Tue 19th May - Churchill vintage masterclass e-tasting

Organise events to meet up and drink Port.
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PhilW
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Tue 19th May - Churchill vintage masterclass e-tasting

Post by PhilW » 14:04 Tue 19 May 2020

As mentioned in another thread, Churchill have their vintage port masterclass e-tasting tonight at 8pm (BST) via Instagram.

Bottles are Ch94(half), ChG05, Ch14(half), Ch14lbv(half) and ChG18 (cask sample); which I've just decanted (all except the cask sample) and can confirm that both the '14s need decanting in case anyone was wondering - some small sediment in the LBV plenty of medium sediment in the '14 VP.

If anyone fancies joining me afterwards for a post-tasting chat of what we thought etc, let me know (by reply below, email, forum PM, whatsapp, sms, whatever) and I'll send round a zoom link.

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Alex Bridgeman
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Re: Tue 19th May - Churchill vintage masterclass e-tasting

Post by Alex Bridgeman » 10:09 Wed 20 May 2020

Phil and I were the only two from TPF on the Instagram broadcast as far ass I could see. If you get the chance to watch the Instagram live broadcast today, it's worth doing so. Some interesting information about Churchill was shared.
Top Ports in 2019: Niepoort VV (1960s bottling) and Quinta do Noval Nacional 2017
Top Ports in 2020 (so far): Croft 1945 and Niepoort VV (1960s bottling)

PhilW
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Re: Tue 19th May - Churchill vintage masterclass e-tasting

Post by PhilW » 16:50 Wed 20 May 2020

This was enjoyable and interesting; Johnny and Ricardo shared interesting information, and covered a broad selection of questions.
Regarding the ports, the following were my impressions in brief:
- The current Churchills ports (at least from '05 onwards) all have quite a dry finish; this is deliberate.
- The Churchill Quinta da Gricha 2005 was my favourite wine of the tasting; I have enjoyed several 05s and think this is an under-sung vintage amongst the better-known general declarations.
- My Ch94 was sadly affected by a very bad case of bottle-stink or similar, and did not improve with air time; it was undrinkable, and had to go down the sink.
- The ChG05 was 80% opaque; not massive on the fruit but very, very fresh, with some green notes and very lovely overall with a dry finish. This was my WOTN - and the flavour profile quite closely reminded me of the Ch85 (which I enjoy), so I wonder whether Quinta da Gricha may have contributed to the blend back then? (I have no idea; another question for Johnny at some future meeting, perhaps).
- The Ch14lbv was also lovely, 90% opaque with dark red/purple rim, tasting of gentle blackberries, plenty of fruit, quite soft, quite dry finish with plenty of tannins. This is an unfiltered LBV, and Johnny mentioned that they deliberately age this for minimum time in cask (4yrs) in order to promote a softer rather than woody character for the LBV. This is a very high standard LBV in my opinion, ideal to persuade occasional port drinkers of the
- The Ch14 to me was very terse and closed, making it difficult to assess; a wine to revisit in a decade or more.
- The cask sample of ChG18 was opaque with dark purple rim (as you'd expect), full of fruit redcurrants and plums, huge tannins, and very dry style; tasty.

Overall it was a very interesting tasting, with a clear house style, and very enjoyable (ignoring my duff bottle of '94). I expect to be drinking more of the ChG05 in particular, and Ch14lbv gets added to my recommendations list.

I'm very glad that Churchill decided to run such a tasting to showcase their vintage ports.

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JacobH
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Re: Tue 19th May - Churchill vintage masterclass e-tasting

Post by JacobH » 09:24 Sun 24 May 2020

Caroline and I decided to join in, even if I am only a :tpf: member in name only!

I really enjoyed this. I had never given much thought to whether Churchill had a house style before but the presence of one was undeniable: a great deal of freshness and a certain dryness on the finish. I also had not really considered the impact of the purchase of Gricha on the wine-making: I suppose I had assumed that the property had been provided wines for Churchill before being bought which doesn’t seem to be the case.

I was intrigued by Johnny Graham’s comment about how they make the wine. He said that they ferment for longer than is normal, reaching a higher ABV, and so, consequentially, have to add less spirit during the fortification. I suppose this is an obvious way of making a drier Port but I hadn’t really though about that before. Does anyone know if it is the practice for other “drier” styles like, e.g., Dow?

I agree with Phil that the Quinta da Gricha ’05 was the best of the wines. Thankfully this was the one provided in a full bottle! I don’t think our ’94 was flawed but it was a bit disappointing and tasted a bit more faded than I would expect for that year. (I even wonder whether there was some dodgy storage of that stash of halves at some point?). I also liked the Churchill ’14: a powerful wine from a minor year and I might see if I can track some more of that down.

-Jacob
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winesecretary
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Re: Tue 19th May - Churchill vintage masterclass e-tasting

Post by winesecretary » 16:41 Sun 24 May 2020

Don't know about port but fermenting longer, reaching a higher ABV, adding less spirit, and the result being a drier wine but with more grape specificity used to be the house style of ABSL in Madeira.

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Alex Bridgeman
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Re: Tue 19th May - Churchill vintage masterclass e-tasting

Post by Alex Bridgeman » 13:20 Wed 27 May 2020

Fermenting linger and adding less spirit is the only (low intervention) way to make a drier style of Port. Dow and Churchill both make their Ports in this way, as does Quevedo.
Top Ports in 2019: Niepoort VV (1960s bottling) and Quinta do Noval Nacional 2017
Top Ports in 2020 (so far): Croft 1945 and Niepoort VV (1960s bottling)

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JacobH
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Re: Tue 19th May - Churchill vintage masterclass e-tasting

Post by JacobH » 14:00 Wed 27 May 2020

AHB wrote:
13:20 Wed 27 May 2020
Fermenting linger and adding less spirit is the only (low intervention) way to make a drier style of Port. Dow and Churchill both make their Ports in this way, as does Quevedo.
Interesting. Thanks. I’d always assumed that the dryness was implied by the other flavours rather than the sugar content (in the way that some Ports might taste more alcoholic than others, even if they are all at 20% ABV).

I’m intrigued about “high intervention” methods, though!
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Alex Bridgeman
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Re: Tue 19th May - Churchill vintage masterclass e-tasting

Post by Alex Bridgeman » 14:11 Wed 27 May 2020

High intervention only means that I’m sure if you can remove water or alcohol through reverse osmosis then there must be some industrial process to remove sugar. If there are, I don’t know about them or if anyone actually uses them.

I guess you might be able to make a drier style of Port if you pick the fruit early so there is less natural sugar and more acidity, but from what I’ve read that would give you a different and less desired set of flavours.
Top Ports in 2019: Niepoort VV (1960s bottling) and Quinta do Noval Nacional 2017
Top Ports in 2020 (so far): Croft 1945 and Niepoort VV (1960s bottling)

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JacobH
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Re: Tue 19th May - Churchill vintage masterclass e-tasting

Post by JacobH » 14:25 Wed 27 May 2020

This has made me want to investigate further. The only complete-ish set of sugar data I could find was the reviews of the 2017 Vintage Ports published by Mark Squires in the Wine Advocate in July 2019 which is then available on the Farr Vintners website.

It does not surprise me that Graham is the sweetest non-super-premium Port but I am interested that the two Crofts had the least sugar and Dow was firmly in the middle.
  • Cockburn: 107
  • Croft: 97
  • Croft QdR Serikos: 96
  • Dow: 106
  • Fonseca: 98
  • Graham: 113
  • Graham Stone Terraces: 117
  • Niepoort: 89
  • Noval: 99
  • Noval Nacional: 99
  • Taylor: 100
  • Taylor Vargellas VV: 105
  • Vesuvio: 115
  • Vesuvio Capela: 105
  • Warre: 110
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JacobH
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Re: Tue 19th May - Churchill vintage masterclass e-tasting

Post by JacobH » 14:29 Wed 27 May 2020

AHB wrote:
14:11 Wed 27 May 2020
High intervention only means that I’m sure if you can remove water or alcohol through reverse osmosis then there must be some industrial process to remove sugar. If there are, I don’t know about them or if anyone actually uses them.
Hmmm...something like the Better Juice “continuous-flow column contain[ing] immobilized non-GMO microorganisms”? Or perhaps not!!
AHB wrote:
14:11 Wed 27 May 2020
I guess you might be able to make a drier style of Port if you pick the fruit early so there is less natural sugar and more acidity, but from what I’ve read that would give you a different and less desired set of flavours.
Yes: probably a lot more bitter tannins, too since the ratio of skin / pips to juice would be completely off.
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Alex Bridgeman
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Re: Tue 19th May - Churchill vintage masterclass e-tasting

Post by Alex Bridgeman » 19:25 Wed 27 May 2020

JacobH wrote:
14:25 Wed 27 May 2020
This has made me want to investigate further. The only complete-ish set of sugar data I could find was the reviews of the 2017 Vintage Ports published by Mark Squires in the Wine Advocate in July 2019 which is then available on the Farr Vintners website.

It does not surprise me that Graham is the sweetest non-super-premium Port but I am interested that the two Crofts had the least sugar and Dow was firmly in the middle.
  • Cockburn: 107
  • Croft: 97
  • Croft QdR Serikos: 96
  • Dow: 106
  • Fonseca: 98
  • Graham: 113
  • Graham Stone Terraces: 117
  • Niepoort: 89
  • Noval: 99
  • Noval Nacional: 99
  • Taylor: 100
  • Taylor Vargellas VV: 105
  • Vesuvio: 115
  • Vesuvio Capela: 105
  • Warre: 110
That is really interesting. I would never have picked the Niepoort as being the driest of the vintage — and by some margin, too.
Top Ports in 2019: Niepoort VV (1960s bottling) and Quinta do Noval Nacional 2017
Top Ports in 2020 (so far): Croft 1945 and Niepoort VV (1960s bottling)

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JacobH
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Re: Tue 19th May - Churchill vintage masterclass e-tasting

Post by JacobH » 21:34 Wed 27 May 2020

It seems like there is quite a lot of this data around for the last three vintages, although very little before that (and for other categories like tawnies).

Forgive the screenshot: I can’t get the table function to work.
Screenshot_2020-05-27_21-27-02.png
Screenshot_2020-05-27_21-27-02.png (24.41 KiB) Viewed 3169 times
The * denotes a SQVP rather than a classic blend.

It doesn’t surprise me that Neipoort is all over the place since I get the impression that they are less bothered about house styles than, e.g., some of the Symington Brands where there numbers are so close I wonder if they have a “target”.

It does surprise me, however, that there is such a massive range: from 82 g/L for the Noval 2016 to 119 for the Neipoort Bioma VV in 2015! I don’t know whether the sensation of the sugar grows proportionately or not but that’s nearly 50% less in the Noval.

I also notice that some of my favourite shippers (e.g. Graham, Vesuvio, Niepoort Bioma etc.) are consistently the sweetest so that must be something I look out for when trying them.
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Glenn E.
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Re: Tue 19th May - Churchill vintage masterclass e-tasting

Post by Glenn E. » 21:27 Thu 28 May 2020

Don't forget that a dry house style does not necessarily mean less sugar in the Port. It can also be obtained by more acidity. Similarly a Port with less sugar can still present as sweet if it also has lower acidity.

I tasted an 80 Year Old Madeira blend that Ricardo Freitas uses as a component of the RWC Historic Series Charleston Sercial. It was very rich, but presented dry as a bone. With 300 g/l of sugar. How can that be? It was also 27 g/l of tartaric acid, which is 50% more than the legal maximum (for sales).
Glenn Elliott

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