My trip to Portugal - Oporto and the Douro Valley
4 - 7 July 2004
Article and photos © copyright 2004 by Nicos Neocleous


Appendix 1 - Cockburns

1) Cockburn's Special Reserve
This young ruby has about 15% of the UK market for its category. Youthful red cherry, with plum fruit, a soft floral nuance and alcohol. The velvet mouthfeel was balanced and this is enjoyable as an everyday Port. 85/100.

2) Cockburn's 1997 Late Bottled Vintage
Dark strawberry, clear rim. Ripe plum and marzipan on the nose, a hint of white rose. Bright acid is to the fore, ripe red fruits coat the palate and leave my taste buds in a graceful fashion. 88/100.

3) Cockburn's 20 year old Tawny Port
Mostly bright amber tawny. The nose showed a nutty and orange scent. The tangy oranges mixed well with liquid walnut and hazelnuts with a good length. 91/100.

1927 Cockburn's
Only a few bottles left of the 1927 Cockburn's Vintage Port!
4) 2003 Cockburn's Touriga Nacional - cask sample
Impenetrable purple/black with a deep purple rim. The nose reminded me of schist, fresh tarmac with a depth of plum fruit and a hint of white honeysuckle. Strong acidity with ripe and tight tannins, this wine has a huge presence with check drying tannins. Destined to make an excellent vintage in 2003.

5) 2003 Cockburn's Touriga Franca - cask sample
Pitch dark with purple plum at the rim. A very white floral nose with plenty of marzipan. High acidity and a medium to full bodied texture compared to the Touriga Nacional. The tannins were ripe and dried the inside of my mouth more than the Touriga Nacional.

6) 2000 Martinez Vintage Port
A black body with a cherry rim. A 'feminine' nose of delicate white flowers and a little Christmas cake. Sweet style with strong acidity, I found waves of ripe but subtle fruit. A medium bodied mouthfeel and still youthful. 91/100.

7) 2000 Cockburn's Vintage Port
Black body with a purple rim. The nose was pure fresh tarmac, schist and liquorice. Powerful plum fruit initially, then after a second the bright acidity blasts through to shake up the palate. Long length and destined to be an excellent Port. This is closing down and gave less away to me than the bottle I tried several months earlier. 93/100.

A view from the Cockburn's lodge
A view from the Cockburn's lodge
Appendix 2 - The Symington range

1) Warre's Warrior Special Reserve
Dark cherry red with a pink rim. The nose was a heady mix of plum, alcohol and floral characteristics. A velvet mouthfeel with a ripe plum texture and a pleasant length. 84/100.

2) Dow's Trademark Finest Reserve Port
Dark red, with a pleasing mix of herbs, soft nuts and alcohol. A vibrant palate with acidity showing, powerful mid palate and a pleasing finish that lingers. 86/100.

3) Graham's Six Grapes Reserve Port
Cherry red all the way to the rim, with a soft and slightly herbal scent of raspberries. Sharp acidity kicks in the middle of warming plum fruit and the length is a tad short. 84/100.

4) Graham's 1998 LBV
Dark cherry red with a light pink rim. Drier than all of the previous Ports, slightly herbal, a little dark fruit and plain chocolate. Big mouthfeel, some drying tannins and lean plum fruit, yet with a long length. Very nice. 88/100.

5) Dow's 1998 LBV
Very dark plum rouge with a faint strawberry rim. Ripe red fruits with a hint of something medicinal on the nose. After a swirl around my taste buds, the tangy acidity intermingled with the lean fruits in a nice length. 87/100.

6) Warre's Otima 10 year old
Light tawny with traces or strawberry red. A nutty nose with a hint of marmalade. Bright acidity with pleasant sweet fruit, a level headed mid palate and a delicate nutty finish. I can see why this has been successful since release. 88/100.

7) Warre's Otima 20 year old
Pale tawny, with a recipe of walnuts, marmalade and dry flowers hinting at complexity. The 20 year old is softer and more complex than its baby sister and the nutty length is longer. Impressive. 90/100.

8) Graham's 30 Year old Tawny
Fading tawny with a slightly more weighty brown in the core. A distinctly ground hazelnut nut nose with sharp marmalade. A blend of fine herbs, citrus and tangy marmalade sensations leading to a long length. 90/100.

9) 2002 Quinta de Roriz - Vintage Port
Opaque purple black, with a heady mix of black/purple fruits and wet soil. A powerful velvet mouthfeel, balanced length and soft finish. Very enjoyable, although still a baby. 91/100.

Visitor's room
A section of the visitor's room at the Graham's lodge
Next were three Ports cask samples that would give me an insight into how different the effects of the different pressing methods could be on a Port.

10) 2003 Graham's Vintage Port - Cask sample - Traditional Lagar
Opaque purple, dark red rim. My nose sniffed wet soil and blackcurrant pastilles. A rich, sweet yet evenly keeled with a healthy dose of acidity, the tannins are just about noticeable when they lead to a hint of dryness on the finish. This certainly had me nodding my head in agreement with the quality.

11) 2003 Graham's Vintage Port - Cask sample - Paddle
Opaque purple with a cherry red rim. Plums and alcohol on the nose, with more acidity than fruit currently showing, probably at an awkward stage, good length.

12) 2003 Graham's Vintage Port - Cask sample - Robotic Lagar
Solid purple plum, the nose showed wet earth and a touch of alcohol with black plum wafting noticeably upwards towards me. Rich and sweetest of the three samples, I tasted several waves of dark fruits and settles to a very warm and long finish. Possibly destined to be the backbone of an excellent Vintage Port in the near future.

Wines and Ports drunk at lunch

a) 2002 Symington - Malvasia Fino
This barrel fermented white wine is not commercial available. Pale lemon, with bitter lime and other citrus nuances floating from the glass. Softer than the impression I was expecting from my nasal journey, a relaxed light lemon mouthfeel. A civilised way to begin lunch. 86/100.

b) 2001 Chryseia - Prats & Symington - Douro DOC
Poured straight from the bottle and the label showed 13.5% alcohol. Opaque red plums, with herbs, dry earth and dusty dark fruits. A slick and complex palate that shows its modern winemaking credentials with the plumy fruit intermingling with the slightly wild feel to it. Vibrant acidity and a long warming finish. This wine needed time to open up and had not shown its full character to us by the time the meal had drawn to a close. 90/100.

c) 2000 Quinta de Roriz - Reserva
Dark strawberry with a positive dry earth and ripe red fruits nose. The first sip did not disappoint, with a bold mouthfeel of ripe fruit held in check by noticeable acidity. Powerful presence and a long length. 91/100.

d) 1985 Dow Vintage Port
Served from a glass decanter. Medium strawberry red, with delicate dates and a hint of dry flowers. The first sip or two revealed a soft acidity still present with the semi ripe but mature date fruit warming the palate. This is becoming fully mature and was very nice. 90/100.

Rupert Symington and Nicos
Rupert Symington (left) and Nicos Neocleous
Appendix 3 - The Douro Boys tasting

A. Quinta do Vallado
Vilarinho dos Freires
5050-364 Peso da Regau, Portugal
Tel: 351 254 323147
Fax: 351 254 324326

The wines were presented to us by Francisco Ferreira.

1) 2003 Quinto do Vallado - Branco
Made from a blend of Verdelho and Muscatel. Pale yellow with soft citrus and a little honeysuckle aromas. Balanced acidity underpins the delicate lemon texture. Decent length. 85/100

2) 2001 Quinta do Vallado
A production of 90,000 bottles. Dark cherry red, with nuances of wet earth and herby dark fruits. A velvet mouthfeel, ripe drying tannins, long length that tails off very well. Drinkable now with a meaty dish or leave for a few years. 89/100.

3) 2000 Quinta do Vallado - Reserva
Almost opaque plum red, with herbs and wet earth with dark plum fruit on the nose. Vibrant acidity runs all the way through the balanced mouthfeel. Oak is well used, mouth drying yet ripe tannins. This is still a youthful wine with a long finish. 90/100.

4) 2003 Quinta do Vallado - tank sample
80% Touriga Franca, 20% Touriga Nacional, from vines approximately 15 years old. Opaque plum purple, with white flowers, wet earth and some red fruits on the nose. Nice acidity, very fruit driven with some structure at present and easy to drink. Of course, way too young to give an accurate assessment, but it was very pleasant.

5) 2003 Quinta do Vallado - tank sample: old vine cuvee
Produced from a vineyard where the average age of the wines is 60 years old. Very dark cherry red, with a few sniffs revealing an earthy depth of plum fruit. Tight structure, pleasing acidity and the ripe fruit have an admirable concentration. This wine is destined to make up the Reserva.

6) Quinta do Vallado 10 year old Tawny
Light red core with a pale brown. Delicate walnut and marmalade nuances waft from the glass. A medium bodied, silky mouthfeel, tangy citrus in between the hazelnut flavour. Long finish that is balanced and proves to be a lovely drop of Port wine. 91/100.

7) Quinta do Vallado 20 year old Tawny
Light brown body, with a more balanced nose than the 10-year-old Tawny, showing a nutty and orange marmalade with dried flowers heady nose. A tangy start, then liquid hazelnuts kick in and last for ages. A fresh and clean finish. 91/100.

Dirk Niepoort
Dirk Niepoort talks about his wines
B. Niepoort wines

We had the distinct pleasure of Dirk Niepoort presenting his wines. I had met Dirk on a couple of previous occasions and it was good to see him again. For me, Dirk has an interesting mix of enthusiasm and desire to both improve his Ports and table wines, and also try new ideas.

1) 2001 Niepoort - Vertente
Made from a blend of 40% Touriga Nacional and other grape varieties. Dark red, with a subtle blend of ripe raspberries, herbs, and light vanilla. Medium bodied with decent ripe red fruits and a pleasant acidic freshness. 86+/100.

2) 2001 Niepoort - Redoma
The vines the produced the grapes for this wine were aged between fifteen to sixty years old. A very dark strawberry with blackcurrant pastilles and dry earth nuances floating into my nose. A tannic mouthfeel of plum fruit. The length is balanced and leaves a dry and interesting length. This wine is still young, can be drunk now but ideally needs at least a year or two more to begin to show more complexity. 88/100.

3) 2001 Niepoort - Batuta
Dark red plum, with an interesting mix of flowers and earthiness. Drying tannins and black fruits make their presence known to my taste buds. The wine shows a very long length and needs several years to develop further. 91/100.

4) 2001 Niepoort - Batuta (5 days double decanted)
This wine was identical to the one above, but it was double decanted five days earlier. Dirk's aim was to try to show us a glimpse into the future of the potential of the wine. The mouthfeel is still tannic but more approachable. 91/100.

5) 2001 Niepoort - Charmes
Dirk's aim here was to make a Burgundy style wine from grapes grown in the Douro. Not an easy task! No de-stemming and the grape varieties were mainly Touriga Nacional and Touriga Franca, together with a variety of others. Dark strawberry, with an intriguing blend of white flowers and raspberry fruit. On the palate a fascinating rollercoaster ride of light red fruits, the mid palate becomes more austere with dry cherries and then settles back to a warming very long finish. This is definitely one of the most impressive Portuguese red wines I have ever tasted. 93/100.

6) 2003 Niepoort Vintage Port - tank sample
Black purple, with a strong wet earth and a bottomless depth of plum fruit. An incredibly concentrated dark plum fruit that explodes onto the palate and dances a furious tango with your taste buds then glides gracefully away into the distance. A thread of acidity underpins the whole movement and the tannins are almost unnoticeable at this stage. Although too early to make firm judgements, I was hugely impressed.

C. Quinta do Crasto

5060-063 Sabrosa, Portugal
Tel: 351 254 920 020
Fax: 351 254 920 788

Susana Esteban Ordonez
Susana Esteban Ordonez answers questions about the wines of Quinta do Crasto
We had the distinct honour of being taken through the range of wines by Susana Esteban Ordonez, the winemaker at this estate, as well as Miguel Roquette (technical director) and Tomas Roquette (sales/marketing).

1) 2001 Quinta do Crasto - Tinto
This dry red showed an alcohol level of 14% on the label. The grape varieties that made up the blend were 50% Tinto Roriz (Tempranillo), 20% Tinto Braco, 20% Souzoa and others making up the final 10%. A dark cherry red, the nose revealing a fresh, almost citrus presence with light red fruits and a hint of dry earth. Rounded, medium bodied and with a balanced length, this wine is very easy to drink now. 88/100.

2) 2001 Quinta do Crasto - Tinto Reserva
Made from old vines and comprising up to thirty different grape varieties. An opaque cherry red leads my nose to a wet earth and tarmac with dark fruits display. Rich mouthfeel, with ripe and drying tannins, strong acidity underpins the whole ride of the taste buds. A noticeable step up from the basic cuvee. 90+/100.

3) 2001 Quinta do Crasto - Touriga Nacional
Made solely from the above variety of vines approximately fifteen to twenty years old, and the label showed an alcohol level of 14.8%. Opaque red plum, with fresh fruits and spicy new oak coming out of the glass. Beautifully concentrated, long raspberry length and the balance is impeccable. 92+/100.

4) 2001 Quinta do Crasto - Vinha Maria Teresa - Vinto Tinto
This is a single vineyard field blend. Dark cherry red, with a nose of fresh ink, dark plums and a little dry earth. Compact red fruits with ripe tannins that ever so slightly dry the mouth, long length, impressive. 91/100.

5) 1998 Quinta do Crasto - LBV Port
Very dark strawberry red, with powerful smells of dark plums, alcohol and moist peat. Rounded plumy fruit, too easy to drink with a good length. Overall, this was very enjoyable. 90/100.

6) 2000 Quinta do Crasto - Vintage Port
Purple black optic. Dark plum fruit and wet earth. Tight and compact, with a long and balanced black plum length. A lovely Port with a good future ahead of it. 91+/100.

Nicos and Sandra Tavares da Silva
Nicos Neocleous (left) and Sandra Tavares da Silva
D. Quinta do Vale Dona Maria

We were lucky to have Sandra Tavares da Silva (winemaker) present the wines and answer our questions with poise and professionalism. I have previously drunk several bottles of both the 1999 and 2000 dry red wines, as well as the 2000 and 2001 Vintage Port. All of these were worthy examples at reasonable prices for the quality that was in the bottle. Here was an opportunity to try the more recent vintages. The red wine is made from a field blend containing twenty-eight different grape varieties and approximately 17,000 - 20,000 bottles are produced every year.

1) 2001 Quinta do Vale Dona Maria (red wine)
This wine spent twenty months in 70% new oak and 30% in one-year-old oak. Dark plum red, with wild herb and fresh earth nuances. A compact core of red fruits, plenty of acidity and quite good length. This should age well for a few years. 91/100.

2) 2002 Quinta do Vale Dona Maria (red wine)
Bottled one week ago, this wine spent 18 months in French oak. Dark cherry, the nose reminded me of dry cherries and wet earth. A little closed on the palate, with ripe but drying tannins and clean acidity. A decent length, though not in the league of the 2000 or 2001. 88/100.

3) 2003 Quinta do Vale Dona Maria - cask sample (red wine)
Opaque plum purple with an open nose of plum fruit and wet earth. The spicy fruit make their presence felt on the palate and this wine has a very balanced mouthfeel at this stage of its life. Could I have another glass please?

4) 2001 Quinta do Vale Dona Maria - Vintage Port
Opaque plum purple with a deep and very ripe nose of black plums. An explosion of several waves of black fruits with focused acidity and noticeably drying tannins. Nine months ago when I first tried this Port, the tannins were not so visible, so this is beginning to close down. Still excellent for the medium term. 92/100.

5) 2002 Quinta do Vale Dona Maria - Vintage Port
This cask sample is due to be bottled at the end of July 2004 and approximately 6,000 bottles will be produced. Black purple optic, with a nose of wild herbs, black currants and white flowers. Very ripe plums and an almost unbelievable attractiveness, and cloying is prevented by a focused thread of acidity. Very impressive. 92-94/100.

Francisco Olazabal
The wines were poured for us by Francisco Olazabal
E. Quinta do Vale Meao

1) 2001 Quinta do Vale Meao - Meandro
This is made from 40 percent Touriga Nacional, Tinto Roriz and others. Dark cherry red, with white flowers, wild herbs and wet earth coming forward to meet my nostrils. A fresh tasting wine with delicate red fruits, a silky length and pleasing acidity. 88/100.

2) 2000 Quinta do Vale Meao - Meandro
Opaque purple, with blackcurrant fruits and white flowers mixed with red plums. A balanced dark fruits length that is smooth and long, backed up by positive acidity. 89/100.

3) 2001 Quinta do Vale Meao - Vintage Port
Opaque purple plum, with a nose of wet earth and blackcurrant pastilles. Ripe plums and well-extracted tannins lead to a very good length. Enjoyable, to say the least. 91/100.

Appendix 4 - Quinta de S.Luiz (Barros)

1) 1999 Vilar da Galeira - Touriga Nacional - DOC Douro
Very dark red with a pale rose rim. Cherry cassis with a little wild earthy herb nose nuance. Fresh red fruits of cherry and raspberry caress the palate gently. This medium bodied wine has a fairly long soft finish. 88/100.

2) 2001 Vilar da Galeira - Touriga Nacional - DOC Douro
Opaque cherry red, with a distinctive white bush flower that thrusts itself up my nostrils, the black fruits struggling to keep up with its fleet footedness. It is very fresh on the palate, the leaner red fruits probably being overcompensated by the high acidity. Ripe tannins dry the entire palate but not in a harsh way. Drinkable now with food but I am sure that at least a couple of years of bottle age will improve it. 89/100 for the nose, 87/100 for the palate, my final numerical rating today is 88/100.

3) Barros Old Dry White Port
This contains wines that have an average age of 40 years, but it is based on a wine from 1924 that is refreshed with younger vintages. Bright amber optic with a clear rim. The nose greets me with a heady blend of marmalade, soft walnuts and a little alcohol. My first sip makes such an impression on me that I excitedly write down as much as I can before returning for a second sip. Very concentrated, with waves of focused marmalade, walnuts and a kick of acidity on the mid palate. It then settles down to a very long warming finish that goes on for ages. This is the best dry white Port I have ever tasted. 93+/100.

Cabral, Barros and Manso
From left: Pedro Pina Cabral, Manuel Angelo Barros and Jose Manuel Manso
4) Barros - 30 years old Tawny Port
Tawny body with a light brown rim. The nose showed its facets of quince and marmalade jam with a whiff and a dash of hazelnut. A powerful palate with noticeable alcohol, it manages to stay fresh but my taste buds expected to find more complexity. The finish is moderately decent. 87/100.

5) 1966 Barros - Colheita
Dark tawny with a touch of red in the body and a pale brown rim. Heady aromas of cherry and quince jam with a shaft of alcohol. Vibrant acidity that blasts the mature orange and other citrus peel nuances around the palate. A bold presence that ends with a very long finish. 92/100.

6) 1997 Barros - Vintage Porto
Poured straight from the bottle, not decanted. Opaque cherry red with a light red rim. The nose reminds me of wet earth, black fruit pastilles and a touch of wild herb. Powerful and macho palate entry with dark fruits and tight acidity. This settles down to a marginally more user-friendly drink. Still young, this could have benefited from decanting as the palate was not giving too much away. 88/100.

7) 1987 Barros - Vintage Porto
Decanted two hours before the tasting. Dark strawberry red, with a cherry cough medicine nose and moist earth. Rounded mouthfeel and entering middle age, this shows good acidity and a long warming finish. Not a generally declared vintage, this Port has now entered its drinking window. 87/100.

Appendix 5 - Quinta do Noval


1) Quinta do Noval - LB Finest Reserve
Bright red, with cherry kirsch and sweet plum aromas. Ripe plums fill the mouth with a fine thread of acidity and slightly drying tannins that make this a nice Port. 87/100.

2) 1998 Quinta do Noval - LBV
Dark red, with plenty of very ripe plums, dark fruits and a little alcohol wafting out of my glass. A mouth filling velvet liquid that is balanced and drinking so well at present. The plum fruit have the structure to age for a few years and the inside of my mouth is partially dried out by the tannins. A worthy successor to the even better 1997 LBV. 89/100.

3) Quinta do Noval - 20 year old Tawny
Tawny with a light rose optic. My nose is able to discern soft walnuts, quince and Seville orange jam with a little cinnamon. Starting elegantly, it maintains its slightly bitter orange and Brazil nut personality. The mid palate expands on this theme then tails off beautifully. A lovely experience. 92/100.

4) Quinta do Noval - 40 year old Tawny
Light orange body with an pale onionskin rim. A deep nose of Asian spices, soft hazelnuts and bitter oranges. A sip or two reveal an intriguing and balanced sensation of semi-fresh citrus, delicate orange and a soft yet light nutty texture. 91/100.

5) Quinta do Noval - 1986 Colheita
Light ruby body with a clear rim. The soft marmalade and walnut vapours make their way gently into my nose in a pleasing and relaxed fashion. The first sip wakes up my taste buds after the slumber of the smells, with a bold yet medium bodied sensation of quince and orange with a lengthy finish. A worthy Colheita. 91/100.

Quinta do Noval Nacional vineyard
The tiny vineyard that produces Quinta do Noval Nacional
6) 2000 Silval Vintage Port - Quinta do Noval
Opaque purple, with scents of very ripe plums and black fruits with dry earth. An elegant start to the palate, it takes a few seconds to change up a gear and show velvet power and plum fruit. This was surprisingly drinkable at this stage but it should begin to close down soon. 91+/100.

7) 2000 Quinta do Noval - Vintage Port
Opaque purple, with a deep nose of black plums, blackcurrants and wet schist. Initially dark fruits with a sharp jolt of acidity, this settles down to a warming plum filled ride of pure enjoyment. The tannins are less obvious than when I last tried it several months ago. A very long finish, this is an outstanding Port. 96/100.

8) 2000 Quinta do Noval Nacional - Vintage Port
It was truly an honour to be able to taste this Port and I did not take it lightly. I have seen bottles priced at levels where you could buy a case of excellent Vintage Port from the 2000 vintage. Opaque black/purple with a dark purple rim. The nose was a bold mix of liquid blackcurrants and wet schist with a medicinal hint in their somewhere. My first sip told its own story quite graphically. It takes about two seconds for this wine to totally overpower my palate. The ultra ripe yet mouth-drying tannins stamp their authority and flavours of liquid liquorice, black fruits, and an unbelievable concentration of minerals blast my grateful taste buds. This wine is already a legend and is one of the top five Ports I have ever tasted. Although it is not fair to compare it to an aged Nacional vintage, I enjoyed drinking this so much that I virtually begged Rute to allow me to take it to lunch so that we could all carry on sharing in its majestic presence. You almost need a calendar to measure the length of the finish. Drink this somewhere between 2020-2070 and if you don't own any bottles, start making friends with someone who does. 99+/100.

Lunchtime Ports

1) Quinta do Noval - 1974 Colheita
Orange tawny, with a citrus element more dominant that the faint nuttiness in the background. Orange peel, walnuts, with a soft and very long lingering length greeting my tongue, this wine was showing brilliantly from the decanter. 92+/100.

2) 1970 Quinta do Noval Nacional - Vintage Port
Served blind from a decanter, I waited until I had gone through the steps of nosing and tasting this before I simply said "Nacional". I was not sure of the vintage and after a token guess I was even more surprised. Deep strawberry red with a rim that hardly shows any colour. Fresh dates and aniseed reveal their charms as they wafted out of the glass. The palate told a very different story. A seamless concentration of dry dates, waves of spices, resolved tannins and an ultra long warming length. The youthful vibrancy of the fruit made me think it was younger than it actually was. A class act and definitely the best 1970 Vintage Port I have ever tasted. 97/100.

Appendix 6 - Quinta do Bom Retiro (Ramos Pinto)

1) 2003 Ramos Pinto - Duas Quintas
This Vinho Branco (white wine) showed a pale yellow optic. My nose sensors picked up soft butter and noticeable hints of tropical fruit. A delicate citrus mouthfeel, this would make a nice aperitif wine. 84/100.

2) 2003 Ramos Pinto - Bons Ares
The second white wine in the line-up. Light yellow with a fresh lemon and honeysuckle nose. Clean tasting with admirable acidity and a pleasant citrus feel to it. This wine clearly has more body to it than the 2003 Duas Quintas. 87/100.

3) 2001 Ramos Pinto - Duas Quintas
This Vinho Tinto (red wine) was a shade of deep strawberry, with ripe cherries and raspberries containing an earthy element. Medium bodied, bright thread of acidity and good length, this wine is nice! 88/100.

4) 2002 Ramos Pinto - Duas Quintas
Dark cherry red, with raspberry fruit and a hint of fresh tarmac on the nose. A bold presence on the palate with earthy dry red fruits, and complexity. 89/100.

5) 2000 Ramos Pinto - Duas Quintas Reserva
Opaque rouge with ripe red fruit. A rounded and medium bodied mouthfeel with ripe but drying tannins that take a few seconds to kick in. Good length and the quality of the 2000 vintage shines through. 91/100.

6) 2001 Ramos Pinto - Duas Quintas Reserva
Very dark red with cherry kirsch and a little floral nuance in the air. Ripe red fruits with an obvious tannic structure that dries out the palate. Drinkable now with food, ideally this good wine needs at least a year or two in the bottle to gain complexity and iron out its edges. 90/100.

7) 2002 Ramos Pinto - Duas Quintas Reserva
Opaque purple, ripe plum and bramble fruits. The velvet mouthfeel lasts a few seconds, then its dry and tannic structure muscle in, leading to a long finish. 90/100.

8) 2000 Ramos Pinto - Duas Quintas
Opaque purple, with attractive red fruits and a hint of dry earth. Balanced acidity that keeps the ripe red fruits clean, the long length is a positive sign for the future. 91/100.

Quinta do Bom Retiro
A view of the gardens and vineyards from the terrace at Quinta do Bom Retiro
9) Ramos Pinto - Lagrima
Medium yellow, I found ripe peach and pear aromas. Some residual sugar present, this sweet wine did have a backbone of tangy acidity. It contained 140 grams of residual sugar per litre and was impressive. 91/100.

10) Ramos Pinto - 10 year old Tawny
A dull tawny body and a light brown rim. Soft nuts on the nose, with a nice citrus/fresh hazelnut texture. 88/100.

11) Ramos Pinto - 20 year old Tawny
Light brown body, with a delicate nutty nuance floating out of the glass. Bright citrus underpins the light marmalade palate and its length is pleasing. 89/100.

12) Ramos Pinto - 30 year old Tawny
Light tawny with a touch of green at the rim. Soft marmalade and nutty hints tempt you to take a sip. I oblige and am met with a well made tangy citrus and tobacco performance lasting to a good length. Enjoyable. 90/100.

13) 1997 Ramos Pinto - LBV
Opaque red with a light strawberry red. I smelled ripe cherry and raspberry fruit. Tight red fruits with firm acidity, a little prune and a good length. 89/100.

14) 2000 Ramos Pinto - Vintage Port
Opaque purple, with deep black plum and blackcurrant caressing the inside of my nose. Ripe tannic dark fruits with a bold level of acidity throughout the charge on my taste buds. A long length with a solid fruit filled finish. 91/100.

15) 1994 Ramos Pinto - Vintage Port
Opaque cherry red with ripe bramble and dark fruits nose that lulled me into a false sense of security with their softness. A very ripe body of black fruits danced around my palate, with a huge length that was very impressive. Clearly the star of the tasting for me. 93/100.

(August 2004)

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