Calem Port: A Master Class to remember

Last evening, we were thrilled to welcome Stefano Marello to Amathus City and get introduced to the great history and the background of  Porto Cálem.

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Stefano Marello
The exquisite Calem Port range
Cálem Port

Cálem was founded in 1859 by Antonio Alves Cálem and remained in the family for four generations. Interesting fact: 1859 was also the year when Charles Darwin published “The Origin of Species”. The history of the company is strongly associated with trade in Brazil – they were selling wines in exchange of exotic food with their own fleet. The logo is reflecting the history of the brand. Nowadays, their main cellar attracts more than 150,000 visitors per year.

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The Caravel

Stefano talked about the greatness of the Douro Valley and gave us more information about the climate and the soil of Quinta de Arnozelo; the crown jewel of the company. Covering an vineyard area of 100 hectares and an excellent microclimate, it enables Calem to produce high quality port wines. He explained that the climate is Mediterranean with rain and severe snow in certain areas with temperature that can fall below -3 or -4oC. Summers are usually long and hot and temperatures can reach 40-47oC. It was very interesting to learn more about its soil, Schistose. As Stefano explained, you are not able to dig a hole with your hands and plant the vine but you actually have to break the rocks, plant the vine and reconstruct the vineyard. The soil is very poor in nutrients and doesn’t retain much water – this is excellent for high quality port production, as the plant is in hydric stress and tends to extend its roots in the ground in order to survive. The resulted grapes are small in size but highly concentrated.

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How do you fortify?

The main question on Port-making was regarding the fortification. Stefano showed us pictures of the spirit being blended with the wine and informed us that the they use an odourless, flavourless, spirit made from distilled wine with a 77% ABV. The spirit is not adding any organoleptic characteristics  to the resulting  product. Many of our guests asked why the ABV is so specific and we were told that this is the ideal value as it kills all the yeast, so any higher values wouldn’t bring additional advantages.

Interesting fact: The first Port wines were dry but the producers had to add brandy in them so the product would stay safe during its trip from Portugal to England.

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How does port age?

Stefano gave us detailed information about ageing and how the different styles of port are made. They use stainless steel vats, barrels and wooden casks. Our guests were surprised to hear that the average age of wooden vats is 62 years old in the winery, meaning that there are casks over 100 years old. The growers use to say that in that way “the new wines acquire all the experience from the previous wines”, meaning that the wood becomes an integral part of port-making without adding any flavours. We also talked about the “Angels’ Share”: Due to evaporation, a part of the production is lost every year.

The Tasting

We started the tasting with the NV White & Dry, which was very refreshing and with lemon and citrus aromas. You can enjoy it chilled as an aperitif or use it in a cocktail. Stefano highly recommends adding tonic, lemon juice and maybe some mint leafs. We tried it and it was delicious! You can enjoy it with fresh salads, light fish or pasta.

Moving on to the Fine Ruby, we all enjoyed the concentrated fruity aromas and the intensity of strawberry and cranberry notes. Very elegant and smooth. We paired it with a richly flavoured Camembert. The next one was the Cálem LBV, the most celebrated port style in the UK. It demonstrated rich cherry and blackcurrant aromas and firm, well-integrated tannins. It paired really well with milk chocolate and you can also enjoy it with strongly flavoured chesses, meat and fruits. A very popular pairing is Black Forest.

The Tawny 10 and 20 year old were the next to come; heavenly notes of nuts, caramel and toffee filled the room as we started swirling our glasses. The Colheita 1983 (aged Tawny Port made with grapes from a single vintage) gave out very concentrated hazelnut and almond notes with elegant caramel aromas. We paired them with almonds but you can also have them with caramel-based desserts, tiramisu or even foie gras and pâté. What a treat!

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20yr Tawny with almonds

The Vintage 1983 was just superb. For 30 seconds, the room got a bit quite and we were all trying to indulge the amazingly concentrated jammy fruit, aromas of chocolate and raisins, the elegant mouthfeel and the very long finish. Once tried with blue cheese, we all agreed that this is an excellent pairing! Dark chocolate and meat dices would also be greatly complimented by the Vintage 1983.

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Vintage 1983 with blue cheese

We were particularly happy when we asked who wanted a refill and our guests pointed out their favourites.

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We would like to thank our dear guests for their excellent company and Stefano for a very informative and yet engaging Master Class.

If you want to see more pictures of the evening, visit our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/amathusdrinks

For more information on our Calem range click the link below:

http://www.amathusdrinks.com/ourbrands/wines/calem-port.html

You can find all the ports we tasted at our shops in Soho and in the City.

Let us know about your port experiences and your favourite pairings. We would love to hear from you!

Whisky Tasting inLeadenhall Market; A treat for the Taste-buds

Friday 14th June saw our Whyte and Mackay whisky tasting working in conjunction with the build-up to father’s day on the following Sunday and it went down a treat. On tasting were Isle of Jura 10 year old and the peated Superstition along with Dalmores 12, 15, 18 years old and the King Alexander premium bottling.

The charming Kai hosted the event outside our city shop in the charismatic surroundings of Leadenhall Market where there were no shortage of willing tasters. Curiosity turned immediately to the Dalmores, all blessed with a rich fruity character due mainly to the various cask finishes. The King Alexander being finished with no less than 6 but judging by sales it was the 15 year old that stole the show. This bottling spends its last 3 years in three different Sherry casks and it is thanks to this that the palate broadens and finishes with a lush and smooth length.

Isle of Jura 10 year old is a perennial favourite for many but it was the lightly peated non age specific Superstition that won our hearts here at Amathus. Though opinion divided over the richness and suppleness of the Dalmores versus the quirky assemblage of the Superstition, this whisky finishes in a curious harmony that suddenly gives an impression of good value.

All said and done the votes fell in favour of the Dalmores in general. The tasting wound up ending a very successful day and whisky sales reflected the trend. We hope those of you who managed to drop by and sample discovered something new and interesting.

Thanks to all who came and tried, and if you missed out we have the next tasting with Flor de Cana rum on 17th July, 12pm-2pm! Don’t miss out!

See you all soon.

Tom Brown,
Amathus City

 

Nothing like a bit of Krug to really make a Monday Evening!

This Monday Evening saw the long awaited Krug tasting event at our City branch in Leadenhall. The much anticipated showing met with crushing demand for tickets while scrutiny and curiosity overtook on the night.

Krug Tasting at Amathus City, Leadenhall Market
Krug Tasting at Amathus City, Leadenhall Market

Charmingly hosted by senior brand manager Olivia Jalibert who gave a brief introduction before we launched into the Grand Cuvee ‘multi vintage’ blend, Krug’s flagship product renowned for its power yet lightness of touch. There were no disappointments here. A waxy lemon and apricot nose led to a subtle blossomy, stone like minerality, with Krug’s signature trace of oxidisation reminiscent of a seductive amontillado. And what zing with freshness of acidity! herein lies the secret of the lightness of touch.

Next in quick succession came the vintage 2000, a very forward style and weightier version. This displayed a more caramel like, baked yeast nose, ‘like putting your nose into a bakery’ Olivia remarked. In an instant the room became divided with opinions, for and against, vintage or multi-vintage, ‘Big and Heavy’ or lighter and fresher.

To round the evening’s tasting off, the house Rosé was served. Having warmed slightly to Olivia’s preferred serving temperature; very subtle, almost imperceptible aromas of fruit, pinot noir and Turkish delight arose from the glass. Olivia conceded that Krug’s philosophy for this bottling is to keep it ‘more krug than Rosé’, it almost demanded the accompaniment of sushi and wasabi.

And so the evening drew to a close, our thanks go to Olivia and Krug themselves for providing us with superb champagne and delightful company.

If you would like to hear about the latest news and events at Amathus City in Leadenhall Market, please email us at City@AmathusDrinks.com or check out our webpage here>>>

Right to left - Non Vintage, Vintage 2000, Rose
Right to left – ‘Multi Vintage’, Vintage 2000, Rose

By Tom Brown,
Amathus City