Story and photos by Manos Angelakis
Taylor, Fladgate & Yeatman
On our last Madeira sojourn, the return flight on TAP was with a long stopover in Porto. Rather than wasting 5 hours at the airport, I thought that a visit to one of the better Port wine producers was in order. It was easy… we did not have to worry about our suitcases that were in transit to be transferred to our Newark flight. So I ordered an Uber to pick us up at the airport and take us to Taylor Fladgate, one of the oldest and most famous (since 1692) port wine producers.
The Taylor cellars are in Vila Nova de Gaia, the sister city across the river from the old city of Oporto; they house most of the company’s extensive reserves of wood aged Port as well as the offices and a visitor’s center and restaurant. The cellars are long cool, dark warehouses, with thick granite walls and high ceilings that maintain an even temperature throughout the year. Below the cellars, are tunnels that house the Vintage Ports which age in bottle, lying horizontally to keep the corks moist. Taylor’s Vintage Ports are blended from the finest wines of the firm’s own Douro Valley estates, Vargellas, Terra Feita and Junco.
The reason I wanted to visit the Taylor facilities was because the 2016 and 2017 vintages have both been “declared”; a rare event when it comes to Port wines and I was looking forward to sampling them. Usually there are three or rarely four vintages declared as classic in a decade, and, extremely rarely, two vintages are declared in a row. The 2017s are powerful, muscular – but with supple and silky tannins. The purely elegant 2016s are more opulent and intense and had an additional year to develop in cellar. I’m sure that both vintages will be remembered for years to come as they are both highly collectible and are expected to have a very long life.
Additionally, I had heard from friends that had visited Tailor a few months before that their White Port was to die for… and I wanted some of that as I have developed a preference for White Port since I’ve first encountered it a few years back at SESAB, a yearly Portuguese food and wine exhibition that takes place in Lisbon.
After walking through the barrel and vat rooms and before lunch, we tasted 7 different Ports: White, wood-aged 10- 20- and 40–year Tawny, and three vintages, including the 2016. Truly spectacular!
Nowadays Vintage Ports are far more approachable and pleasurable in their youth; you don’t have to wait 30 years to experience an exceptional bottle. Tannins are infinitely finer and the neutral spirit added is much purer and higher in quality.
Lunch was also exceptional; at Michelin-star level though Barão Fladgate, the Taylor restaurant, is not starred.
However across the street, at the The Yeatman, the wine hotel that the family that owns Taylor Fladgate also owns, Chef Ricardo Costa puts his own contemporary spin on traditional Portuguese dishes and has garnered 2 stars in the 2020 listing.
Thank you Taylor, Fladgate for a spectacular and memorable visit!
For further information please see Taylor, Fladgate
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