I arrived at Quinta do Noval as managing director on the 13th October 1993. For the past twenty years I have had the pleasure and privilege of looking after this wonderful place. So we decided to host a 20th anniversary party recently at Quinta do Noval on the weekend of 13th October.
The main feature was an extensive vertical tasting of Quinta do Noval Vintage and Vintage Nacional Ports, from 1955 through to the recently declared 2011s. It was the first time we have done such a tasting and as well as being a rather emotional experience for me, gave I thought a fascinating and thoroughly enjoyable vision of the life of this great property over the past fifty years or so, as expressed in the wines that were produced during the different phases of Quinta do Noval’s history throughout this period.
We opened two bottles of each wine, and I felt that it was the least I could do to taste all of them before the tasting began.
I was thrilled by the number of distinguished journalists and sommeliers who turned up for this event. Tim Atkin was on line almost immediately with a great piece that writes more eloquently than I could about the wines:
Also Andre Ribeirinho via Instagram:
The occasion of the event was the 20th anniversary of my arrival, but as I made clear in the rather rambling speech I gave at lunch, just slightly influenced by the fact that I had tasted all of the wines at least three times that morning, it is also the 20th anniversary of my collaboration with António Agrellos, Quinta do Noval’s brilliant technical director and blender, who is of course the person principally responsible for the quality of the wines we have made together since 1994.
It also goes without saying that neither he nor I did it on our own: Quinta do Noval has a great team of dedicated people, many of whom have been with us right from the beginning, and some who have joined us since then.
It was a wonderful weekend, very relaxed and happy. Among the highlights for me were :
- Finding Jancis Robinson up and dressed and writing an article at 5 am as I came out of the kitchen with my morning pot of Assam and then drinking a cup of tea with her by the fire in Quinta do Noval’s drawing room before the rest of the world woke up;
- Running in the Douro a bit later that morning with Victoria Moore who wrote up an entirely fallacious account of the run in her blog which made me out to be some kind of heartless fitness freak;
- Caroline Furstoss decorating a director’s chair for me with a 20 years message;
- A kiss and some nice words from Ausenda, Quinta do Noval’s talented oenologist, who has been with us from the beginning, and with whom it is a daily pleasure to work;
- Maria Joao the cook at Quinta do Noval presenting me with a surprise 20th birthday cake;
- And finally a speech from António Agrellos at dinner on the final evening, in English, certainly the first time he has ever done such a thing and I guess I will have to wait for the thirtieth anniversary party before he does it again.