Thursday, November 28, 2013

Kopke Port Wines Master Class at #DWCC13

The first day of the Digital Wine Communications Conference (DWCC13) was  bright and sunny and shimmered with promise. I did not see all that as I had slept in a bit to recover from the effects of the BYOB party the night before. I got to the Rioja Conference Center in Logroño after a 30-minute walk from my hotel and signed in at the reception area. As I walked into the trade-show area, outfitted with winery tasting tables and staff, I ran into Umay, whom I had met on the Haro trip and with whom I had become fast friends. He indicated that he was going into the Colheita tasting and, guess what; that's where I went also. The event was listed on the program as the Kopke Old Colheita Tasting and was scheduled between 1:30 and 2:00 in the Viura Meeting Room. This post covers that tasting but some background is necessary before getting to the glass (es).
C. N. Kopke was founded in Portugal by a German family of the same name in 1635 for the express purpose of Port wine production and, as such, it has the distinction of being the oldest company involved in that business in that country. After passing through a number of hands, the company was eventually bought in 2008 by the Sogevinus Group, a "producer and trader of prestigious and high quality Port and DOC Douro wines."
Kopke started out at Quinta de S. Luiz on the Douro River proximate to Pinhão and has grown to 125 ha (80 ha of which is dedicated to vineyards) through acquisition of surrounding properties. The vineyards boast very old vines -- some as old as 100 years -- of Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz, Tinta Cão, Tinta Barroca, and Souzão. Kopke products inlude Branco Lima, Dry White Port, Branco Seco, Colheita, Tawny, Ruby, Vintage, and Porto Resrve. The wine of interest for this exercise is the Colheita. Kopke is the global leader for single-year tawny ports with 25% of the global market.

Colheita (pronounced coal-yate-a) is a vintage-dated Tawny which has been aged for 7 years prior to bottling. The extended wood and oxygen contact yields: (i) pruney-raisiney and toasted-wood aromas; (ii) honey, caramel, and toasted-nut flavors; (iii) a certain delicacy as a result of the mellowing out of the tannic structure; and (iv) a concentration in the wine. Kopke produces an average of 1 million bottles of Colheita per year aimed primarily at the Portuguese and broader European markets. The label on this wine will generally show both the harvest and bottling dates.

The meeting was called to order by by Dayona Moreira, the Marketing Manager for Sogevinus Fine Wines.  She introduced her colleague as Carlos Alves, the Kopke Winemaker, and, after a few opening statements, she passed the baton over to him.

Carlos indicated that we would be tasting the the wines in order from youngest to oldest in order to ensure that the flavors of the younger wines would not be "hidden" by the older wines. All of the wines to be tasted were blends of equal parts Touriga Nacianal, Tinta Roriz, Touriga Franca, and Tinta Barroca. All were at 20% alcohol levels.

Kopke Porto Colheita Tawny 1983: This wine had a deep brick color and aromas that were decidedly dried fruits, milk caramel, honey, vanilla, and figs. These were buttressed by subtle hints of molasses and El Dorado Rum. On the palate dried fruits, caramel, and toffee, complementing a deliciously creamy, silky texture and over-arching freshness. A long, slightly bitter, finish.

Kopke Porto Colheita Tawny 1974: Elegant nose. Dried fruits, vanilla, chocolate, and coffee. Velvety on the palate with good acidity, structure, and finesse. Persistence on the finish.

Kopke Porto Colheita Tawny 1966: Brown in the glass, richness on the nose. Aromas of dried fruits, mocha, cinnamon, and vanilla. Plum, dried figs, coffee, toffee, and vanilla on the palate. Silky, delicate, and elegant. Fresh. Balanced.

Kopke Porto Colheita Tawny 1983: Amber color. Complex aromas of vanilla, chocolate, almonds, orange, and honey. Delicate on the palate. Persistent, elegant, and fresh. Richness along with a hint of spiciness.

Kopke 375 Special Edition Porto Colheita 1940: This wine was produced during WWII and had been resting for 73 years in a 580-liter oak barrel numbered 10053. The number 375 indicates the number of years the company has been in business as well as the number of bottles made for the special edition issue.

This wine was deserving of its packaging. It demonstrated that age is this wine's best friend. Petrol on the nose. The fruit is drier and less apparent allowing brighter freshness and more complexity to shine through. Dried fruits and walnuts. Long, delicate, harmonious finish.

From my perspective, this was an excellent beginning to the conference. I attempted to purchase the 375 on display but Dayona would have none of it. Each attendee received a small sample bottle of the 375 to take home. That was a nice gesture. I would recommend this wine. As I stated previously, I feel that the older the vintage of this wine you drink, the more appreciative of this wine you will be.

©Wine -- Mise en abyme

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