On the 12th of November the restaurant and wine bar Vinum, located in the heart of W & J Graham’s historic 1890 Lodge, launched the second edition of the gastronomic event Jornadas do Boi.
Aiming to celebrate the autumn flavours found in the traditional cooking of Trás-os-Montes, one of the inland provinces of Northern Portugal, the menu is composed of the strong, hearty flavours that make the food from this region famous.
The centrepiece of the menu is the boi velho, 7 to 8 year old field reared cattle The two animals, weighing 1278 and 1330kg, were selected because of their exceptional quality by Imanol Jaca, one of the worlds most respected butchers, having worked with chefs and restaurants worldwide. The aged meat, from extraordinary animals, is lightly salted and grilled. Served with red peppers, the simplicity of the dish is captivating, as is the taste.
Of course, the ingredients in the rest of the menu are also exquisite, from the fresh cannellini beans, to the stone milled flour that makes Vinum’s bread, each element of the meal is the best there is to offer.
The wines suggested to accompany the meal are the Altano 2013 white, Quinta do Vesuvio 2009 red, and to finish, the Quinta dos Malvedos 2001 Vintage Port. Of course, as Vinum is situated literally meters away from 3,500 ageing casks of Graham’s most precious wines, the exceptional Portuguese cheeses (and English Stilton) and chocolate truffles can be accompanied by a port of your choosing, served by the cup.
Available every day until the 5th of December, the complete menu, consists of:
Dried codfish (bacalhau) salad,
Stewed Iberian pigs trotter and ear with cannellini beans,
Trás-os-Montes rib steak with seasonal red pepper,
One year ago today, on the 21st March 2013, we officially inaugurated the newly renovated Graham’s Lodge and Vinum Restaurant & Wine Bar. Looking back, it has been a year of which we can be proud.
The Symington family’s partnership with Sagardi family has proved extremely successful. The Symington family has created an outstanding wine list, including their own Douro wines and ports as well as those of other winemakers with whom they have close relationships, from Portugal and around the world. While at the same time, Sagardi has brought together the best of traditional Portuguese cuisine with a cosmopolitan touch. The result is a menu, a wine list and a team that has now, already, made Vinum one of the top gastronomic destinations in the north of Portugal.
One of the year’s culinary highlights was the Boi de Trás os Montes menu prepared last autumn. Two oxen were specially selected from farmers in the Trás os Montes region (which literally means, Behind the Mountains): this is one of Portugal’s most exciting and relatively undiscovered culinary regions. This seasonal menu that was designed to accompany the meat celebrated the local ingredients of the region and the Portuguese wines that perfectly complement them.
There is no better place to be in Porto or in Vila Nova de Gaia when the sun is shining than the terrace outside Vinum with a glass of wine and tapas. Vinum’s mission is to set the standard for outstanding Portuguese cuisine, and the signs are so far very positive. Portugal’s food and wine are still relatively new on the international gastronomic scene. Thanks to projects like Vinum Restaurant, though, the country is starting to gain the reputation it deserves.
Vinum has recently received two important awards. First, it won the Best of Wine Tourism award for Best Portuguese Restaurant, in the Great Wine Capitals competition. Then second, at the annual Revista de Vinhos awards ceremony in Portugal, Vinum was named Best Restaurant of the Year 2013.
These two accolades are wonderful milestones by which to measure the Restaurant’s achievements over the last year. Really what they reflect though, is the passion and dedication to fine Portuguese food and wine that the whole of the Vinum team has embodied in their work in the last year. It is this that has built Vinum’s reputation as one of the best Portuguese restaurants around.
Find out more about Vinum, the menu or make a reservation here.
The wild Douro Valley, where Graham’s vineyards thrive, is home to thousands of people who eke out a living in this harsh environment. For hundreds of years, the people of the Douro have been integral to the creation of the Port wine that has made this region famous. But life in such a remote environment can also bring with it deprivation and hardship.
The Douro and Trás-os-Montes region is amongst the poorest in Europe. With their roots deeply established in this region, this is a concern that strikes very close to home for the Symington Family.
This was the backdrop for the fundraising dinner held by the family company, Symington Family Estates, at Vinum Restaurant & Wine Bar located in the spectacular surroundings of Graham’s 1890 Lodge in Vila Nova de Gaia.
From Portugal with love
When the Family bottled the Graham’s 1982 Single Harvest Tawny (‘Colheita’ in Portuguese) in honour of the birth of His Royal Highness Prince George of Cambridge they pledged to donate a proportion of the sales of this commemorative Port to the Douro charity Associação Bagos d’Ouro. In addition to this the dinner and auction held on the evening of Thursday 21st November raised another significant sum to be donated to this admirable charity.
The Symington Family’s pledge to support the work of this charity was given encouragement by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge saying it was “in keeping with Their Royal Highnesses’ wishes”.
The President of Bagos d’Ouro Luísa Amorim made a moving speech during the evening. She drew on the special relationship between The United Kingdom and Portugal, the longest standing alliance in history, as a force for future good in both countries. The dedication of this wine born in the Douro Valley in 1982 to the young Prince born in London this year was felt by all to be a fitting symbol of this ongoing collaboration, following on from the 1952 Tawny Port bottled last year to honour the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
‘Berries of Gold’
“The Douro is a name synonymous with the supreme quality of excellent wines,” said Luísa on Thursday, “but it is also a very poor region.”
Her organization Bagos d’Ouro works with disadvantaged children in the Douro and Trás-os-Montes region to improve the quality of education and in so doing improve the opportunities and prospects of young people growing up there. Their vision, beautifully expressed in a Portuguese proverb, is that “the seeds of today will become the berries of gold of tomorrow”; and the charity’s name translates into English as, ‘Berries of Gold’.
Bagos d’Ouro’s vision is aligned with the Symington Family’s, whose commitment to the Douro region and its people goes back generations. While Port wine is the traditional drink served to toast Royalty and Heads of State, as well as to honour the birth of children.
Dinner and auction
The wines served at Vinum Restaurant on Thursday were testament to the importance of the Douro region for wine-lovers, all of them coming from the Symington Family’s vineyards in the Douro Valley. Likewise the food highlighted the culinary wealth that the Trás-os-Montes region has to offer the world.
But the highlight of the evening was the result of the fundraising auction. The two lots were a 4.5 litre Jeroboam and three 75cl bottles in a wooden display case of Graham’s 1982 Tawny Port.
The Jeroboam was eventually sold for €2550 and the three-bottle case for €1700, which was significantly more than the family had hoped for. The sale of tickets for the dinner raised an additional €2100. All combined and including the €6350 raised through sales of the 1982 Tawny Port the total donation made by Symington Family Estates to Bagos d’Ouro was €12 700.
There was no more fitting way to end the evening than to raise a toast to the President of Portugal, the Queen of The United Kingdom and His Royal Highness Prince George of Cambridge. And of course, the Vinum staff, whose efforts made the evening so magnificent, circulated in the room to charge the glasses before they were raised from two Jeroboams of this very special 1982 Tawny Port.
The recently announced 2011 Vintage Port declaration has met with considerable interest in Portugal and overseas. At Graham’s, we are very proud of our wines and it is very encouraging to register the excitement the 2011 Vintage is generating. This week, Jancis Robinson MW , one of the world’s leading wine critics wrote, “…anyone with an interest in superbly made top-quality red wine worth ageing for decades should arguably turn their backs on Bordeaux 2012 and look instead at Port 2011…There is little doubt that 2011 produced some stunning vintage ports, into which more effort and skill has gone than any other previous vintage in the Douro. And I find it impossible to think of any other wine region, anywhere in the world, that produced better wines.” In her assessment of 31 different Vintage Ports, Graham’s The Stone Terraces 2011 Vintage Port and Graham’s 2011 Vintage Port were among the highest ranked, deserving exceptionally high marks: 18.5/20 and 19/20, respectively.
In similar vein, Manuel Carvalho, writing in Portugal’s respected ‘Público’ newspaper on April 27th, described Graham’s The Stone Terraces 2011 as a “masterpiece”, going on to write: “For its exuberant aromas of fruit, mint and Douro shrubs, for its suggestions of black tea, for its intriguing spice notes, such is its complexity and richness. For its volume on the palate, the power of its tannins, which announce decades of longevity whilst at the same time combining with the acidity and fruit to render it immediately approachable.” His wine critic colleague — Pedro Garcias — was so impressed with the Graham’s 2011 Vintage Port that he summed up as follows, “One simple adjective suffices to describe this Port: superb”. Furthermore he predicted that the 2011 Vintage has what it takes to aspire to a legendary status in the history of Port.
2011 Vintage Port tasting, Graham’s Lodge, April 30th: The first showing of the 2011 Vintage Ports produced by the Symington family was on April 18th (scroll down to see previous post) in which Portuguese journalists were hosted by Paul and Charles Symington. The family decided to organize a second tasting, earlier this week in response to the enormous interest shown in Portugal following the declaration, barely two weeks ago. We will spare our followers repetition, but it is worth reproducing here some interesting, complementary aspects — recounted by Paul and Charles in both tastings — that weren’t touched on in the previous post.
Paul Symington emphasized the importance that Vintage Port declarations play as personal and career-defining moments, just as they were for previous generations who are remembered very much for the Vintages that they made ‘on their watch’. Paul has been involved in 9 Vintage declarations and Charles in 5 declarations, thus far.
All the 2011 Vintage Ports made by the Symington family were 100% from their own vineyards, a natural development given their sustained investment in vineyards since the late 1970s (vineyard acquisitions and vineyard replanting). With a total of 965 hectares (2,385 acres) of vineyards, dotted across the finest sub-regions of the Douro Valley and representing an incredible diversity of terroirs, the family has remarkable scope in selecting wines for their Vintage Ports.
For the first time in half a century (specifically since the 1963 vintage in the Douro) the Vintage Ports in 2011 were 100% vinified in lagares (shallow treading tanks) and this shows through in the superb quality displayed by all the 2011 wines.
A point not often explained but one that has a great bearing on the family’s capacity to consistently produce outstanding Vintage Ports is the tremendous benefit of owning and operating several small micro-wineries (referred to by some as ‘boutique’ wineries) with independent winemaking teams (coordinated by Charles Symington) whose sole objective is the production of the best possible Port. There is no loss of focus in the pursuit of this goal because they are not distracted by the requirement to make styles of Port other than those with the potential to be graded as Vintage Port.
Leading on from the above, Charles was also keen to stress the significance of the substantial investment made over the last 10 to 15 years in numerous small storage tanks at these specialist wineries. This allows each fermentation to be kept separate until such time as the winemakers and tasters decide how to best use them. Paul reinforced that the possibility of keeping such ‘diamonds in the rough’ separately is a key contributor in the making of exceptional Ports.
During this second tasting session, Charles and Paul made a bit of a joke about the distinction made between old vines and the others — when describing the provenance of grapes that contribute to Vintage Port blends. The fact is that when we refer to old vines, we really should say very old mixed vines (50 years+) because ‘the others’ are 25 to 30 years old and thus, by any standard, are themselves old, mature vines (planted in single varietal parcels during the early 1980s).
Following this second tasting which involved 13 different wines (the 5 components of the Graham’s 2011 Vintage + 8 Vintage Ports; two Graham wines; two Vesuvio wines and one each from Cockburn’s, Dow’s, Warre’s and Quinta de Roriz), the 15 guest tasters were invited to lunch at the new Vinum restaurant at Graham’s where the highlight was a lovely Graham’s 1963 Vintage Port, celebrating its 50th birthday this year.
Following months of careful preparation, the VINUM restaurant at Graham’s opened its doors to the public on February 19th. The VINUM Restaurant & Wine Bar forms an integral part of Graham’s renovated 1890 Lodge, sections of which have already opened to visitors. The new visitors’ centre — ‘Graham’s 1890 Lodge’ — will be formally inaugurated on the 21st of March. This is a full working Port Lodge in Vila Nova de Gaia and especially attractive in that it now offers its visitors a restaurant and wine bar. Graham’s has teamed up with SAGARDI, www.gruposagardi.com , internationally recognized as specialists in wine-related gastronomy at the very highest level. At VINUM, you are presented with ideal food pairings for the Symington family’s extensive range of Douro and Port wines. The entrées, main courses and desserts are specially created to accompany these wines.
VINUM’S Portuguese team will strive from the outset to create wonderful food from all the best natural ingredients that can be produced in, and sourced from, the North of Portugal, including of course, the Douro Valley and from the cold and clean deep waters of the neighbouring Atlantic Ocean. The Portuguese Atlantic coast has a world reputation as a source of some of the world’s very best seafood. Fresh fish will be served daily from the day’s catch, obtained from the local Matosinhos fishing harbour.
Vinum’s setting is very much in the Lodge environment. To one side, once sat down at their table, diners can view the seemingly endless rows of pipes, separated from the restaurant by a clever, discreet metal and glass screen. On the opposite side there is the large bulk of the Lodge’s granite walls. Elegant iron columns support the attractive original Riga pine timbers and roofing; their seasoned tones casting an inviting, soft golden light over the tables. In short, a very atmospheric surrounding in which to enjoy delicious meals with some wonderful wines.
The restaurant comfortably seats up to 90 people and a further 64 in the adjoining Atrium terrace. If required, an additional 16 people can be accommodated at the chef’s private table. VINUM is open all year round, serving lunch and dinner, as well as light snacks and wine by the glass in the wine bar.
The Atrium: The VINUM restaurant also features a very attractive external covered seating area, on the terrace adjoining the main Lodge façade and known as ‘The Atrium.’ This terrace has one of the very best views of any restaurant in Gaia and Porto. Given the Graham’s Lodge location on high ground, it commands expansive views of the old medieval quarters of Porto and Gaia, as well as the iconic Dom Luis ‘double-decker’ bridge over the Douro River. This view is spectacular both during the day and at night, when all the medieval landmarks are beautifully floodlit. This terrace can furthermore be enjoyed in all weathers as a well designed, graceful conservatory type structure allows for year-round usage and therefore, come rain or sunshine, VINUM’S diners can always enjoy the remarkable vistas.
The Wine bar: with its stylish and carefree bistro ambience, visitors can enjoy a variety of snacks (‘tapas’, ‘pintxos’, sweet pastries) and wine by the glass, seated on tall stools around the bar itself or at small round tables. There is also an outside, open air terrace, ideal for enjoying Porto’s year round sunshine with a chilled white wine or perhaps a lightly chilled Old Tawny Port.
Bring your family and friends and pay us a visit at Vinum; we are confident you will be impressed. Why not come before lunch and visit our museum and lodge, enjoy an appetizer at the wine bar and then progress to the restaurant proper to sample Vinum’s superb gastronomy?
If you would like to book a table please ring +351 220 930 417 or email us at: email@example.com