It was a delight to see that Max Graham, son of Jonny Graham, had started a proper Bar for good Portuguese food in the City. His father Jonny set up Churchill Port in the 1970s when Graham’s Port, the family business, was acquired by their close associates in the Douro, the Symington family who also own, amongst others, Dows Port and Warres.
The ideal aperitif and refreshing drink when it’s hot, like it often is in the Douro, is chilled white Port and tonic, often with a sprig of mint. Quite rightly, the Bar Douro is also offering alongside the food the Churchill white Port for this purpose.
Try the white Port neat on its own with the small bites and pata negra ham . Or if you prefer something really dry I have to recommend Fino Sherry from neighbouring Spain, particularly with the Jamon. From Laithwaites I recommend the bone dry but intense Gonzales Byass Fino Los Palmas £18.64 from Master of Malt.
Again do try some of the Churchill family table wines, but with the typical Bacalao salted cod dish, a bright crisp Portuguese Vinho Verde (literally Green wine) is perfect or an Alvarinho from just north of Oporto in the Minho is a perfect choice.
Majestic have Casal de Ventozela 2019 for £8.99 per bottle for a mixed case of six, which is bright, crisp and rich and full bodied enough to work with all these excellent Portuguese tastes. Majestic also have a Vinho Verde from the same House for £7.99 if you want something lighter.
For a red to go with the meat dishes try the excellent Douro Eagle Superior Red wine made from the classic port grapes. The excellent, elegant but meaty wine, with lots of wild berry fruit, 2017 vintage in Majestic Wine is £11.99 for a mixed case.
Finally, you cannot make a gastronomic visit to the Douro without finishing with a glass of Port. I recommend the Churchill 10 year old Tawny, which you may be able to get on line from Bar Douro. If not Majestic have Crofts rich gentle and elegant Reserve Tawny for £14.99.
Mature tawny port slightly chilled also make a wonderful aperitif with some olives and nuts, and of course with cheese and at the end of a good dinner.
Christopher Burr, MW,
10th February 2021