Perhaps you’re gonna think I’m the most inappreciative idiot out there when reading this – and perhaps I am – but I can’t let go of the fact what thoughts goes through my mind after having tasted the 5G. Why can Port wine command such astronomic prices compared to Madeira without being superior, just different? Are there any risks with this sudden trend of super premium and extremely limited Port bottlings?
First though; the background. 5G. No, I haven’t tasted an Iphone. It’s a wine. Behind it you will find Wine & Soul, one of my favorite producers in the Douro Valley. Sandra Tavares da Silva and her husband Jorge Serôdio Borges are both sharp and brilliant winemakers. If you haven’t seen my post on Wine & Soul, click here.
5G stands for five generations and you’ve probably already figured it out; it’s an old wine, very old. The wine comes from three casks at the Borges family estate Quinta da Manoella – and all are more than 100 years old, actually about 120 years old. But since the documentation of the wines aren’t complete, it can’t be sold as a Colheita, that is marked with a vintage. Hence the name 5G since Jorge is the fifth generation producing this wine which previously only were enjoyed at special family occasions. Not more than 300 bottles will be available on the market and the price, well the price will of course be up to the retailer but do expect to pay around 1,500 euros. Indexing 100+ years and adding access and demand, few will probably question the price tag.
Praise 1 – the importer. I write about wine and have my focus areas; weak spots of mine or regions I am curious to find out more about. Hence I really appreciate when an importer, who wishes for me to taste a specific wine, do their homework and when asking if I’m interested in tasting samples, offers stuff I’m focusing on. That is respect. And when offered to taste a small sample of the 5G, well what can I say but the greatest thanks for the kindness Margareta.
Praise 2 – the wine. What strikes me when sniffing the wine – and tasting it – is just how remarkably fresh it is. Sure, the old wood is there and a hint of moist sawdust, but never it becomes negative, au contraire, it adds dimensions. Sweet licorice, pipe tobacco, dried figs and a fascinating green walnut scent. The wine is unfolding gracefully in the glass. A slight floral scent appears followed by dried orange peel. And then it appears; the one that elicits goosebumps; the newly rained dusty gravel road on a summer! It’s beautiful; ethereal. As if the wine were weightless. The palate is viscous, almost creamy, packed with flavor and yet the first thing that comes to mind is elegance. Oriental spices, nutmeg, a floral note, smoky oak and a fudge like taste. The texture is gorgeous and in the long finale there’s the pipe tobacco, the orange and marzipan. The sweetness is there but is never cloying. And again, that acidity…..how’s it possible?
Concern 1. First the Taylor’s Scion and then the Tributa from Quinta do Vallado and 5G from Wine & Soul. Is this a trend more producers will join and if so, can it come with any risks? There’s no doubt that in Douro there is a lot of old wine. Few though, will be able to be sold as Colheitas, hence the exclusive bottles without date. It’s a product with extremely limited availability but is it good for Douro and the Port business? Is there a risk it just turns out like Champagne where the efforts on the package has reached such levels for the premium bottles, that it appeals to all others than the actual winelovers? In the case of 5G there is no question about the quality, but will more wines from other perhaps lesser known producers suddenly start popping up, premium packed and with extremely high prices? Or should we simply just let the Douro producers have this treat because they deserve the attention? What’s your thought?
Concern 2. I’m Mad about Madeira. In my world, it’s the most breathtaking wine in the world. That doesn’t equal being better than Port wine, not at all. It’s a preference. But when premium Port wine command prices out of this world, I can pick up the divine and documented 1850 Vintage Verdelho from d’Oliveiras at half the price. It’s 750 euros at Luís d’Oliveira when visiting the producer at Rua dos Ferreiros in Funchal. 2 bottles of that one or one premium port? Why is it like that? Do Madeira producers suck at marketing and building the brand? I don’t believe that is the case; I’ve seen their commitment and even Blandy’s do have a connection to Douro with the Symingtons. So, why do you think the 1850 Verdelho is half the price?
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Summary; the wine is divine and kickstarts a lot of thoughts. I have no issues with the price. I’m basically in favor of wines like 5G. It puts well deserved attention to a region. But are there any risks? Second; I like Madeira. Why is Madeira cheap in comparison? I don’t know. Comment, share your thoughts!