Leaders and liters…at Quinta de Vargellas

Yesterday I attended a vertical tasting of single vineyard, vintage ports from Taylor’s Quinta de Vargellas. Adrian Bridge, managing director of Taylor-Fladgate, was in attendance in NYC and regaled our group with stories not only about the wines but also about how a local town’s population astonishingly dwindled from eight to three and how an enormous St. Bernard slashed a local realtor’s pride.

More details to come on the wines, the Quinta de Vargellas, and Adrian’s comments on specialty port.

But what grabbed my attention for immediate posting was the fact that they keep a guest book at the winery at Vargellas where visitors are requested to write a poem. I don’t know if these are impromptu poems or if they are told about this before lunch and then have to produce one after lunch–indeed, some of the poems seemed quite “lunch” influenced.

Most of the poems do not have the author’s name attributed in the brochure, but a few did. In the latest addition to our series “leaders and liters of wine,” consider this poem from a visit (during a war!) by the sitting Defense Secretary of the United States. I’ve redacted his name and his wife’s for your guessing pleasure in the comments.

“From out of the sky they flew into Vargellas,
Richard Cheney, his party and Lynne.
But the hosts in Oporto forgot to tell us
the numbers we had to fit in.
Mais Cabirto called “Gilly,”
the hostess so cool,
as forty turned seventy three.
While the wine-hacks with training stood by at the pool
serving port to all they could see. “

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10 Responses to “Leaders and liters…at Quinta de Vargellas”

  1. I love learning about vineyards and wineries. This is a neat location. I also read about one on the blog site, luxury.affluence.org. It is about a winery in California that is very organic in everything it does.

  2. This is rather cryptic.

    My first instinct, since you mentioned a sitting secretary of defense during a war, is to focus on “…as forty turned seventy-three…” I thought “forty” could refer to Ronald Reagan, the 40th president. And the sitting sec of defense when Reagan turned 73 (in 1984) was Caspar Weinberger.

    But something tells me that’s not where this is going.

  3. Hey Mark –

    Thanks for a good guess. I’m not sure that all that referring to presidents as numbers really took off until the 41 & 43 duo. I think that reference was to the size of their party doubling.

    To reward your creativity, you get a hint: Mr. Secretary was the same party (and era) as 40, 41, & 43!

  4. What makes Vargellas even more special is its own train station, at the side of the Douro river.

    Until few years ago it had a station master, though nobody uses the train to reach Vargellas. But the train stills stopping there.

  5. Poetry and port!
    Way to reel us all in on a cold winter’s day.

  6. Seriously? Dick Cheney?

    That’s just so…. wrong.

  7. Brava, Emily!!

    Yes, the missing words above were “Richard Cheney” and “Lynne.”

    They visited the Quinta in 1990.

    And Mark thought I’d waste all your time with Casper Weinberger! 😉

  8. Tyler, did you write “[rhymes with first name of spouse].” or was that actually a part of the poem? I’ve never seen a poem point out to the reader exactly how it rhymes.

  9. I like how Cheney puts his wife outside his “party.”

    But I still think Caspar Weinberger would have made for a fine, fine poem.

    Reminiscent of this fine poem from the 1980s comic strip “Bloom County”:

    How I love to watch the morn,
    With golden sun that shines,
    Up above to nicely warm
    These frosty toes of mine.

    The wind doth taste of bittersweet,
    Like jasper wine and sugar.
    I bet it’s blown through others’ feet,
    Like those of… Caspar Weinberger.

  10. Mark,

    We know that all Defense Secretaries–yes, even William Cohen–must bow to the poetic titan among them, Donald Rumsfeld. Here’s a taste of one of his classics, an improvisation from the Pentagon briefing room:

    The Unknown
    As we know,
    There are known knowns.
    There are things we know we know.
    We also know
    There are known unknowns.
    That is to say
    We know there are some things
    We do not know.
    But there are also unknown unknowns,
    The ones we don’t know
    We don’t know.

    —Feb. 12, 2002, Department of Defense news briefing

    See many more in this article on Slate.


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