Posts Tagged : Bairrada

Surf n Turf

Text Ilkka Sirén

It’s no secret that most Portuguese wine regions are still unknown for most people. They are even quite unknown for people working in the wine industry. Portugal has gained some fame in the past few years as a wine country of good quality wines that doesn’t kill your wallet. This being said Portugal has every opportunity to produce wines of such stature that they probably will kill your wallet. That much we know. Still, as a hopeless romantic I’m just a tiny bit scared that mysterious wine country I once fell in love with is becoming more and more mainstream. Such is the burden of a genuine wine hipster, I guess.

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Wine Glass – Photo by Ilkka Sirén | All Rights Reserved

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Chorizo – Photo by Ilkka Sirén | All Rights Reserved

But I needn’t worry. Portugal with its kazillion native grape varieties will keep the busy soccer mom away from the ever so confusing variety names like Touriga Nacional and Tinta Pinheira, just to name a few. Many of my friends who have travelled to Portugal went in completely unaware of Portuguese wines but they left as huge fans. As did I.

I personally like to use wine when I’m cooking. Not in the food necessarily but as a source of inspiration. As I started slicing the spicy chorizo for my pasta I suddenly, but not surprisingly, got thirsty. One of Portugal’s strengths is definitely the good value for money wines which can be a blessing and a curse at the same time. Easy-going, quaffable and affordable wines of different styles flow in and out of glasses with considerable ease.

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Surf n Turf Pasta – Photo by Ilkka Sirén | All Rights Reserved

While preparing the spicy shrimp and chorizo “Surf n Turf” pasta my mind wandered towards Bairrada. A cheeky little blend from Bagaland is just what the doctor ordered. I got my hands on Torre de Coimbra 2012. A blend of Baga, Touriga Nacional and Tinta Pinheira made by LusoVini. An export wine for sure because in all my travel in Portugal I’ve never seen a wine with a screw cap. I’m sure there is some it’s just not very common a country where the cork trees almost sacred. We in the cold north wouldn’t recognize a cork tree from a palm tree so screw caps are a very popular choice of closure.

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Torre de Coimbra 2012 – Photo by Ilkka Sirén | All Rights Reserved

The wine itself was, hmm, what is the scientific term for it…”just OK”. Well, considering that it’s less than 10 euros from the monopoly shop over here it wasn’t too bad. A very straightforward, fruity wine with a touch of oak. It might come as a surprise but finding a decent bottle of wine under 10 euros in Finland is easier said than done. We get plenty of polished techno-wines that are everything but interesting. This bugger from Bairrada actually resembles a proper wine hence it is a proper wine. I’m not going to lose sleep over it but I could see myself drinking more of this. If not else just as a source of cooking inspiration.

Contacts
Lusovini Distribuição, SA
Avenida da Liberdade nº 15, Areal
3520-061 Nelas, Portugal
Tel: +351 232 942 153
Fax: +351 232 945 243
Email: info@lusovini.com
Website: www.lusovini.com

Caves da Montanha

Text João Pedro de Carvalho | Translation Jani Dunne

Continuing our trip around Bairrada, we are now ending it with a visit to one of the best producers in the region, Caves da Montanha (Anadia). Their annual production is about one million and seven-hundred thousand bottles, although about two million bottles are currently stored in the long underground cellars, twenty-thousand of which have been ageing for over twenty-four months in bottles. In Portugal, high-quality sparkling wine hasn’t always been around. It has been growing and proving itself to consumers in the last decade. The reality is that the wine available in Portugal these days was never this good before, but adding to all that, it is also true that Bairrada is becoming a region where it makes more and more sense to produce sparkling wine.

Founded in 1943 by Adriano Henriques, the company has been passed down from parents to children, and is currently run by the fourth generation, more specifically by Alberto Henriques. Although the range of products is spread across every region, including many kinds of products, in my opinion, the soul of this business is in Bairrada sparkling wines. The oenology team is composed by António Selas and Bruno Seabra along with Alberto Henriques; they have been very able to find the right path, and together, they have helped rebuild the Bairrada region.

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Caves da Montanha Chardonnay-Pinot 2009 – Photo by João Pedro de Carvalho | All Rights Reserved

In order to accomplish the renewal of an entire region, Comissão Vitivinícola da Bairrada (Bairrada wine-growing commission) contributed a lot. It’s represented by José Pedro Soares, their dynamic president. But that subject on its own deserves another article; for now, it’s more important to highlight the sparkling wines tasted at Caves da Montanha cellars. The first was Montanha Grande-Cuvée Baga 2009, born in an excellent year, according to the producer. This bubbly reveals a more classical profile, if one may call it so; it combines notes that prove a little evolution with the freshness of ripe fruit, notes of biscuit and a hint of nuts. Good presence on the mouth, the fruit showing its presence in both flavour and quantity, a lot of elegant freshness, and the finish shows good persistence. This sparkling wine has enough energy for more heavily seasoned meals.

In 2008, the first reference to Montanha Grande Cuvée Chardonnay-Baga emerges. Very fresh on the nose, a hint of biscuit and notes of pear, a lot of fruits related to the Chardonnay variety and a pinch of yeast. Good exuberance in the blend, a thin, elegant mousse, its acidity cleanses the palate, composing a sparkling wine that creates easy harmony around the table. The Montanha Real Grande Reserva 2009 is top-of-the-range. It is released almost every two years and, in this harvest, reveals a blend of Chardonnay, Arinto, Pinot and Baga. Its aroma is of fruit cocktails, light biscuit-y notes, some jam, a lot of freshness, and stamina. The mouth shows engagement, which fills up the palate; freshness with the feeling of creaminess, a dry and long finish.

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Caves da Montanha Chardonnay-Baga 2008 – Photo Provided by Caves da Montanha | All Rights Reserved

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Caves da Montanha A.Henriques Edição Especial 70 Anos 2006 – Photo Provided by Caves da Montanha | All Rights Reserved

For the end, we left A. Henriques Edição Especial 70 Anos Bruto 2006, a sparkling wine made from Chardonnay, Arinto and some Baga, which combine very good freshness with notes of the passing of time. Involved in a delicate and very thin complexity that combines aromas of the white pulp in Chardonnay, the more citrus-like aftertastes of Arinto, with the Baga adding robustness to the blend. In the background, notes of biscuits with herbal tea, some toasted bread in a complex blend, which on the mouth proves quite elegant while combining light creaminess with the lovely freshness of the fruit. It shone as it accompanied the Bairrada-style roast suckling pig.

Contacts
Rua Adriano Henriques 12
Apartado 18
3781-907 Anadia
Portugal
Tel: (+351) 231 512 260
Fax: (+351) 231 515 602
Website: www.cavesdamontanha.pt

In the Bairrada Region, a Producer With a Great Tradition

Text José Silva | Translation Jani Dunne

I remember many years ago, in cafés in Lisbon, it was customary to order “A bica (espresso) and a São Domingos!”

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Aguardente Bagaceira (Marc Spirit) Caves São Domingos © Blend All About Wine, Lda

This São Domingos was the brandy made by Caves São Domingos, and very popular as a high quality spirit. Times went by, drinking spirits became less and less popular due to a law that emerged in the meantime, but Caves São Domingos are still there and, among many other products, they produce this and other very high quality drinks.

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Caves São Domingos are Still There © Blend All About Wine, Lda

The cellars still include the facilities in Anadia, but have been growing and have been producing not only more wines and spirits, but also a broader variety of products.

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Their Prestigious Brandies © Blend All About Wine, Lda

Although the main – and most renowned – product is the sparkling wine, their prestigious brandies have kept the traditional customers coming as well as broadening the range of consumer types, who search more and more for genuine products. Table wines, from the regions of Bairrada and Dão, have taken over the front page of the company’s portfolio.

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Modern Cellar © Blend All About Wine, Lda

All these developments make them want to stay up-to-date, which is why the company now has a modern cellar and all the technology available – especially the Cold Chain that enables them to make modern attractive wines. Furthermore, they can also keep producing sparkling wines distinguished by national and international experts, and by the end customers.

Blend-All-About-Wine-Caves-Sao-Domingos-More-Than-2-Million-Bottles In the Bairrada Region, a Producer With a Great Tradition In the Bairrada Region, a Producer With a Great Tradition Blend All About Wine Caves Sao Domingos More Than 2 Million Bottles

More Than 2 Million Bottles – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

In their cellars now age more than two million bottles of sparkling wine, of several categories, and which are released in the market according to demand.

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Traditional Riddling Wine Racks © Blend All About Wine, Lda

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Coexisting With The Most Modern Method of Remuage – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

They still rest in the traditional riddling wine racks, where bottles are turned by hand every day. Those racks coexist with the most modern method of remuage (turning bottles periodically) and allow for producing a larger amount of sparkling wine while ensuring the quality.

Thanks to great care in dissemination, participation in countless national or international fairs and wine tasting events throughout the country, sparkling wines are more and more consumed with the rich Portuguese cuisine, which goes far beyond roasted suckling pig – although a still very popular and very good natural partner.

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Demi-johns © Blend All About Wine, Lda

This is also where they store the liqueur demi-johns and the ageing casks for several brandies produced in those cellars. The latter are known in many markets as the best in Portugal. São Domingos wines are made of grapes from their own vineyards and other producers’ vineyards in Bairrada and Dão, who the company assists with technical matters, ensuring top quality raw materials.

Blend-All-About-Wine-Caves-Sao-Domingos-Old-Wall-Clock In the Bairrada Region, a Producer With a Great Tradition In the Bairrada Region, a Producer With a Great Tradition Blend All About Wine Caves Sao Domingos Old Wall Clock

The Old Wall Clock – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

In the main room, the old wall clock reminded us that it was time to taste some wines. So we did, with Caves São Domingos white 2014, of floral aromas and some citrus lending the Maria Gomes and Bical varieties. In the mouth, it feels velvety, slightly citrusy, flavourful and very enjoyable. Next was Volúpia White, also a 2014, although comprising Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Maria Gomes varieties – a modern wine and very fresh, very mineral, with excellent volume in the mouth, very balanced acidity and filled with elegance. – For a more detailed insight of these white wines please check João Pedro de Carvalho previous article here.

Blend-All-About-Wine-Caves-Sao-Domingos-Old-Reserve-Brute-2009 In the Bairrada Region, a Producer With a Great Tradition In the Bairrada Region, a Producer With a Great Tradition Blend All About Wine Caves Sao Domingos Old Reserve Brute 2009

Velha Reserva Brut 2008 © Blend All About Wine, Lda

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Cuvée Brut 2011 © Blend All About Wine, Lda

Then, the sparkling wines. First, Velha Reserva Brut 2008, made of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, very fresh floral notes in the nose, hay, brioche and a little hint of toast. The bubble is very fine and elegant, it was refreshing in the mouth with notes of nuts. Following, the Cuvée Brut 2011, with Baga and Sauvignon Blanc, had some complexity in the nose, it was fruity, with dry notes, a very refined bubble, very refreshing in the mouth with a hint of toast, very soft notes of almond – a very elegant sparkling wine.

Blend-All-About-Wine-Caves-Sao-Domingos-Aguardente-Lopo-de-Freitas-Brute-2010 In the Bairrada Region, a Producer With a Great Tradition In the Bairrada Region, a Producer With a Great Tradition Blend All About Wine Caves Sao Domingos Aguardente Lopo de Freitas Brute 2010

Lopo de Freitas Brut 2010 © Blend All About Wine, Lda

Finally, we tasted Lopo de Freitas Brut 2010, already a classic wine by this company. Cerceal and Chardonnay make an excellent match, their bubbles very refined, slightly fruity aromas, somewhat exotic. In the mouth, it has excellent acidity; it is full, creamy, with light notes of nuts and a lasting and pleasant finish.

Blend-All-About-Wine-Caves-Sao-Domingos-Roast-Suckling-Pig In the Bairrada Region, a Producer With a Great Tradition In the Bairrada Region, a Producer With a Great Tradition Blend All About Wine Caves Sao Domingos Roast Suckling Pig

Roast Suckling Pig – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

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Some Citiric Suggestions – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

Present in the roast suckling pig was Blanc de Blancs Brut 2011: very fresh, mineral and with some citric suggestions, great acidity and battling the pork.

Blend-All-About-Wine-Caves-Sao-Domingos-Blanc-de-Blancs-Brute-2011 In the Bairrada Region, a Producer With a Great Tradition In the Bairrada Region, a Producer With a Great Tradition Blend All About Wine Caves Sao Domingos Blanc de Blancs Brute 2011

Blanc de Blancs Brut 2011 – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

To finish, “an espresso and a São Domingos”, of course…

Contacts
Caves do Solar de São Domingos, S.A.
Ferreiros – Anadia
Apartado 16
3781-909 Anadia – Portugal
Tel: (+351) 231 519 680
Fax: (+351) 231 511 269
E-mail: info@cavesaodomingos.com
Website: www.cavesaodomingos.com

The two Arinto wines by Marquês de Marialva

Text João Pedro de Carvalho | Translation Jani Dunne

Following an earlier article, which focused on the topic of white wines produced in Portugal, I shall now highlight two beautiful examples from Bairrada. In an introductory manner, I must say that everybody knows oenologist Osvaldo Amado feels passionate about the Arinto variety; he has felt this way since he worked in the Bucelas region. Now that he has settled in Bairrada, he often introduces his customers to various interesting examples by several producers he works for.

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Adega Cooperativa de Cantanhede – Photo by Adega Cooperativa de Cantanhede | All Rights Reserved

One thing is for certain: the Arinto variety is spread across the Portuguese territory, from Alentejo to Vinho Verde, where they call it Pedernã. However, the best region for it is Bucelas (Lisbon), because although some producers of that region are noted for the quality of their wines, they don’t seem to make much of a stir.

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Marquês de Marialva Reserva Arinto 2013 – Photo by João Pedro de Carvalho | All Rights Reserved

Going back to the main topic, these two wines made by Adega de Cantanhede from Arinto varitey in Bairrada have briefly been put in wooden casks as part of Osvaldo Amado’s competent care. The first is Marquês de Marialva Reserva Arinto 2013, winner of the 4th Competition of Bairrada Wines and Sparkling Wines. 30% of its share fermented in new casks, which results in a captivating wine, given the combination of fresh fruit (lime, grapefruit) with a hint of vegetable, in a very stark profile embraced by the slightly oily feeling the wood conveys. Rather tense and mineral in depth, this wine slips pleasantly and tastefully through the mouth. A medium body, not as vigorous as the nose tasting suggested, but quite refreshing and with a dry finish.

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Marquês de Marialva Grande Reserva Arinto 2014 – Photo by João Pedro de Carvalho | All Rights Reserved

The Marquês de Marialva Arinto Grand Reserva 2012 is the new top-of-the-range white by Adega de Cantanhede, and was only bottled in 2014. A broad glass is recommended, because this wine likes to stretch its legs while unwrapping its charms, bonding with you straight away. It shows that it has been in a cask, but the fruit is what affects you most – scented and very fresh, very well outlined with hints of lemon, lime and jellied orange. Broad, with great complexity, captivating you with every twirl in the glass, the variety always present. In the mouth, it’s cohesive, ample and fresh, with a slightly oily touch embracing a body of fresh and juicy albeit delicate fruit, with a soft mineral austerity in the background – a pleasure, no doubt.

Contacts
Adega Cooperativa de Cantanhede, C.R.L.
Rua Eng. Amaro da Costa, Nº117
3060-170 Cantanhede Bairrada – Portugal
Tel: (+351) 231 419 540
Fax: (+351) 231 420 768
E-Mail: geral@cantanhede.com
Website: www.cantanhede.com

Quinta do Ortigão, from Bairrada to the World

Text João Pedro de Carvalho | Translation Jani Dunne

Bairrada looks different. In the kingdom of the Baga grape, winds of change begin to blow as part of the new producers veer away from the more traditional register, which may, in turn, have driven away many wine consumers in the region. In fact, the more classic profile of Bairrada doesn’t always charm you right from the start. Most of the time, it needs to be kept for a while, which usually is not what consumers these days have in mind. Someone who buys a wine wants to enjoy it as much and as immediately as possible. Therefore, there is a demand for ready-to-drink wines, whose profile is more in tune with the modern times, and all this without tampering with the region’s identity/image.

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Quinta do Ortigão – Photo by Quinta do Ortigão | All Rights Reserved

Presently, few producers are proud of preserving that classic profile which brought the region its fame, while others endeavour by taking their wines down a path of different scents and flavours, and betting on grape varieties renowned worldwide, such as Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, as well as the more traditional Bical, Arinto, Maria Gomes and Baga.

The brand ‘Quinta do Ortigão’ emerged in early 2001 when the family made a decision. Taking knowledge that goes back three generations, they enhanced their business with a modern cellar of decent size. I had the opportunity to taste this producer’s last two releases. Their wines are created by renowned oenologist Osvaldo Amado.

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Quinta do Ortigão Arinto/Bical 2014 & Ortigão Reserva 2010 – Photo by João Pedro de Carvalho | All Rights Reserved

Quinta do Ortigão Arinto/Bical 2014 wine proves to be very precise in its aromas, highlighting the fruit, which is revealed ripe and clean; citrus, white-pulp fruit, floral scent mixing in with a hint of mineral that dominates the entire background. In itself, it’s very enjoyable. In the palate, however, it becomes even more convincing and delightful, its freshness enhanced and maintaining a firm structure. The perfect pair for, say, a spaghetti marinara.

Once we taste Ortigão Reserva 2010, we no longer have a Bairrada, but a Regional Beira Atlântico;. It aged in new Portuguese oak casks for 9 months. The result is a very tempting wine – inviting and easy to like. Everything is in its right place; nothing stands out and nothing is out of context. Ripe striking fruit slightly rounded by the wood. With its beautiful complexity, it ads yet a light pinch of something vegetable, accompanied by spices in the background. In the mouth, the potential for food is revealed in the first sip; a healthy small speck of austerity, and fruit exploding in a long finish with a good dose of spices, where freshness makes its mark. It pleased everyone at the table, making an especially strong bond with the classic Shepherd’s Pie.

For more Quinta do Ortigão wines check Ilkka’s Sírén’s previous article here.

Contacts
Apartado 119, 3780-227 Anadia
Tel: (+351) 231 503 209
E-mail: allemos@quintadoortigao.com
Facebook: facebook.com/Quinta-do-Ortigão
Site: www.quintadoortigao.com

The 2014 whites by Caves do Solar de São Domingos

Text João Pedro de Carvalho | Translation Jani Dunne

Since 1937, the company named Caves do Solar de São Domingos has been producing bubbly wines, aguardente velha, bagaçeira (wine spirits), and Bairrada and Dão wines. Their arcades were carved into rock. It is definitely worth it to visit this wonderful hub where more than two million bottles of bubbly, many thousands of bottled wines and hundreds of small barrels are stored in French oak – for it’s infamous wine spirit.

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Solar de São Domingos – Photo Provided by Caves do Solar São de Domingos | All Rights Reserved

A few of their bubbly wines are in my list of national favourites. However, I will be focusing on the new white wines in this article, the 2014 editions that have just been launched. The 2014 harvest was tricky given the heavy rain. Those who harvested wines before the rains were lucky and got great quality white grapes. These words were repeated throughout the country, although the potential white casts of later ageing was mourned, but fortunately the early-ageing whites gave birth to high-quality wines.

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São Domingos white 2014 – Photo by João Pedro de Carvalho | All Rights Reserved

In this case, this means two whites of 2014. They are quite distinct from each other. While São Domingos is faithful to the Bairradino profile – its plot of land is mostly composed of Maria Gomes (80%) and Bical (20%) –, the grapes from S. Lourenço do Bairro, Vilarinho do Bairro and Ventosa do Bairro, grown in grounds rich in sand and clay, resulted in a white wine that is briefly passed through the cold stainless steel. Its aroma is very clean, mostly fruity, citrus, white pulp, flowers for a scented profile, creating a good environment, in the nose as well as in the mouth. A good presence in the palate, evident clean fruit; it shows some grasp with some mineral dryness in the background. A good white to have with a meal, for instance swordfish in a coal-oven or even fish soup.

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Volúpia white 2014 – Photo by João Pedro de Carvalho | All Rights Reserved

The other white is the most innovative side to this producer. Volúpia 2014 is wrapped in a poem by Florbela Espanca, from Vila Viçosa. Invoking voluptuousness and seduction, desire and flavour, the search for harmony and the pleasure of drinking a white grape. A desire to love deeply, to love for the sake of love itself, to love near or love far. That would be how Florbela Espanca would have defined this deeply poetic white wine – very sensual and bold, deeply personal and feminine. It comprises Sauvignong Blanc (50%), Chardonnay (35%) and Maria Gomes (15%) that come from Carregosa and are briefly run through stainless steel. It produces a different result, of a complex aroma but very fresh and perfumed, and with notes of very mature fruit; clean and mouth-watering. It is, most of all, a captivating wine of a delicate scent; its tasting reveals a mouth that gracefully combines volume with freshness. It has acidity and structure, it is well-able to entertain more oriental-flavoured meals, or to enhance a wide-range of tapas in a late-afternoon on a rooftop terrace.

Contacts
Caves do Solar de São Domingos, S.A.
Ferreiros – Anadia
Apartado 16
3781-909 Anadia – Portugal
Tel: (+351) 231 519 680
Fax: (+351) 231 511 269
E-mail: info@cavesaodomingos.com
Website: www.cavesaodomingos.com

The Oenosexual Wines of Quinta das Bágeiras

Text Ilkka Sirén

Bairrada might be one of the least known wine regions in Portugal. For many it’s just a blackhole on the map. People just don’t seem to know what to expect when drinking a wine from Bairrada. What makes it even more difficult is that the good wines are often not very easy to approach.

The region’s red king grape is Baga which is, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful grape varieties on planet Earth, period. When Baga is well made and slightly aged it can fool anyone in a blind tasting of being a top nebbiolo wine from Piedmont. The whites include Bical and Maria Gomes (Fernão Pires). Bairrada is also known to produce some nice sparkling wine. But if you are searching for character and don’t want to be bored to death by sterile tasting rooms there is one producer in Bairrada which is a must-visit, Quinta das Bágeiras.

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Mário Sérgio Alves Nuno – Photo by Ilkka Sirén | All Rights Reserved

Mário Sérgio Alves Nuno is the owner and winemaker extraordinaire at this unique winery. The first time I met him he sliced and diced an entire suckling pig with these big scissors in front of my eyes and served it to me as lunch. It was love at first sight. By the way, the leitão -suckling pig from Bairrada is extremely delicious. That alone is a good reason to visit the region.

Mário Sérgio produces everything from sparkling wine to reds. He also makes some kickass vinegar which he gave a bottle to me on my last visit. I recently finished the bottle and I almost cried. I need more of it as soon as possible.

His wines are known to be quite good and equipped with distinct personality. If you’re looking for easy-drinking fruit forward wines you should run screaming the other way.

The cellar is full of these tilted stacks of wine that defy gravity. But Mário’s right hand man, the dude with the funny hat, says the stacks never fall. Luckily earthquakes are rare in the area.

Bágeiras is also a part of a group of wineries called Baga Friends that consists of Buçaco, Niepoort, Filipa Pato and a few others. If you’re keen on learning more about Bairrada wines and especially the Baga variety, you should taste through the wines of this gang of talented winemakers.

blend_all_about_wine_Quinta das Bageiras2 The Oenosexual Wines of Quinta das Bágeiras The Oenosexual Wines of Quinta das Bágeiras blend all about wine Quinta das Bageiras2

Photo by Ilkka Sirén | All Rights Reserved

Quinta das Bágeiras Branco 2012 Garrafeira
The wine was quite closed at first which didn’t surprise me at all. I’ve learned to expect this kind of slow-release aromas from pretty much all of the Bágeiras wines. After 20 minutes in the glass the wine opened up and became very charming. On the palate the wine is very structured. Superb acidity and flavours of pear and citrus. Definitely an age-worthy wine that you can forget in your cellar for a while. Outstanding.

blend_all_about_wine_Quinta das Bageiras3 The Oenosexual Wines of Quinta das Bágeiras The Oenosexual Wines of Quinta das Bágeiras blend all about wine Quinta das Bageiras3

Quinta das Bágeiras Branco 2012 Garrafeira | Quinta das Bágeiras Pai Abel Branco 2010 – Photo by Ilkka Sirén | All Rights Reserved

Quinta das Bágeiras Pai Abel Branco 2010
The moment I opened the bottle I yelled “meringue!”. This wine has this unmistakable robust and voluptuous aroma that almost reminds me of some Meursault wines. Smells a bit like somebody dropped a haystack on your head and covered your body with sweet apples. Hmm, sounds like a scene from CSI. Maybe I missed my calling as a Hollywood TV writer? Again, mouthwatering acidity and some nutty flavours. The wine is quite rich in texture but in the end very fresh. It already has some age and it seems to be developing quite nicely but could still go for a decade or so.

blend_all_about_wine_Quinta das Bageiras4 The Oenosexual Wines of Quinta das Bágeiras The Oenosexual Wines of Quinta das Bágeiras blend all about wine Quinta das Bageiras4

Photo by Ilkka Sirén | All Rights Reserved

Contacts
Mário Sérgio Alves Nuno
Fogueira – 3780-523 Sangalhos
Bairrada – Portugal
Tel: +351 234 742 102
Fax: +351 234 738 117
Site: www.quintadasbageiras.pt/
Email: quintadasbageiras@mail.telepac.pt

Filipa Pato: A Wine grower, not a Winemaker

Text Sarah Ahmed

If there is a characteristic which I particularly admire in winemakers, indeed in life generally, it is open-mindedness.

A willingness to learn and grow – a humility if you like which, in my (humble) opinion, is absolutely key to the true pursuit of excellence.

It is a quality which is typified by a new generation of well-travelled Portuguese winemakers even if, like Filipa Pato, they have now firmly rooted themselves in the regional vernacular. It doesn’t get more traditional than making Baga in Bairrada!

Although Pato had the chance to study winemaking she tells me, “I preferred to learn and practice with good winemakers because, when you study too much, you are too technical and don’t have enough practical experience.”

Alive to the travel opportunities which wine presented (her father is Bairrada’s globe-trotting Baga maestro, Luis Pato), she tapped his contacts in Bordeaux, spending time at Château Cantenac Brown, Margaux. Bitten by the travel bug, she then headed to Margaret River’s Leeuwin Estate, one of Australia’s most lauded Chardonnay producers, followed by Argentina, where Pato worked for Finca Flichman.

The outcome of this “industrial espionage?” Pato says “it’s important to taste other countries’ wines so that we can understand our differences and compare prices and quality and see very well our position in the market. Where our wines sit on the world stage.” Especially where, she adds, export markets are more demanding. It’s a process she witnessed first-hand at Leeuwin Estate where, eyes widening at the memory, she recalls every day the winemaking team would taste the very best Burgundies – “not village wines, but Domaine Leflaive Batard-Montrachet Grand Cru!”

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Filipa Pato – Photo by Sarah Ahmed | All rights reserved

Though Pato is now exclusively focused on making wine for her eponymous Bairrada label, she believes “it is a great exercise to keep tasting other wines because it opens my horizons and gives me confidence in what I’m doing and a pride in our own traditions.”

Burgundy, which she visits every year, has a special place in Pato’s heart. Her eyes light up at the memory of talking grapes, vintage and winemaking with Burgundy luminaries like Eric Rousseau (Domaine Armand Rousseau). Not just because of their redoubtable skills but also, she explains, “because they have grown up in the same situation as me. They were born in the middle of the countryside and Burgundy is very similar to Bairrada with its soils [chalky clay], slopes and wineries in the midst of villages, each of which produces a different expression of wine.”

Pato’s dream is to develop a similar recognition for Bairrada’s micro-climates to which end she and her husband (renowned Belgian sommelier and restaurateur William Wouters) have leased or bought all the good old vineyards they could find.

She has even begun to create a map of its best terroirs (pictured). More importantly, explaining “I don’t like to say I’m a winemaker, I’m a wine grower who grows grapes and makes the wine,” Pato has embraced Burgundy’s culture of vignerons (or wine growers).

Impressed by their preoccupation with old vineyards and great terroir she observes, “if you go to Burgundy, vignerons spend most of the time in the vineyard.” It’s why, when the vines are asleep over winter, Pato travels while, during the growing season (March to October), she aims to be at home in Bairrada.

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Filipa Pato – Photo provided by Filipa Pato

She asserts “for me now, it is quite important to make wine in only one region, to breathe Bairrada every day and work with the same grapes and same vineyards so that, with experience and focus, I can get better every year.” And being better means producing wines which reflect their unique origin or, as her labels put it “authentic wines without make-up.”

While she says Portugal did not really have this culture of wine growers in the past or, at least it was not well regarded, Pato reckons “there is a new movement of [well regarded] vignerons in Portugal.” She adds the development is invaluable not just for wine, but because “we need wine growers and other artisans, or we won’t keep our villages; places will lose their charm.” It’s why she and Wouters are restoring an old winery in the heart of Óis do Bairro, the village where she grew up. And, of course, it means she can be close to the vines.

Here are my notes on the latest releases of Filipa Pato’s authentic wines without make-up:

Filipa Pato 3B Blanc de Blancs 2013 (Vinho)
For the first time, Pato pressed this traditional method blend of Bical and Maria Gomes with stems and this, combined with old vine fruit sourced from chalky clay soils, makes for an exceptionally fresh, precise sparkling wine. Lovely purity and persistence of perfumed pear fruit. Very good. 12.5% abv

Filipa Pato Nossa Calcário Branco 2012 (Bairrada)
This 100% Bical (tasted from magnum) is one of my favourite whites from the region (and indeed Portugal). Made from grapes sourced from Pato’s village of Óis, this complex, textural wine is aged in 500 litre French oak casks on lies with batonnage. Ripe, round creamy stone fruit is deftly balanced and teased out over a long finish by its brisk cut and thrust of grapefruity, mineral acidity. Salty, smoky nuances speak of its Atlantic chalky clay terroir. Superb. 13.5% abv

Filipa Pato FP Baga 2012 (IGP Beira Atlântico)

This is the first time Pato’s FP red (the junior red) is all about Baga (it used to include a significant percentage of Touriga Nacional to “soften” the palate). In 2012 the root to drinkability is instead achieved by a dash of co-fermented white grapes (1% Bical, 1% Maria Gomes) together with a cold soak on skins followed by a super-short, gentle 2-3 day maceration. Additionally, it sees no oak (which would add tannin), having been aged in concrete vats. It’s a delightful wine, somewhat reminiscent of Loire Cabernet Franc (of which Pato is a fan) with its crunchily fresh cinnamon-edged red cherry, plum and damson fruit and fine tannins. Uber-drinkable. 12% abv

Filipa Pato Nossa Calcário Tinto 2010 (Bairrada)
Modern in its purity, classic in its structure this 100% Baga (tasted from magnum) has crunchy but sweet, ripe red fruits, a flinty, smoky minerality and terrific freshness and persistence. Intense rather than dense, an ultra-fine sheen of tannins powders a lingering, dry but juicy long finish. Very good. 13% abv

Filipa Pato Nossa Calcário Tinto 2011 (Bairrada)
The 2011 vintage reveals riper fruits of the forest (red and black) which are well supported by more sucrous, rounded tannins. Nonetheless, very true to its roots, this is a well-structured, well-defined wine – long and persistent with a mineral-sluiced, delicately hewn finish. Very good. 13% abv

Filipa Pato Espírito de Baga Uma Saga (Vinho)
Pato has revived a Bairrada tradition which was lost in the late 18th century as a result of measures designed to protect the Port industry. Which seems a bit silly when this fortified red bears little resemblance to Port. As you’d expect given the Atlantic influence, it’s fresher and more finely wrought. Really silky, poised and persistent with succulent but well-defined black fruit, peppery lift and a long, mineral-sluiced finish. The secret to its elegant spirit integration? The spirit comes from Baga grapes from Bairrada. Unique and excellent. 17% abv

Contacts
F. Pato – Vinhos Unip Lda
Rua da Quinta Nova, s/n, 3780-017 Amoreira da Gândara.
Tel: (+351) 231596032
Email: filipa@filipapato.net
Site: www.filipapato.net