His patriotic shorts may have gone viral, but how did the port turn out when Peter Ranscombe helped tread the grapes?
TWO years ago this month, me and my saltire shorts stepped into a vat at Quinta do Noval in Portugal to “help” tread the grapes.
It’s a tradition that stretches back hundreds of years, with workers stomping the grapes to release their juice.
While Noval doesn’t shy away from using modern techniques too, crushing grapes by foot is still an integral part of the harvest for many port houses in the Douro valley – although maybe not this year due to physical distancing.
So, what did the port taste like after me and my feet got involved?
Well, port houses will only release vintage port – which is made using grapes from a single season, rather than a blend of harvests – during years in which the quality is judged to be high.
And Noval’s 2018 hit that mark back in April when the port vintage was “declared”.
The 2018 Quinta do Noval Vintage Port (£69.50, Soho Wine Supply) has now landed in the UK, so it’s time to put the port – and my footwork – to the test.
It’s such a baby – on the nose, it’s full of bright red cherry and raspberry aromas, with sweeter cinnamon, dark chocolate, and raspberry jam notes.
That characteristic Noval freshness comes through on the palate, with fruiter raspberry and red plum flavours, plus sweet spun sugar and caramel.
There’s a darker blackcurrant note on the finish too.
It looks like my podgy size eights didn’t do too much damage.
Everybody needs good neighbours
Over the hill, Christian Seely – managing director of Axa Millésimes, the arm of the French insurance giant that owns Noval – has his own side project called Quinta da Romaneira.
It too “declared a vintage” in 2018 because its grapes were also of a high quality.
For me, Romaneira is darker on the nose, with blackcurrant and dark chocolate aromas.
On the palate, it had more pronounced chocolate flavours, with darker damson and mulberry fruit, and a delicious twist of mint.
Keep your eye on wine merchant Lea & Sandeman’s website for availability – it imports Romaneira and is currently selling the 2008.
Minus any involvement from my toes.
Read more of Peter’s wine adventures in his drinks blog, The Grape & The Grain.