To London for the annual Portuguese tasting, held this year in a big marquee- like structure overlooking Lords Cricket Ground. This year I am on the ‘other side of the fence’ for the first time, or more correctly the table that separates me from the potential buyers and journalists all of whom, I am convinced, must taste Pedra Basta. It is a very different experience from previous years when, as a journalist, I have been the one doing the grazing. So I walk briskly round the room trying to haul in the people who I think should taste the wine. The turnout is not that good. There are two other major trade tastings on in London today and quite a few of the most prominent buyers and wine writers seem to have given Portugal a miss. I try to put it into perspective. Portugal has just under 1% of the UK market and I am shocked to read a statistic that of this, 78.5% is rosé. There are well over 100 producers represented here at Lords today all struggling to sell their wines in a market that is already crowded out with wines from every wine producing country in the world. How does Portugal get a look-in? I spend the day talking to a number of buyers and journalists, repeating the same story about Sonho Lusitano, Quinta do Centro and Pedra Basta, showing them the 2005 and cask samples of the 2006. It is a useful but exhausting day and at the end I feel for all those wine producers who for years have travelled the world to spend all day on a stand showing wine to people like me. There must be better was of marketing wine than this and I console myself with the fact that, like picking grapes, I am only going to do this once a year.
19 - 20 An outstanding wine (*****)
17 – 18 An excellent wine in its class, highly recommended (****)
15 - 16 A good wine, with much to recommend it (***)
13 - 14 An enjoyable but simple, straightforward wine (**)
10 – 12 A very ordinary wine without faults but with no great merit (*)
8 - 10 Disagreeable (no stars)
Below 8 Faulty