Portvinsmessen – The annual portwine event in Roskilde

On March 4 we were participating in the annual event in Roskilde, Denmark, called ‘Portvinsmessen’ (The port wine fair). As usual many Danish importers were represented and several of them were backed up by representatives from the port producers.

Both tasting periods of the event were sold out and it is apparent that Denmark continues being a big market for quality port. Focus was on quality ports like Tawny with age, Colheitas and Vintage Ports. As usual our focus was on the Vintage Ports and we provide tasting notes for all of them here on the site.

We were especially impressed by some of the more mature Vintage Ports available, like the range of Warre’s Vintages with 1980, 1985 and 2000 also accompanied by their single quinta Cavadinha from 1998 and 2001. All provided by Kjaer Sommerfeldt.

We also of course liked the Taylor Vintages from 1997, 2003, 2007 and 2009. All very impressive, and best of them was the 2007. These are available from Portvinsyd.

Last but not least, the brothers from Vintageportvin.dk, showed there wide range of mature quality Vintage Ports. This year they had extended there offering with a range of Romaneira Vintages and also with Sandeman. From Sandeman we could try some of the Vau Vintages, from the very first, 1988 (the only one called Quinta da Vau) to 1997 and 1999. Best of the Sandeman Vintages was the astonishing Vintage 1970 which is a fantastic port wine showing what this producer is capable of when it makes it best. For us, this was the best Vintage Port of the day.

We also tasted a fantastic old Colheita-blend  simply called Porto 201, a blend of 1843, 1870 and 1888 (43+70+88=201) from Maynard, very kindly offered to us by Alvaro van Zeller.


On February 16 the Wine Society of 18% in Malmö, Sweden, had a very interesting tasting of Carcavelos, the forgotten fortified wine from Portugal.


Just west of Lisbon along the coast lies the small municipality of Carcavelos. This has been a place for wine growing since the roman times, and in the mid 18th century the wines from the region had a worldwide reputation. Marquis de Pombal had a Palace and wine estate here, and built a reputation for Carcavelos. Before the demarcation of Douro in 1756 he even sold grapes from Carcavelos to Port producers. During the 19th century the fortified wines were very popular, especially in the British market and in 1908 the region was officially demarcated and it still is classified as D.O.C (Denominação de Origem Controlada).

The 20th century turned out to be devastating for Carcavelos wines and its vineyards. As Lisbon grew and new hotels near the coast were built, more and more vineyards were sold in the real estate business. In the early 1980s there were only ten hectares of vines left.

The Ministry of Agriculture owned what was remaining of Pombal’s vineyards in the 1980s and they realized they had to do something to save what was left of Carcavelos traditions. Between 2002 and 2009 they doubled remains of the old Pombal vineyard to 12.5 hectares. Since 2004 the vineyard is owned by the municipality and a new brand was created, called Villa Oeiras.

Carcavelos wine is made from up to nine different grapes, both white and red. The most important of the white grapes are Galego Dourado, Ratinho and Arinto. The most important red grapes are Castelão and Preto. The wine is fermented completely dry and then alcohol (wine brandy) is added to bring the wine up to about 18-20% alcohol. A small part of the wine must containing residual sugar, called vinho abafado, is set aside before fortifying the wine and is then added to get a sweet wine.

The wine is then aged in barrels and receives a light Tawny like color. The style is very unique but it is somewhat similar to White Ports or some Madeiras.


In the tasting in Malmö we had 9 Carcavelos and 3 other more well-known wines for reference. Note that the tasting was conducted completely blind, meaning we did not know it was Carcavelos we tasted. The points are always affected to be more moderate in blind tastings, especially when the style of the wine is completely unique and un-common to what we are used to. This is what we tasted (in this order), with the average points from the group.

  1. Niepoort 10 years old White Port. Points 14.30
  2. Villa Oeiras, Carcavelos. The wine has been aged for at least 10 years on oak and chestnut barrels. Grapes used were Arinto, Galego Dourado and Ratinho. Points 14.40
  3. Conde de Oeiras, Meio doce, Carcavelos. A non-vintage blend of 1995-2007, bottled in 2009 from Villa Oeiras. Points 14.60
  4. M. Borges Bual 15 years, Madeira. Points 15.00
  5. Quinta de Ribeira de Caparide 1995, Carcavelos. Only available vintage found from this producer, owned by the bishop of Lisbon. Unclear if it is still in production. Points 13.40
  6. Casa Manuel Boullosa, Quinta dos Pesos 1991, Carcavelos. During some years this was the only producer of Carcavelos. No later vintages available, probably out of production today. Points 15.40
  7. Casa Manuel Boullosa, Quinta dos Pesos 1989, Carcavelos. See above. Points 14.80
  8. Alambre Moscatel de Setubal 1996, José Maria da Fonseca. Points 15.65
  9. Quinta do Barao 15 years, Carcavelos. Marquis de Pombal’s old vineyard now being revived as Villa Oeiras. Points 14.90
  10. Quinta do Barao +30 years, Carcavelos. See above. Points 15.10

    Wine number 11, Quinta da Bela Vista

    Back label of wine 11, Quinta da Bela Vista

  11. Quinta da Bela Vista, Carcavelos. Went out of business already 1969. The remaining barrels were bottled as a blend in 1991 and the average age is assumed to be about 40 years. Galego Dourado most important grape. Points 15.30
  12. Quinta da Bela Vista Antigo, Carcavelos. Bottle from the cellar of Bela Vista, i.e. bottled before 1969 but with unknown age. Points 15.85

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Another year has passed by and we have tasted a lot of fantastic Vintage Ports during this last year. We now have tasting notes for more than 1,500 different Vintage Ports.

We also reached the milestone of 150,000 visitors to our web site since we started it five years ago. Thank you all for visiting our site and thank you all for the kind words we here from you.

Warres1958Among the all the tastings we had during this last year there are now some new added to our section of Great Tastings. We have had tasting on both Vintage 1988 and Vintage 1958, and we also have a report from the fantastic vertical on Calem, arranged by Axel Probst, that we participated in. So please enjoy reading about these tastings.

We hope that 2017 will bring many more fantastic tastings and events. See you all next year!


Copenhagen Port Wine Festival 2016


Dominic Symington and Gustavo Devesas

The annual port wine festival in Copenhagen, arranged by Henrik Oldenburg, was this year visited by well-known Dominic Symington from the Symington Family Estates. Dominic arranged, with help from Gustavo Devesas (Market Manager at the Symingtons) a tasting to show that the terroir and micro climate of the quintas in the Douro valley are very different. By tasting six of the Symington Single Quintas we could all see the difference between Quinta da Cavadinha, Quinta do Bomfim, Quinta dos Malvedos, Quinta dos Canais, Quinta da Senhora da Ribeira and Quinta do Vesuvio. To understand the differences better we tasted all of these quintas from both 2001 and 2010 to also see the maturation aspect of the different terroirs. Dominic talked about the work the Symingtons are doing to improve the quality in all of the quintas using modern technology combined with their long experience. The harvest can for instance be done in a more optimal way by investigating how strong the vines are throughout the quinta and then harvest different parts of the quintas at different days for perfect grapes.

festival2016_2In the open tasting we could as usual taste quite a lot of interesting Vintage Ports. There were several mature Vintage Ports from some of the importers. We were as usual impressed by the range of mature Vintage Ports from Vintageportvin.dk, and we could taste a lot of mature Vintage Ports from the Symington houses Smith Woodhouse and Gould Campbell from the vintages 1977, 1980, 1985 and 2000 and also Quarles Harris from 1977. From these the 1977, 1980 and 1985 are really impressive and peaking today and the 2000 is also nice today but it is a perfect investment for the cellar. We could also taste Warre’s Vintage Port from both 1980 and 2000 at the Kjaer Sommerfeldt table, both really good.

We would like to thank Henrk Oldenburg, Dominic Symington, Gustavo Devesas and all Danish importers for an enjoyable festival and hope to see you all again soon.

Henrik Oldenburg’s new port wine book

PortvinBook2016The port wine festival in Copenhagen is coming up, and so is the new port wine book from Henrik Oldenburg, the organizer of the festival. The book is the 4th edition of “Portvin” (port wine in danish) and it will be released at the port wine festival on November 7. It is said to be the biggest book in the world about port wine. The book will have 520 pages and include information about more than 100 port producers.

Check out more info on Forlaget Smag webpage.

Philipson Wine tasting

In Philipson Wine’s tasting according to their 25 th birthday they had some marvelous Burgundy such as Ruchottes-Chambertin 2014 Grand Cru from Domaine Frédéric Esmonin, 2013 Clos de Vougeot Grand Cru 2013 from Domaine de la Vougeraie and Corton Grand Cru Cuvee Charlotte Dumay 2012 from Hospice du Beaune. Some Grand Cru from Chablis and of course lovely Colheita from Burmester such as 1957, 1985 and 2000.

We also enjoyed a large variety of Italian wine from Barolo, Brunello di Montalcino (with some remarkable samples from the praised 2010 Vintage) and Tuscany.

Theis Vine Bordeaux tasting at Børsen in Copenhagen

Theis Vine had, as every year, a wonderful tasting at The stock exchange (Børsen) in Copenhagen a few week ago. Even though there are no Port Wines we must say that it is a really good tasting with opportunity to try the last vintage of Bordeaux. This year the focus was on Bordeaux from 2015 which shows fantastic potential and future! Generally speaking we found lots of nice pure fruit balanced with tough tannins in the wines. We recommend all of you with a wine cellar to invest in many cases of the 2015 for the future. We also tasted some Bordeaux’s from earlier vintages. Among the best were the excellent 2010s from Petit Village and Chateau Pichon Longueville – Baron. We also liked Chateau Leoville Barton and Leoville Poyferre from 2012.

In addition to top quality Bordeaux wines the tasting has the last few years expanded to include some Burgundy wines, Champagnes from Billecart-Salmon and other high quality wines. This year Billecart-Salmon had six vintage champagnes for tasting, among these the fantastic Le Clos Saint-Hilaire 1999. Marvelous!

If you missed the tasting this year we do recommend you to go next year.

Port Wine Day enjoyed with Taylor’s Quinta de Vargellas 1972 and 1976

We celebrated the Port Wine Day with our families with two rarely seen vintages from Quinta de Vargellas, 1972 and 1976. Both are actually very good and they are peaking now. If we have to choose one that was slightly better it would be the 1976. You can read our tasting notes here.