One of the experts appearing in Auckland is Jorge Nunes who followed five generations of his family down the winemaking path. While studying, Jorge worked in wineries across Portugal and in the Napa Valley, California. He now works for Symington Family Estates portfolio of wines across Asia and the Pacific and during Wine AKL Jorge will host several sessions to discuss the philosophy and process behind aged tawny port. He's full of tips and tricks for beginners and experts alike — read on to find out the best ways to keep warm with wine this winter.
Your family was clearly a huge factor, but what cemented your decision to go into the wine industry?
The pivotal moment when I decided winemaking was what I wanted to do, was when I tried one of our family company's new red wine - supposedly a very good one - and understood it was pretty awful! I made the decision right there and then that something had to be done to improve the quality of the wines, and went to study winemaking in college. Ironically, I graduated when the company was sold, so unfortunately couldn't put in place what I had learned!
In terms of your career, what's been the most important or influential experience?
I would have to say it was the grape harvest of 2002, done at Graham's Quinta dos Malvedos while I was still a winemaking student, not knowing I would end up working for the company several years later. It was my first full-on harvest, and living and breathing the beauty and hardship of the Douro Valley, everyday for several weeks, was a life-changing experience.
After spending so many of your days thinking about it, what keeps you excited about port?
I would add days thinking, and drinking it! I have worked for nearly 9 years making, promoting and selling Port, and the passion is the same today as it was in the beginning. I love to drink Port - not all styles mind you, I do have my favourites like a chilled 10 or 20 years old Tawny - and on top of that, I'm particularly passioned about the history of this wine that spans centuries (was for many years considered the king of all wines), and the beauty of its origin, the Douro Valley. For those who have never visited it, I urge you to do so. It's magnificent. Once you see it you'll understand why I'm still excited about Port.
What should we be drinking during the coldest months?
Port is a wine that is traditionally consumed in the winter, as its higher alcohol level has a certain "warming" element to it. This means almost all styles are suitable for the cold season. I would, however, suggest you try a premium ruby Port such as a Dow's Late Bottled Vintage or Graham's Six Grapes Reserve, as these are very fruitful and full-bodied, and pair wonderfully with hard cheeses or dark chocolate. They would be my choice for the winter!
Could you tell us a little about the session you'll be hosting during Wine AKL?
I'm actually going to present 3 sessions, aiming at different themes and audience. There will be a generic tasting where the basics will be explained (where it comes from, how it's made, different Port styles), a sommelier session more driven to Port and food pairing (we're probably keep it classic here, with dark chocolate and cheese) and a more advanced presentation on Graham's Aged Tawny Ports, showing how much the barrel aging influences the wines - we're tasting the whole line-up: Graham's 10, 20, 30 and 40 Years Old, and we might throw in a surprise wine at the end! I'm super excited with everything, but this last one should be great.
How would a novice's experience of your class be different to someone with more knowledge?
Our objective as a company is to demistify Port, and allowing everyone to enjoy at their own pace, while building in them the curiosity so they can continue to learn and try more Port styles. Obviously, if you are already more experienced, you'll likely take more advantage from the sessions, but all novice's are welcome as the presentations will cover the basics so everyone can learn from them!
What advice would you have to someone wanting to learn more about port?
Port has a lot of different styles, and can sometimes feel a bit complicated to get into. My advice is that you try a couple of styles, such as Late Bottled Vintage and a 10 or 20 Years Old Tawny, which are 2 very different wines and will help you understand the different aromas and tastes. I would suggest, however, that whatever you choose, make sure you serve it in a proper glass (such as where you would serve a NZ Sauvignon Blanc), and not in the small tiny glasses usually associated with Port. And try keeping the wines in the fridge before serving, they taste much lighter and fresher!
You can find out more about the masterclasses happening as part of Wine AKL by clicking here.