This weekend we were in Porto for the first Vrazon Meetup. Despite a heat wave with temperatures into the mid-30s, it was a very enjoyable weekend. Meeting up with old friends and making new ones, sharing good bottles and some excellent food.
We had two good visits. One on Saturday to Poças’ Port Wine Lodge new visitors’ centre on Rua Visconde dos Devesos 186, Vila Nova da Gaia. Then on Sunday we went up the Douro to Quevedo.
On Saturday afternoon there was a valedictory discussion over the rise, history and demise of EWBC/DWCC (European Wine Bloggers’ Conference/ Digital Wine Communicators Conference). It is clear that these conferences, which initially sailed under the colours of the European Wine Bloggers Conference, have now run its course. Put together by Robert McIntosh and Ryan and Gabriella Opaz (Catavino/Vrazon) eight successive conferences in seven different countries is a very considerable achievement. These EWBC/DWCC conferences facilitated great networking opportunities, which I think will be their most lasting legacy followed by the Born Digital Awards (www.digital-awards.eu/) with the revived version now in its second year.
If Vrazon do organize further conferences the format will be changed. They are likely to be held in one place and to feature marketing with a perspective from outside the wine industry.
Will this weekend’s meet up prove to be a one-off – a fine wake for DWCC – or will there be future get-togethers of EWBC/DWCC alumni? Certainly there is a clear wish from the weekend’s participants to meet again to talk and share wine etc. but as yet there are no definite plans.
It is unfortunate that to date the Vrazon and the #winelovers group, which grew out of contacts made at these conferences, have yet to find a way to be complementary. Hopefully in the future there will be opportunities to explore how the two groups can work together.
Friday night – BYOB at Prova
On Monday at the Mercado da Ribeira, Cais do Sodre, Lisboa we noticed that the Garrafeira Nacional had a bin-end sale of assorted bottles from the last century. Each was offered at 5.95€ and if you bought three the fourth was free. We decided that this was definitely worth a punt, especially with the BYO coming up. So it proved as we took along a 1974 from Lisbon – a ‘revolutionary wine – and a 1987 100% Baga from Bairrada. The 1987 was fine with nicely balanced fruit and acidity. Although the 1974 was initially rather stinky putting off anyone who comes to an immediate judgment on a old wine, the stink fairly rapidly declined revealing still quite concentrated prune and fig fruit. Still certainly drinkable at least in my probably not very discerning book….
1974 – a ‘revolutionary’ wine from Lisbon
Saturday daytime – Poças Port (http://www.pocas.pt/en/) is a family Port house founded in 1918. They have just opened their visitors’ centre, which is friendly, relaxed and far removed from the glitz of some of the larger Port houses. We enjoyed a short visit and then lunch with a chance to taste their wines. On a very hot day their crisp, unoaked Coroa d’Ouro 2014 Douro white hit the spot.
Saturday evening – O Gaveto (http://www.ogaveto.com/home)
What a great seafood restaurant! Hugely generous portions of a seafood – platter featuring oysters, shrimps, prawns, crabs etc. This was followed by very good Amêijoas à Bulhão Pato and then sea bass and rice. They also have a great wine list and wine service. We chose a couple of top Alvarinho Vinho Verdes from Anselmo Mendes – the stunning single vineyard Alvarinho as well as the Curtimenta Alvarinho.
Several of our group expressed surprise at the quality now available from Vinho Verde. From my experience this is not that new, it is just that the UK doesn’t always see the best.
Due to the generosity of one of the group we had a 1990 Riserva Bondi-Santi and a 2000 Emidio Pepe Montepulciano d’Abruzzo.
Sunday – into the Douro cauldron and a lovely visit to Quevedo (http://quevedoportwine.com/)
I have long wanted to visit Oscar Quevedo at his family winery in the Upper Douro in the small town of São João da Pesqueira high up above the Douro with spectacular views. Our visit was a fine introduction but I must go back for a more detailed visit. Vitor Mendes of Covela was also there, so this was a good opportunity to taste these wines again.
Well over 30˚C with swimming in Douro for some
Sunday evening – return to Prova
Recently Porto has become very popular, so finding a unreserved table for eight – all that remained of our group of just over 30 – proved to be challenge. After finding several recommended restaurants full we returned to Prova, which were able to accommodate us. Here we enjoyed a series of wines and snacks and talked further about future meet-ups.
Another fine Vinho Verde Alvarinho