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Oporto’s British Association celebrates 200 years

The British Association in Oporto recently celebrated its 200th anniversary – two centuries to the minute after the inaugural lunch.

The Association was formed on 11 November 1811, after its home, the Factory House in Oporto, was officially returned to the British after the French occupation of the city during the Peninsular War.

There have been other celebratory lunches after the first one, when eleven members of the association sat down for an 11-course meal, with 11 wines served by 11 waiters at 11am on 11 November 1811.

One hundred years later a rather larger membership staged a similar affair, which in turn was replicated in 1961 for the 150th anniversary.

For the 200th anniversary lunch, 11 courses and 11 wines were served to 24 members, at 11am on 11 November 2011, beginning with the two-minute silence in remembrance of those fallen in war.

The meal was presided over by treasurer Dominic Symington, following in the footsteps of his grandfather, Maurice, who sat at the head of the table at the 1961 lunch.

Wines served included Olivier Leflaive Rully Mont Palais 2006, Beaune Clos des Mouches 2007 from Drouhin, Chateau Suduiraut 1996, Chryseia 2003 and Chateau Pontet Canet 1999.

The meal ended with four ports: Churchill’s 1997, Dow’s Colheita 1961, Taylor’s 1935 and Graham’s 1924.

The oldest ports will ‘linger long in the memory of all of us lucky enough to be present’, writes former Cockburns director Peter Cobb in his blog, going on to describe their wonderful ‘creaminess and lusciousness.’

‘All in all,’ he concludes, ‘ it was a brilliantly organised celebration of a remarkable historical event. The original eleven members would have felt totally at home.’

Read Peter Cobb’s account of the meal

Written by Decanter.com staff

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