Posts Tagged : João Barbosa

Papa Figos white 2015 and Papa Figos red 2014

Text João Barbosa | Translation Bruno Ferreira

The repetition of words or Latin rhymes always makes me think of magic. I do not know what books I’ve been reading or movies I’ve been watching. Well, here goes:

– Oriolus oriolus.

It’s the Latin name of orioles (papa-figos), a beautiful common bird of Europe that can even be seen in a part of Asia, flies to Kazakhstan and Mongolia.

It is a little bird with friendly air that my urban eyes cannot identify without the help of those who know. In addition to being friendly it is also beautiful. I’m not an ornithologist and let’s leave it at that because the topic is not about birds.

The Papa Figos are a couple of Douro wines. A few days ago Casa Ferreirinha (Sogrape) presented the new editions. The white is from 2015 and the red is from 2014. If the orioles are a joy to behold, the Papa Figos give a good gastronomic pleasure.

When I say gastronomic I’m not simply refering to the table, but to the whole gastro meaning. A greek word that means stomach. Today I look like a sage. I have written Latin and now Greek.

That is, both the red as the white (especially this one) are desirable in the summer. But I have to make a warning. The red has an alcohol content of 13.5%. At this time of the year, which asks for lighter foods and the beach asks for dives, I recommend caution.

It’s a red that has natural freshness, something we already know can deceive us. Moreover, in the heat, when it’s easy for the wines to become soup they should be freshened up. I usually leave them cooler than the usually recommended 16 degrees. This is because they heat up fast. Though the night may be the most suitable time of the day, the summer is often unfair to oenophiles.

Back to the reason why I said that it is globally gastronomic. It’s because it is easy to drink on one of those conversation nights with no set time to finish. During the vacation, whenever I can I relax with friends I cannot always hang out with during the work weeks, due to the short hours.

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Papa Figos red – Photo Provided by Sogrape | All Rights Reserved

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Papa Figos white – Photo Provided by Sogrape | All Rights Reserved

The white is more restrained regarding alcohol. It has a healthy 12.5%. And to think that not many years ago the products let the whites’ vintages skid. This is not me saying that they should always have low alcohol volume, because there are nectars that are looking good.

There is one more reason as to why this wine fell on my grace: The Touriga Franca, omnipresent, or almost, in the Douro reds. Here represents 30% of the blend. The Tinta Barroca has the same percentage and the Tinta Roriz 15%. The Touriga Nacional (I prefer the Douro one compared to the Dão), provides a sweet tooth that I appreciate, without ever making it cloying. It’s sober and represents 15%.

The grapes came from the Douro Superior and were grown mainly on slopes facing north and higher up in the mountain. The maceration is done in stainless steel vats as well as the alcoholic fermentation. A forth of the batch aged for eight months in French oak barrels. The bottling took place a year after the grape harvest.

The white was made with the grape varieties Rabigato (50%), Viosinho (20%), Arinto (18%) and Moscatel Galego (5%). The fruit came also from the Douro Superior, at high areas. A fifth of the batch aged for three months in used barrels of French oak. The remainder was kept in stainless steel tanks.

And that’s it! Good vacation to anyone going and the continuation of good working days for those staying.

Pouca Roupa 2015 wines

Text João Barbosa | Translation Bruno Ferreira

The sun already warms up and my desire to throw myself into the sea is such that … well! How to write this without sounding like I took too much heat in the head?… The three wines are called Pouca Roupa (Barely Clothed)… the most pop brand of Portuguese wines!

The moment that I received them for tasting I could not control the brain, which began singing “Pop muzik”, M’s success of 1979, the British band of disco sound and new wave pop. It was no accident! That year there was a commercial on television, animated by the song, in which a girl was successively unzipping the pants she had dressed on her, and they seemed not to end … Pouca Roupa (Barely Clothed)!

There’s no need to call Sigmund Freud in order to understand this association. But the frenzied spirit of freedom and enjoyment of the disc sound easily takes over the mood. I found myself as a mental disc jockey and passing over to Patrick Hernandez, with the “Born to be alive.”

I won’t continue enumerating the successes hits I sang as I wrote this text. What I can say is that it is impossible to stop a resolute summer! I demand dancing evenings on the beach!

The brand doesn’t always fit the product, whether it be by incompetence or ruse. But it’s not the case. The Pouca Roupa wines want the summer – I had already said it about a year ago and I repeat it. There are three, each with a color.

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Pouca Roupa white 2015 – Photo Provided by João Portugal Ramos | All Rights Reserved

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Pouca Roupa rosé 2015 – Photo Provided by João Portugal Ramos | All Rights Reserved

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Pouca Roupa red 2015 – Photo Provided by João Portugal Ramos | All Rights Reserved

The Pouca Roupa white 2015 is fresh as a penguin… it’s sweet tooth and friendly, with a weight 12,5. It was made with Sauvignon Blanc, Verdelho and Viosinho grapes. It is a direct shot to fun and goes well with food, talk or dance.

Pouca Roupa rosé 2015 is sneaky. The Aragonês, Cabernet Sauvignon and Touriga Nacional blend masks its nature. Were it not moderated in its alcohol weight, 12.5%, and it would be a serious case. It’s a sweet tooth wine and a good company for conversation and party.

The Pouca Roupa red 2015 requires a greater care, because the alcohol content rises to 14 degrees. It’s a blend of Alfrocheiro, Alicante Bouschet and Touriga Nacional. This one requires food on the plate.

Three restless Alentejo wines. Pop! Pop! Pop muzik! Pop! Pop! Pop muzik!

Esporão – Monte Velho red 2015 and Quinta dos Murças Reserva 2011

Text João Barbosa | Translation Bruno Ferreira

The Alentejo and the Douro regions are two of the most renowned Portuguese wine regions. More than looking at the sales numbers, which can hide arguments about preferences, the live voice says a lot about the reasons of the choices.

Here, in these two regions, are produced wines easy to please, and that’s no motive for censorship … yes, as in almost everything, there are defenders that say that only the difficult, angular, complicated or eccentric things are good. So, for me, the easiness of liking is not synonymous of poor quality or pleasure incompatibility.

Companies exist to make profit, and naturally many firms produce in these two regions or at least market with their own brand wine that they purchase on one of them. The Esporão is one of the companies that advanced from the plains to the mountains.

The Esporão is a project of anticipation. Joaquim Bandeira realized the potential of the region, that at the time was very focused on cereal and cork production. José Roquette understood the vision and went with the idea.

Its foundation happened in 1972 and the venture would eventually be postponed due to the Reforma Agrária (Agrarian reform), Marxist-inspired, which took place after the 25 April 1974 revolution. After the revolutionary period and the entrance in the then European Economic Community (1986), came the calm period that allowed the economy to proceed smoothly.

The Herdade do Esporão in Reguengos de Monsaraz, was restored in 1979. The winery was only completed in 1985, the year in which the first wine was released, and whose label features a John Hogan painting.

Ever since that first wine that the firm illustrates each vintage with artistic works. The principle has been followed since the Quinta dos Murtas’ first edition, located in the Douro, where photography is the art chosen.

Art is not the Esporão’s sole eccentricity. The firm has adopted a sustainable agriculture policy, with recovery of watercourses, soils, flora and fauna – something that has also helped saving in pesticides.

Another madness was the new winery, built in the traditional mud system, which allows the building’s climate control without having to resort to demanding and costly refrigeration appliances.

Another oddity is the respect for the historical heritage, the preservation of a medieval tower, an arch and a Renaissance chapel, and the excavation of a vast archaeological area with remains of up to 3,000 years before Christ.

These crazy things – synonyms that I left unquoted for more creasing – are called respect and intelligence. Respect for nature and the ancestral wisdom and intelligence because they result in cost savings.

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Monte Velho red 2015 – Photo Provided by Esporão | All Rights Reserved

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Quinta dos Murças Reserva 2011 – Photo Provided by Esporão | All Rights Reserved

Now that the company Esporão is presented, let’s advance to the two wines that justify this text. The Monte Velho red 2015 (Regional Alentejo) and Quinta dos Murças Reserva 2011 (Douro).

The Monte Velho red 2015 marks the 25th anniversary of the brand and the label is illustrated with a pattern of Alentejo traditional blankets. This wine was made with Aragonês, Trincadeira, Touriga nacional and Syrah grapes.

It is a wine to be drunk casually. It’s not a big wine, a nectar for special occasions. It can be classified as a safe bet, because vintage after vintage remains in a regular level of quality.

The Quinta dos Murças Reserva 2011 is more demanding. It’s a blend of Tinta Roriz, Tinta Amarela, Tinta Barroca, Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Sousão and some more that the producer does not mention specifically. Grapes from vines with over 40 years. The fruit was foot treaded in granite lagares and in a vertical press. It aged one year in barrels of French and American oak.

It’s a nectar that shows the Douro and wants food to eat slowly. It’s from the 2011 vintage, a year of excellence in the country and in the region. To be drank before the arrival of the tremendous nights of heat of summer. Or wait for cooler times.

Herdade do Esporão
Apartado 31,
Reguengos de Monsaraz, Évora – Alentejo
Tel: (+351) 266 509 280
Fax: 351 266 519 753

Monte da Ravasqueira presents Summer collection and also…

Text João Barbosa | Translation Bruno Ferreira

Returning to Ravasqueira is a pleasure. The property is beautiful, imposing and well arranged. I went back there this Spring and I saw, for the first time, the buffer coupling car collection, all in immaculate condition, the oldest being from the eighteenth century.

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The buffer coupling car collection – Photo Provided by Monte da Ravasqueira | All Rights Reserved

The wine was, again, the reason for this visit. The offer is already broad. This time I got to know novelties and I was introduced to new editions of some references, such as Monte da Ravasqueira Vinha das Romãs. Since summer is upon us, comes the pretext of telling about the suggestions of this Arraiolos firm.

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Monte da Ravasqueira Vinha das Romãs – Photo Provided by Monte da Ravasqueira | All Rights Reserved

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Monte da Ravasqueira Syrah + Viognier 2015 – Photo Provided by Monte da Ravasqueira | All Rights Reserved

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Monte da Ravasqueira Viognier 2013 – Photo Provided by Monte da Ravasqueira | All Rights Reserved

The Syrah grape variety and the Alentejo have a long and happy love relationship. The same happens with the Viognier. The Monte da Ravasqueira Syrah + Viognier 2015 was made with the grapes mixed during fermentation, in the fashion of Côtes du Rhône. The Monte da Ravasqueira Viognier 2013 is in the form of sin. It’s confirmed the mutual passion between the land and these grapes.

As for the summer, this house features two whites and one rosé, all from the year 2015 and demanding sand and salt water, shade and pool, living and grills.

The Monte da Ravasqueira Sauvignon Blanc 2015 is fresh and the citric character seasons the grape variety’s tropicality. Feels good and is great for the conversations of the endless afternoons.

The Monte da Ravasqueira white 2015 is more complex and more interesting. The winemaker Pedro Gonçalves Pereira created a ball of Alvarinho, Arinto, Semillon and Viognier. The grape varieties complete themselves rather than trampling each other. It’s good to drink by itself, but the ideal is to have it with food.

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Monte da Ravasqueira Sauvignon Blanc 2015 – Photo Provided by Monte da Ravasqueira | All Rights Reserved

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Monte da Ravasqueira white 2015 – Photo Provided by Monte da Ravasqueira | All Rights Reserved

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Monte da Ravasqueira Rosé 2015 – Photo Provided by Monte da Ravasqueira | All Rights Reserved

But the one that delighted me the most was the Monte da Ravasqueira Rosé 2015, made with the Aragonês and Syrah grape varities. This one wants to party! Asks for conversation, food and pool jumps.

Did I say findings? Yes, I did say. Touriga Franca and Sangiovese.

Touriga Franca in Alentejo? Sangiovese in Alentejo? Yes, it’s true. The adaptability of the first outside of the Douro is a rarity. At least, a clearly positive result. The second one is a rarity in Portugal. However…

However, at Monte da Ravasqueira in Arraiolos, the two varieties are grown and have already given grapes for wine, both are from 2012. At the lunch table, Pedro de Mello and Filipe de Mello asked by desires. Once the requests were made, came the bottles.

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Monte da Ravasqueira SG 2012 – Photo Provided by Monte da Ravasqueira | All Rights Reserved

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Monte da Ravasqueira TF 2012 – Photo Provided by Monte da Ravasqueira | All Rights Reserved

The Monte da Ravasqueira SG 2012 is stunning. Also stunning is the Monte da Ravasqueira TF 2012. One thing leads to another, and we took advantage of the absence of the winemaker to play of sorcerer’s apprentice. The blend was made by eye with 70% Sangiovese and 30% Touriga Franca. I think adding 5% to the Italian and removing from the Portuguese will make the wine better.

But, my business is not oenology… I leave a pungent appeal: Pedro Gonçalves Pereira think about it! Make 1,000 bottles and I’ll buy them all! Since I mentioned it… it never hurts to hear “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice”, symphonic poem by Paul Dukas inspired by a work of Johann von Goethe. By the way, watch or rewatch “Fantasia”, the animated film that Disney made in 1940, based on the work of this French composer of the nineteenth century, in which Mickey Mouse plays the role of a wayward youth.

Monte da Ravasqueira
7040-121 Arraiolos
Tel: (+351) 266 490 200
Fax: (+351) 266 490 219

Quinta do Gradil

Text João Barbosa | Translation Bruno Ferreira

In December, children write to Santa Claus to tell him they behaved well during the year and ask for gifts. I no longer have the age for that! Nowadays I write to the summer and ask to have a few quiet days with sun, during the its period of governance.

Instead of toys, I ask to have wines to comfort me while I convince myself that the summer will be eternal and that I’m still able to swim across the Sesimbra Bay. I’ll write here about some wines from Quinta do Gradil that I have in the bag.

Quinta do Gradil is located in Cadaval, in the Lisbon wine region. The property is very old and had several distinguished owners, the first was Marquês de Pombal (The Marquis of Pombal). In total it has 123 hectares of vineyards and nowadays is birthplace of several wines.

The oenology is in charge of António Ventura and Vera Moreira. I have often expressed my admiration for this oenologist, who is perhaps the one that produces more liters of wine in Portugal. What impresses me here is the way the grape varieties differentiate themselves while keeping their identity … how many times do we find equal wines of different grape varieties? Therefore, here, there is an added didactic value, features that help understanding the grape varieties.

António Ventura completed 32 years working in Quinta do Gradil. He says that 2015 was a good year for reds in this property.

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Mula Velha Rosé 2015 and Mula Velha Reserva White 2015 – Photo Provided by Quinta do Gradil | All Rights Reserved

The Mula Velha Rosé 2015 is dangerous! In the good sense. It was made with Castelão and Tinta Roriz grapes and has an acidity recommended for lighter fare of summer. As for me, I think it works best as a company for the carefree conversations during the vacation…

The Mula Velha Reserva White 2015 was made with Arinto and Fernão Pires grapes, and some Chardonnay grapes. This one is a good friend of summer foods.

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Quinta do Gradil Viosinho 2015 – Photo Provided by Quinta do Gradil | All Rights Reserved

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Quinta do Gradil Sauvignon Blanc e Arinto 2015 – Photo Provided by Quinta do Gradil | All Rights Reserved

The Quinta do Gradil Viosinho 2015 is the summer in a bottle. Very fresh, brings together mineral and tropical characteristics. It has the “grace” of being done with an improbable variety. There is no record of this Douro grape variety going so far south the country. It is a wine to accompany conversation and shellfish.

The Quinta do Gradil Sauvignon Blanc e Arinto 2015 is almost a classic. It is known that these two grape varieties work well together, and this producer early found the right formula. As the previous wine, it is a wine to accompany conversation and shellfish.

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Quinta do Gradil Chardonnay 2015 – Photo Provided by Quinta do Gradil | All Rights Reserved

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Quinta do Gradil Rosé Syrah e Touriga Nacional 2015 – Photo Provided by Quinta do Gradil | All Rights Reserved

The Quinta do Gradil Chardonnay 2015… Oh man! I really enjoyed it. It is unctuous and complex, with structure, it’s not heavy or cloying. To me, the wines of this property are always a good company for a conversation. This one likes to be at the table and is a good match for poultry meat.

The Quinta do Gradil Rosé Syrah e Touriga Nacional 2015 is a wine for… the table and banter. Beautiful.

Estrada Nacional 115 Vilar
2550 – 073 Vilar | Cadaval
Tel: (+351) 262 770 000
Fax: (+351) 262 777 007
Mobile: +351 917 791 974

Quinta de Foz de Arouce and Buçaco – Two battles and two wines

Text João Barbosa | Translation Bruno Ferreira

I promised myself to write this chronic a long time ago. But, since nothing happened that would make it an emergency I was postponing it. Now has come the time that makes it urgent. The matter concerns two iconic wines from ‘unlikely’ and ‘impossible’ locations.

One was made with grapes from an absolutely magical place, which is located nowhere. Foz de Arouce does not have the right to use any designation of origin. Silly things of the Portuguese, who are able to accept the unification of locations in one region even though they look nothing alike and aren’t contiguous…

If it was in France, an inescapable reference in the recognition of quality and differentiation, Foz de Arouce would have the status of the Burgundy micro-regions. It would probably be a ‘monopoly’. But the Arouce River is located in Portugal, as is the Ceira, who receives it.

The other wine refers to a concrete place, but one that is not a wine location. The Bussaco (with two ‘s’) is beautiful and has one of Portugal’s most beautiful and historic hotels. However, the grapes that make their wines are from Bairrada and Dão. Now, this makes one plus one equals zero – having no right to use the designation of origin.

Though the wines are made with the grape varieties Baga from Bairrada and Touriga Nacional from the Dão, the Buçaco wines (with «Ç», so that it does not conflict with the bureaucratic dictates) are wines that can be said to mirror their territory because the vines have been the same throughout the years. It is as if they came from a single Quinta, divided by two specific regions. Authenticity and charisma abound.

Allowing myself to push the concept out of the established, I say Bussaco is a terroir of cellar and bottle. I will assume as true the geographical location of the hotel. And so, these are two vinous places that are in a plasma dimension – neither solid nor liquid.

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Bussaco in

Looking at the map, Bussaco and Foz de Arouce are not far from each other, just 36 kilometers. The path is beautiful and the road demands attention. The computer says that the trip between the two places takes 50 minutes. However, it took me more than an hour when I visited the two places in 2011.

I mentioned that the Buçaco red wines are made with Baga and Touriga Nacional. That is because Foz de Arouce’s vine consists of those grape varieties. The winemaker and wine entrepreneur João Portugal Ramos is son in law of the Counts of Foz de Arouce and a few years ago he added the Touriga Nacional to the plantation that consisted only of Baga. The Quinta de Foz de Arouce Vinhas Velhas de Santa Maria remains the same, while the Quinta de Foz de Arouce is now a result of the two grape varieties’ merging.

I’ve already praised Foz de Arouce’s wines here. What I bring today is a special and commemorative edition. It’s a 2007 wine, produced to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Foz de Arouce in which stood out a family member of current Count.

The Battle of Foz de Arouce was not a moment of transcendent importance in the context of the Peninsular War (III French Invasion). Some even just designate it as Fight of Foz de Arouce. It happened on 15 March 1811 when the Napoleonic army was retreating, pressed by the Anglo-Portuguese forces. Leading the allies was Arthur Wellesley (the future Duke of Wellington) and leading the invaders was Michel Ney.

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Arthur Wellesley by George Dawe

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Andrè Massèna by Edme-Adolphe Fontaine

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Monument to the III French Invasion in

Bussaco was also source to the name of a confrontation of the Peninsular War, with greater importance. It happened on September 27, 1810 and leading the Anglo-Portuguese side was Arthur Wellesley, and leading the French was the commander of the III French Invasion, Andrè Massèna.

The Allies came out victorious in both clashes. As for the wines, those who have the opportunity to have them do not hesitate. Face them and let yourself be conquered. They will win and the oenophiles will deserve them.

I notice I’m evoking a specific wine of a particular year and another wine of which I haven’t even mentioned the year. I’ll add “all” Foz de Arouce wines and “all” Buçaco wines to the list. And why? Because they are all wines that deserve to be known, and that keep (obviously I haven’t drunk all the vintages, but I’ve came across many) their physical identity characteristics and differentiation of years. They are nectars able to evolve over time and to live long. This generalization is conscious and voluntary.

I am averse to the list of descriptors, as for me, it just sums up the wine to a “thing”, because it becomes reductive. The “small wines” don’t surprise in the definitions and “great wines” surprass that characteristics’ counting.

The Quinta de Foz de Arouce – Batalha de Foz de Arouce 200 years (2007) has in it what its siblings Quinta de Foz de Arouce and Quinta de Foz de Arouce Vinhas Velhas de Santa Maria have. The wine is more than the grapes, it is “that place”. Fortunately it’s not the same, as otherwise it would not be worth having another name, there would only be difference in the label. I drank it and I would keep drinking it longer had not the bottle only 0,75 liters. It has many years ahead.

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Quinta de Foz de Arouce Batalha de Foz de Arouce 200 years

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Buçaco L2004 Reservado

The Buçaco L2004 Reservado has the greatness it’s expected to have. Great in all aspects, alive and elegant, with many years ahead. The bottle had the same problem as the above: only 0,75 liters.

By the way, I’ll explain the “L2004 Reservado” reference: because it is a table wine, supposedly the lowest category in the scale, this Buçaco could not carry its year indication. However, the description of the blend could be whichever one that the producer wanted. So, these nectars blends have the same numbering of the vintage year to which they correspond. Bureaucracy is not an exact science, it is often just stupid. Intelligence wins. Why can’t the table wine be “reserva”? But once again the bureaucrat was dribbled, the term ‘reservado’ is not covered by the objections.

And like this, a bit of Portugal’s history was told.

Wine Snob

Text João Barbosa | Translation Bruno Ferreira

Boring people are boring! People Who want to be boring can manage to be boring. Being boring is probably one of the few things that does not require having a proper education, family or genes. The talent in being boring does not imply having talent.

Now, being a snob is something different! If a boring person is an expert, the snob is boring person with a PhD. A snob can go for hours talking about the nuances of fishes’ livers, the evolution of the aesthetics of the Maserati’s rims or the green’s importance in the Islamic culture. For a snob, the Goldberg Variations by Glenn Gould are mundane.

Above all … or below all … a snob is an arrogant. No gentleman belittles or brags. So, a snob is someone without nobility – sine nobilitate, the Latin phrase from which came the English word.

This is because in wine there are boring persons and snobs … the boring ones are fun in the taverns and the snobs are unbearable in the lounges. In the taverns it’s no big deal to change places or flee, in more formal environments it’s not quite the same.

It sounds simple, but I’ll complicate it. I believe no one has the right to impose their tastes and concepts. However, differences between individuals can be large and the breakdown is inevitable. Other people don’t have to see the Touriga Franca as the world’s best, as I am not obliged to like the Antão Vaz.

A few days ago I tasted wines with people of different nationalities and I realized that besides the banalities that set quality standards, nothing was converging the noses and mouths. The problem wasn’t in recognizing the quality or the lack of it, but in the difference of the attributes that separate a well-made wine from a good or excellent wine.

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Tasting Rosé in

A rosé should be sweet? A rosé should be sweet and have no acidity? A rosé must have, above all, acidity? They may seem silly questions, but it was a present subject. I am not the owner of reason and the opponents weren’t foolish or ignorant. They were people used to tasting and justified their statements.

We, the Portuguese, have the craze to praise our wines because they accompany well the food and have acidity. Is this an advantage? We say it is … and if we just want to chat the night away, will we insist on the obligation of acidity? However, is a syrup happy in softening a dialogue?

We, the Portuguese, have the craze to praise a lot the fruity character of our wines … but … is it an advantage? Honestly, the fruit often tires me and if it’s to taste like fruit, then I’ll drink juice – makes me want to scream.

This said debate did not end with the rosés. This episode was just the best illustration of translation of crib, latitude, longitude and culture (ethnic sense). But I can add information from another conversation.

When we value or penalize a wine by its color, are we being fair or accurate? I’ll get around reds and whites … Is a rosé better or worse if it’s pink, salmon or orange? Is the color important or not? Or does the wine give pleasure through the senses of smell and taste and we just like to add things that are not connected?

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Rosé wine colors in

I have even heard, more than once, that the wine is fantastic, because it appeals to all the senses. Smell? Right! Palate? Right! Tact? Yes, in the mouth it shows roughness and softness … Eyesight? It has color, so you can see it looks good. Hearing? … We can hear the cork pop out.

I swear! I’ve heard this feat more than once. I have to say that I don’t hold myself of happiness and joy when I hear the sound of a cork popping… It’s me with the cork and Pavlov’s dog with the bell! Quite frankly! And the color? Honestly, I only care for it while serving, to indicate the health of the wine. Debating color tones is as useful as knowing Pantone color references.

Ah! The color of the Pinot Noirs… which ones? From Burgundy or Tejo? Wine is for the nose and the mouth! I think debating the color of the wine – excluding the visual assessment that lets you know the wine’s sanity – is like discussing skin tones.

I don’t have knowledge or time to discuss the differences or variations of the grape varieties according to their location. Neither for certainties about the immutability of the characteristics of the wines of each region. The boring person knows everything, including the things that doesn’t know. The snob knows and thinks he knows everything, or at least more than others.

In the end only one outcome is enough for me: pleasure. Either I had it or not. Fortunately, the mentioned conversations weren’t with boring people or snobs. What could have been a nightmare was a learning experience. The truth does not change, but because the points of view vary, the knowledge is diverse.

I still do not like sweet rosés without acidity. But now I know that compared with a sweetened soda this wine can be fantastic.

PS: I was a Snob before, now I’m just boring!

Portuguese Wine – Fashion or Justice?

Text João Barbosa | Translation Bruno Ferreira

It seems that not a day goes by without the Portuguese gastronomy being news subject, positively, whether referring to food or wine – mainly the drink. In the view of this, how do I feel like being Portuguese? I don’t know and the reason is because I don’t know whether to attribute this to fashion or justice.

Those reading will say:

– How do you not know? You ought to know. If you write about wine it is mandatory for you to know.

True! But there is always a parallax error, the result of affection and memory. The subjectivity that dictates that the mother’s food is the best in the world or that the Portuguese national team deserves, right from the first game, to win the football championship.

I’m not a fanatic, but my roots are in Portugal. Of course I think the highlight that the country is having on gastronomy has more of justice than fashion. There is certainly evaluation error, although hopefully reduced.

Being fashionable is good! It cheers up, provides self-esteem, gives notoriety. However, it’s something passenger. If something is always in fashion it’s because it’s not about fashion, instead it means quality in abundance.

Fashion is cyclical and the quality is structural. So, those inspired by recognition just have to keep insisting in the search of quality differentiation. In this way it will get an increased value.

That’s why I do not like to hear that saying something has a good relationship between price and quality. I do not see that as something praising, although the majority of people consider that that means a good opportunity or justice.

Paying ten cents for a hectoliter is a good relationship between quality and price? IT IS! It is because, regardless of quality, anyone who takes the opportunity will make money with it. But that does not mean the wine has quality… of course not. The problem is that the premise isn’t that, but a balance between one thing and the other.

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Wine in

I want Portuguese wine to get the reputation of the French or Italian wine – just to cite two examples. Producing well is within reach of those who engage, and getting it done cheap is within reach of those who get afflicted workers.

Obviously, expensive does not mean quality. Moreover, no one likes to feel stupid, so paying 50 euros per 0.75 liters of swill will be a once in a lifetime episode. Justice is at the point where a product is sold at the same price that another with comparable quality.

Having a “good relationship between quality and price” can helpful initially and relieve pressure on the treasury. In the medium term it becomes unfair. If I still haven’t convinced the reader, I have the ultimate argument:

Portugal turnovers more with fruit and vegetables than with wine. This means that the added value (VAT) is not paid fairly. Generalizing and assuming that the cost of land is comparable and that the factors of production are comparable, it’s way more profitable to make sprouts than wine. There are no expenses with the oenology or with longer storage and the tied in capital is much smaller.

Back to the beginning, Portuguese wine has been recognized and in various ways. Of all the news, I value those that do not address the price factor. I refer to the critic’s assessments, with qualitative scores only, or to victories in prestigious competitions.

People will say that great wines, those that cost about the same as a small car of the city, do not enter the competition, so the victories are relative. Of course, those who have something to lose do not go into play. The new arrivals are the ones that must show worthiness. Young riders challenge the great lords.

It is said that “he who sings scares away his woes”, but the music has been rough to the Portuguese. In 48 editions of Eurovision Festival, in which Portugal failed only four editions, Portuguese musicians never managed to go beyond the sixth place – Lúcia Moniz in 1996 with “O meu coração não tem cor” (My heart has no color).

The fault lies with the dictatorship, but the young democracy was not awarded. Because Portugal buys few television programs, but other small countries buy the same and have won. Because the Portuguese language is difficult, but Brazil is a musical superpower … almost anything goes to justify the defeats.

While the Portuguese music doesn’t win the Eurovision Festival and the lusophone literature does not reach the more than fair second Nobel Prize, the wine gives us encouragement, soothing the sorrows.

Let the lasting recognition come. And I’m almost certain that when the Portuguese winemakers manage to solidify the reputation, the gastronomy (some signs are already emerging) will become ‘mandatory’, which will take critics of the red book – not the one of the Maoism, but the one of the tires – to post stars in houses that have earned the right to bear them for many years now.

Escondido 2012 – a Lisbon gentleman

Text João Barbosa | Translation Bruno Ferreira

There are people who need several lives. One of them is Aníbal Coutinho, who is not satisfied with only one task. He sings in the Gulbenkian Choir, he’s vintner, a oenologist, a consultant in Continente’s wine area, a wine critic and author of wine and food tours, and he worked as a sommelier in Jacinto restaurant in Lisbon. All these activities allow him to have a wide view over wine.

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Aníbal Coutinho – Photo Provided by Aníbal Coutinho | All Rights Reserved

Now matters his most personal wine. More personal, because the vines that give the fruit are at the family’s estate where he spends the holidays. The first Escondido to be revealed was the 2006 vintage. This is the fourth that has been revealed to the world.

The reason because only 4 editions were shown along the ten years is related to the fact that this wine is a project that, while not being a game, lives around the family and the time available for field work.

It’s not a game! Aníbal Coutinho takes it very seriously, in terms of personal, professional and obviously financial investment. Moreover, it is a high quality wine. If the agriculture, meteorology and the day-to-day work do not cooperate, Escondido stays home.

Besides the family, there are two other major contributors: Vera Moreira and António Ventura, winemakers of the Parras Group. Here I have to put a sign! António Ventura is one of the Portuguese winemakers for whom I have great respect. He’s a Sir who handles many million liters. His goldsmith oenology is always impressive, but the sheer volume of work requires accuracy and concentration that not everyone knows how to do.

The vineyard, with 15 years, is located in the football field used in family games … a football field that does not have the maximum dimensions, which are around one hectare. It has the minimum 0,4 hectares. But Aníbal Coutinho ensures that is not even enough for indoor soccer.

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The Vineyard – Photo Provided by Aníbal Coutinho | All Rights Reserved

Well, it might not be possible to fit 22 players and four referees there, but the Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Touriga Nacional grape varieties surely can. This choice of frape varieties is related to the Atlantic climate characteristics of the property. Aníbal Coutinho got inspired in Bordeaux and its vineyards, he says. The second last named variety, originating from the Côtes du Rhône, is planted inside the vineyard, in order to get shelter.

The land, with clay-limestone soil, is located in Olelas, between Sabugo and Almargem do Bispo, in the municipality of Sintra, near Lisbon. As the crow flies, the sea is between 10 to 15 kilometers, says Aníbal Coutinho. This ocean proximity has caused unpleasantnesses … an oversight and there go the grapes. Moreover, treatments are not made, which makes the grapes even more vulnerable. That is the reason why in ten years only four vintages were made public.

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The Vineyard – Photo Provided by Aníbal Coutinho | All Rights Reserved

Escondido 2012 aged for 24 months in wood, splitted into a used French oak barrel and a used American oak barrel for 15 months, and a new American oak barrel for the remaining nine months of the second year.

For historical reasons, and certainly also by religious influence, the Portuguese are afraid of the word luxury. But things are what they are. The Escondido is a luxury wine! Receives all the cares needed to be a luxury, it has the required great quality and quantity is small. If the agricultural year is lost or if the quality does not reach the level that the producer wants, the wine is to be drunk only by family and friends. The Escondido 2012 had a production of 500 bottles of 0,75 liters and 100 magnum bottles.

The location’s freshness can be felt on the glass. It’s a wine asking to be drunk at the table, around a substantial dish. It is to be drunk very slowly. The Escondido 2012 that I was shown at Jacinto restaurant was joined by a Cozido á Portuguesa. A very successful combination, because it is a wide diversity meal of meat and vegetables, which cannot be eaten in five minutes.

One aspect to note is that, although it handles perfectly a heavy dish, Escondido 2012 is not a winter wine. I would not drink it with a salad, but it does not require to be served when fat food reigns at the tables. It is a fresh and complex wine with great elegance and a long finish. It evolves very well over the course of the meal.

It has time to live and everything needed for a long life in the bottle. I do not venture myself in guessing deadlines, but as for longevity, Aníbal Coutinho thinks it can grow up to 20 years.

The presentation of an old producer – Quinta Dona Matilde

Text João Barbosa | Translation Bruno Ferreira

At every curve of the Douro there seems to exist a Quinta or a special location. It’s a river with charisma, a valley where nature and man have joined in creation. In the twists and turns, heights and riverbanks, in the way of facing the sun and in the wide range of varieties is written a great book. Not everything deserves to be character or chapter, but it’s a sheaf.

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Quinta Dona Matilde – Photo Provided by Quinta Dona Matilde | All Rights Reserved

The Quinta Dona Matilde has the right to enter history. If I use the book picture is because there’s a plot about this property. This domain belonged for four generations, to the Barros family, who bought it in 1927.

In May 2006, Manuel Ângelo Barros sold the Barros Group to Sogevinus Group. Quinta Dona Matilde was in the package along with the other assets. However, the wine is an imp and soon started to pester the entrepreneur who had sold the property.

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Quinta Dona Matilde – Photo Provided by Quinta Dona Matilde | All Rights Reserved

Thus, Manuel Ângelo Barros and his family decided they had to go back to the wine. So many turns and they ended up buying back Quinta Dona Matilde at the end of 2006 – the remaining assets remained in Sogevinus.

The Quinta is located in Canelas, between Peso da Régua and Pinhão, within the initial demarcation area of Douro, established in 1756. All the wine area, 28 ha, is classified as Letra A (letter A) – the highest rank of the scoring table by the Instituto dos Vinhos do Douro e Porto – IVDP. In addition to the vineyards, Quinta Dona Matilde also has a traditional olive grove, an orchard, where stand out the lemon and orange trees, gardens and land left to nature. All this adds to the total of 93 ha.

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Quinta Dona Matilde – Photo Provided by Quinta Dona Matilde | All Rights Reserved

Port wine has always been the destination of this Quinta’s grapes. A small part wasn’t fortified, but it was only for family consumption. In the 60s, the company produced a rosé and, in the 90s, a white – but always marginal. In family reincarnation, the Douro wine production is side by side with the production of Port Wine. Currently they are selling the grapes to the group The Fladgate Partnership.

Manuel Ângelo Barros says that he in no hurry to put the wines for sale, a rare decision in Portugal. Now they presented the 2011 vintage, related to reds. The presented white is from 2015. The tradition of this house was to make tawny ports and it will be, although the manufacturing of nectars with age indication is, for now, put aside. They decided to focus on the Rubies, namely vintages. The viticulture is in charge of José Carlos Oliveira and the enology in charge João Pissarra.

Dona Matilde White 2015 is a blend made with the grape varieties Arinto, Gouveio, Rabigato and Viosinho. The grapes were pressed and the wine was fermented in stainless steel vats.

Because of the mountainous terrain and a river cutting it, the Douro region is generous in variety of features. However, this wine surprised me, because I never would say that this is a nectar from this region.

I’m not a fan of making a sensory descriptors list, but it is justified to do so now, so that I can tell why I do not find the Douro in this white. It’s a wine where tropical fruit scents prevail, especially pineapple and passion fruit, combined with anise, a pinch of fennel, mandarin and a little lemon. In the mouth, the tropical nature stands out. It goes on and on and with freshness too.

And this that I’ve just written is good or bad? It’s a well-made wine – good! In terms of personal taste, it does not satisfy me. Then I wonder if this tropical and unpredictable profile is natural or if it was a will of the winemaker and the producer. If it’s solely the result of nature, I won’t speak a word. If it is intentional, I say I can see the reason for the Douro to produce wines with this profile.

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The Wines – Photo Provided by Quinta Dona Matilde | All Rights Reserved

The Dona Matilde Red 2011 is clearly a Douro and exemplary of the year. It’s a blend of Tinta Amarela, Touriga Franca and Touriga Nacional – all from old vines, as indicates the producer. Part of the grapes were trodden in lagares. The wine aged for a year in wood. It’s sweet tooth without being sweet, soft, fresh and has good mouth-time. Minty aroma and a very smooth smoked holm oak firewood. Beautiful!

Dona Matilde Reserva Red 2011 is a blend in which the Touriga Nacional represents 50%. Then we have Touriga Franca (30%) and a bouquet of various other, mixed in an old vine, where the Tinta Amerela prevails. Part of the grapes were trodden in granite lagares. The wine aged 18 months in new French oak barrels.

It’s the Douro well shown: rock rose, mint, wood and holm oak wood smoke, black plum, blackberry jam, strawberry jam (calm and soft), figs, a little of blond tobacco and shale – all happily married. In the mouth continues to be Douro, fully occupies the space, smooth, with tannins laughing (without biting the skin), fresh and dry, long and deep.

Before moving to the generous wine, I want to note that these three wines ask for table. The reds give hopes of good evolution in the bottle.

The Quinta Dona Matilde Porto Colheita 2008 is not an ordinary tawny, halfway Ruby. It’s the result of less time of aging in wood. Three years in oak barrels and four in barrels of 600 liters.

It’s a happy and pleasant surprise wine. It has what is expected of a tawny and resembles a ruby. There are dried fruit, caramel, vanilla and a pinch of iodine. Along with the blackberry, plum, cherry, and strawberry jams… It’s deep and dense, long.

The Quinta Dona Matilde Vintage 2011 is further proof that the year was very generous to the Portuguese winemakers. It’s a blend of Tinta Amarela, Tinta Barroca, Rufete, Touriga Franca and Touriga Nacional. The wine aged two years in oak barrels, having then been bottled. There are again the many jams that liven up the vintage, from the nose to the mouth – deep and long.

The new Vintages are what they are, but they will also be something else. They should be drunk now or be saved? I do not know! I do not know if I’m alive tomorrow. I know that if I stay awake for more years, the wine will be better. Those who can, drink and save it.

Quinta D. Matilde
5050-445 Canelas PRG