The event on 17 May at Trinity House was a Vintage Port Declaration Tasting hosted by The Fladgate Partnership, Quinta do Noval and Symington Family Estates. The Port tasting was a special preview tasting of the 2016 Declared Vintage Port from these three prestigious Port companies alongside Vintage Ports from 2003 and 2007. Port brands included Cockburn’s, Croft, Dow’s, Fonseca, Graham’s, Quinta do Noval, Quinta do Noval Nacional, Quinta da Romaneira, Smith Woodhouse, Taylor’s, Quinta do Vesuvio and Warre’s. The tasting was held at Trinity House due to the association with Port’s historic connection to London and the River Thames.
In the past, ships used to carry pipes of Port from Oporto in Portugal to central London, returning with wool to Portugal on the return leg. A few doors down from Trinity House was Taylor’s original office. It was Adrian Bridge of The Fladgate Partnership who chose the venue but I had previously conducted a Port tasting at Trinity House about 20 years previously when I represented the Port Wine Institute in the UK.
The format was an informal walk-around tasting of Vintage Ports from 2016, 2007 and 2003 in the Library. It was an invitation-only event for around 150 members of the wine trade and the press. Briefings on the 2016 Port Vintage were conducted three times during the day in the Court Room to packed audiences. Adrian Bridge (The Fladgate Partnership), Paul Symington (Symington Family Estates) and Christian Seely (Quinta do Noval) were the speakers. They spoke about the importance of the latest vintage and its UK and global position in the wine industry.
Vintages are only declared three or four times in a decade and represent the pinnacle of the Port wine industry so this was a one off event, although many Port companies conduct other tastings during the year showing their full portfolios. Only 2% of all Port produced is Vintage Port. It was the first “Declaration” tasting to be held in 5 years (2011 was the last declared Vintage). It was the first time in over a decade that these three companies have conducted such a wine tasting together. They are considered to be the most prestigious companies in the wine industry.