Alvarinho - clean, bright, briny refreshing wines which are usually affordably delicious.
Now add to this bevy of grapes I did not have the pleasure of sampling before: Gouveino, Malvasia Fina, Ranigato, Viosinho, Sercial, Loureiro, Avesso, Traadura to name a few. It was as though as I arrived at an uncharted
viticultural area and was overwhelmed by it's riches. Now for those of you who have already had this experience, remember back to your moment of discovery and sharing it with the sommeliers coming up underneath you!
Here the aromas range form peach to white flower, to apple and pear (but not particularly confusable with Chardonnay). The citrus notes vary, can be sharp lemon/lime to mandarin. They share a superb minerality wrapped in ripe juicy profile that can tend toward new world in juiciness though remain loyal to their varied soils
Most of you know I prefer my oak as a tree still planted for the most part. Many of these Portuguese examples fit right in to my wheelhouse, expressing their individuality through soil striation and the use of steel; the few oak examples were well-balanced. There is literally something for every palate. And price point. The people behind these elixirs were so happy to see their labor for several generations was finally paying off.
The winemakers of the Douro are increasing their production of non-fortified because consumption of fortified wines is slowly diminishing. In their place - table wines I encountered include rich and powerful, food-friendly reds and range of whites which will absolutely surprise you! The idea that there are still well-made, interesting wines available from or lesser-known areas is at the heart of this experience.
© American Sommelier, Inc 2017