Wine: Neil Courtier - port regaining popularity

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Porto’s a trendy destination right now.

The Douro’s ‘engine room’ along with Vila Nova di Gaia on the opposite bank of the river, is a hub for new wine bars & restaurants that merge nicely with the traditional Port lodges. One of the most famous Port House’s – Cockburn’s is making a comeback, after several years of decline. Celebrating 200 years of history & now owned by the Symington family, Cockburn’s put down a marker with its 2011 Vintage Port – receiving the highest accolades from the wine trade. The best known label however, Cockburn’s Special Reserve, has also been spruced-up for the modern wine consumer. A phenomenal success story in the 1970’s & 80’s, it’s fresher, whilst retaining the element of accessibility in terms of style and price.

Cockburn’s historic lodge is the largest ‘cellar’ in Vila Nova di Gaia, which now has a new tasting room & picnic area (pre-order a basket of goodies made from local bakers, growers & producers). Nearby Vinum restaurant & wine bar – housed in the Graham’s lodge, is outstanding, with stunning views across the river Douro to Porto & for those wishing to explore the beauty of the upper Douro a new visitor centre has recently been opened at Quinta da Bomfim in Pinhao, just a short walk from the train station.

On The Shelf:

Altano Organic White 2013 Douro £ 8.96 The Drink – White wines from the Douro are on the rise. Enjoy the fresh peach, apricot & citrus fruits from this very appealing wine, which drinks particularly well with salads, shellfish & seafood.

Altano Organic Red 2012 Douro £ 9.99 Waitrose – From Quinta de Assares, owned by the Symington family. A generous nose of blackberries & a note of violet. Very fruity on the palate – damson plum, with ripe tannins & a lick of tangy acidity. Enjoy with slow-roasted pork.

Waitrose Fine Tawny Port £ 8.49 – Pop a bottle in the fridge on a summers day & drink this delicious Port with Duck liver pate, Tart tatin, or soft blue cheeses, such is the versatility of this wine. Raisins, caramel & nutty tones, marry nicely together with a smooth mouth-feel. Great value.

Cockburn’s Special Reserve Port £ 12.00 Waitrose – An aged ruby port, maturing for five years, it’s mellow, yet youthful, medium-sweet in style, with flavours of black cherries & an element of complexity too. Try with chocolate pots.

Cockburn’s Late Bottled Vintage (LBV) Port 2009 £ 12.00 Sainsbury’s – Bright & deep. Youthful bramble-fruit aromas, with a touch of peppery spice. Blackberry, plum, vanilla with a dryish finish.

Cockburn’s Vintage Port 2011 £ 54.80 Hedonism – Dense, dark cherry, violet, quite lifted aromas already. Impressive power & concentration. Destined for greatness, but has youthful appeal for those who can’t wait!