Posts Tagged : Wines

Wines José de Sousa, prestige and history

Text Bruno Mendes

The dream of producing Alentejo wine using traditional winemaking methods from an estate with history and prestige led José Maria da Fonseca to buy Casa Agrícola José de Sousa Rosado Fernandes, located in the heart of Alentejo, Reguengos de Monsaraz. A house that in terms of wine producing already knows the turning of 3 centuries.

For a more detailed information of the wines José de Sousa you can read the previously written article by João Pedro de Carvalho here.

If you’re looking to know more about other wines from José Maria da Fonseca you can also see the article written by João Barbosa here.

In the old wine cellar we can find clay amphoras where the wines spend some part of their fermentation process, an ancient technique of winemaking inherited from the romans. The modern wine cellar is equipped with cutting edge technology where a talented and demanding team gives life to wines with vibrant personality, sofistication and nobility.

The wines José de Sousa seek to combine modernity with the rigor of tradition, reflecting Alentejo’s light and sun’s heat.

All this with more detail in the video below:

Soalheiro, Oppaco and Terramatter

Text João Pedro de Carvalho | Translation Jani Dunne

The first parcel of a single hectare (2.5 acres) of Alvarinho grapes was born in Melgaço to João António Cerdeira, in 1974.  Time went by and, today, the Alvarinho grape variety covers 25 acres and is now supervised by the children: Luís and Maria João Cerdeira. For more than 25 years, this brand has been present at the table, maintaining this Alvarinho’s praiseworthy consistency and storing potential, vintage after vintage. As years ran by, several new products were made available to the customer. These wines are almost always seen as an experiment/innovation when first released onto the market, yet they shortly turn into great specimens. This happened with Primeiras Vinhas, and Reserva, which are both specimens that raise the Alvarinho variety to the levels of the best in Portugal.

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Quinta de Soalheiro – Photo Provided by Quinta de Soalheiro | All Rights Reserved

In fact, these wines need and even enjoy a little ageing time in the bottle; for example, the Alvarinho Soalheiro is one I only like to open after it ages for two years inside the bottle. However, if we look at vintages such as the 2007, or even earlier vintages, they confirm that we can forget about the Alvarinho Soalheiro for a while and it won’t be the slightest bit upset. Primeiras Vinhas and Reserva are on the same path, proving that the people at Adega do Soalheiro know how to educate a wine with such an intent.

The new facilities are where the creative process continues. New products echo from consumer to consumer and, for now, two new wines have just been released. The first, named Terramatter, is made with the 2014 vintage, an Alvarinho of an earlier vintage with no filtration and prone to sediment, whose ageing is done mostly in chestnut casks (traditional in the Minho region). The hue is slightly heavier than the house’s usual. There is something more closed-in about the notable aromatic precision we are used to in this producer in all his wines. It’s dense, of good volume on the mouth and with a lot of elegance and freshness, a slight silky sensation. A strong mineral aftertaste in the background in a tasteful and refreshing sip. In my view, it is still very young and it will be quite interesting to study its evolution; that is if they made enough bottles for that.

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Terramater Alvarinho 2014 – Photo by João Pedro de Carvalho | All Rights Reserved

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Oppaco Vinhão e Alvarinho red 2013 – Photo by João Pedro de Carvalho | All Rights Reserved

The other novelty is the first Soalheiro red, called Oppaco, a 2013 vintage based on the Vinhão and Alvarinho varieties. Once again, the keyword is innovation, because this is the first wine of the region made from a mix of red and white grapes. As a result, the wine combines the rusticity of the Vinhão variety, which is tamed by the freshness and elegance that the Alvarinho variety exhibits in Luís Cerdeira’s hands. A very refreshing blend altogether, clean and defined aromas, the rusticity is felt in a mix of very present fruit that reveals a very young and lively blend at the same time. Different and having a mind of its own, an original personality that requires food at an arm’s reach, from Galo de Cabidela [cockerel rice] to Rojões [pork cubes] à Moda do Minho [Minho-style].

Contacts
Alvaredo . Melgaço
4960-010 Alvaredo
Tel: (+351) 251 416 769
Fax: (+351) 251 416 771
Email: quinta@soalheiro.com
Website: www.soalheiro.com

Chili con vino (Esporão)

Text Ilkka Sirén

“What do you eat in Finland?” That’s a question I hear a lot. People wait me to give all kinds of exotic answers like that I eat raw bear meat and I have my own moose that I ride to work every day. It’s not quite like that. We have plenty of traditional dishes but most of them we might eat once a year. We don’t have a thing like bacalhau in Portugal that we eat almost daily or at least weekly. Finns do not generally use a lot of spices in their food and to be honest the food here can be sometimes quite bland. On the other hand people here really appreciate the natural flavors of good ingredients. Vegetables, roots, berries and mushrooms are some of the most treasured things here in the cold north. But as a fan of for example Thai and Vietnamese cuisine I enjoy strong savory foods with a bit of heat.

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Swirl – Photo by Ilkka Sirén | All Rights Reserved

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Tortilla – Photo by Ilkka Sirén | All Rights Reserved

Now that we are on our way towards another harsh winter we sit and wait for the leaves to fall and cover everything with beautiful colors. The transition from summer to autumn in Finland is swift. As we speak the nights are getting colder and who knows, we might have first snow next month already. Indeed summer is just a distant dream at this point. This translates directly into one’s kitchen, especially mine. Not only that I start cooking up hearty dishes and pickling literally everything, I also see autumn in my personal drink selection. But let’s come back to that later.

Tortillas, tacos, burritos and carnitas are far from being authentic Finnish cuisine but I must say that I’m a fan. Tortilla itself, the thin flatbread, is merely an elaborate vehicle for all things delicious; in this case a fiery habanero and naga jolokia chili con carne. Even though the infamous naga jolokia chili is about 400 times hotter than Tabasco sauce the idea is not to nuke your palate. I’m keen to create a balanced, powerful but most of all flavorful sauce. I don’t always succeed.

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Esporão Reserva 2011 – Photo by Ilkka Sirén | All Rights Reserved

The question is what to serve with this kind of dish? My natural impulse was “go beer or go home”. Beer, yes, it’s definitely the easiest match but there must be something else. Many would have gone with an off-dry white, a riesling perhaps. The sweetness balancing the heat of the chili and so on. Sure, that could work but for this particular occasion it was too elegant. Tortillas are all but elegant. They are sloppy, messy and delicious. I wanted something with proper cojones. Enter Esporão Reserva 2011. A sturdy blend of Alicante Bouschet, Aragonês, Cabernet Sauvignon and Trincadeira. Black and dense like the tree on the label. A godsend for our cold dark nights. Esporão Reserva 2011 is definitely a wine you can and should forget in your basement for a year or twelve but with the spicy chili con carne the match was brilliant. At first I thought it would be an assault on the senses. Well, there was a lot of action on the palate when this ample Alentejano collided with the chili. But when the dust settled there was a tasty and slightly surprising marriage of flavors. If you are not used to chili the combination might be overwhelming but if you love chili like I do you just might discover something special.

Herdade Paço do Conde, a genuine Alentejo estate

Text João Barbosa | Translation Jani Dunne

I believe we grow old, not senior, when memories frequently occur. Ouch! My back, heart and lungs let me know there’s no longer space for me in the substitutes bench of an amateur football team.

That’s life! I say this because the producer I’m introducing to you now was introduced to me on a very special occasion in my life. That doesn’t necessarily make a wine or anything else good or bad. In this case, it’s a really good wine. And why?

Because the wines that appeal to me the most have a differentiating character that can consist of various characteristics. Like every other wine, except when they have to be tested in the dark and inside immaculate rooms, affection, or rather history, weighs on my preference. What is it about this one?

It’s the origin – unthinkable until a few years ago. Baleizão is in the very heart of Baixo Alentejo (or South Alentejo), a warm, dry and ondulado (“wavy”) place. Little do we know and did we know about this village… a town with a strong political bond namely with the Communist Party. The rest of its history doesn’t matter for the moment.

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Herdade Paço do Conde “wavy” vines – Photo Provided by Herdade Paço do Conde | All Rights Reserved

What matters here is the plain. This ondulado part of Alentejo, green in the spring, golden with ripe wheat, and still golden from leftover straw after the harvest. This is Alentejo where the heat is even hotter. Wine? Well, until the phylloxera crisis in the 19th century, vineyards grew all about, even though scarcely in some spots. The aphid infestation arrived and the vines didn’t grow back.

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Herdade Paço do Conde – Photo Provided by Herdade Paço do Conde | All Rights Reserved

Herdade Paço do Conde is in that warm field. It’s natural to imagine the heat, however, presuming that the wine comes out like soup or jam is incorrect. Know-how and commitment allow for great results in “unexpected” places.

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The olive grove near the Guadiana river – Photo Provided by Herdade Paço do Conde | All Rights Reserved

This property has the advantage of being close to Rio Guadiana (Guadiana River), which provides water and freshness. However, you can’t demand that wines portray their surroundings, which would be a bad sign, as it goes against the gift of nature.

It’s 7166.05 acres, in which 370.65 are growing vines. The olive grove takes up 2718 acres, with the traditional cultivars of the region and some other exotic ones: arbequina, azeiteira, cobrançosa, frantoio, galega (the Queen cultivar almost all over the country, with a soft and sweet character), and picual.

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Team – Photo Provided by Herdade Paço do Conde | All Rights Reserved

The head of oenology is Rui Reguinga, an expert who knows Alentejo very well, and who has enough imagination to create new formulae. Now, because of those characteristics, these wines are not oenologist wines; on the contrary, the “alchemist” becomes the author by allowing the producer and his wine to be in the limelight and speak for themselves.

I tried several wines by this producer during his presentation in Restaurant Eleven, in Lisbon. He nailed it! Connect the wine with food and you’ll understand it better. To start, Herdade Paço do Conde white 2014 was poured, accompanied by an octopus carpaccio and orange vinaigrette. Since I don’t eat fish, I am not aware of the liaison myself, only from what I was told. If it’s able to resist the vinaigrette, it means it has fresh fibre. Seeing as I get ‘mad’ when I’m poured Antão Vaz, my opinion goes off the rail. I didn’t fall for it, but it’s my own fault. The other varieties that make up the lot are Arinto and Verdelho.

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Herdade Paço do Conde white 2014 – Photo Provided by Herdade Paço do Conde | All Rights Reserved

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Herdade Paço do Conde Reserva red – Photo Provided by Herdade Paço do Conde | All Rights Reserved

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Herdade Paço do Conde Winemakers Selection red 2011 – Photo Provided by Herdade Paço do Conde | All Rights Reserved

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Herdade Paço do Conde Olive Oil – Photo Provided by Herdade Paço do Conde | All Rights Reserved

Herdade Paço do Conde Reserva 2014 is a proper red, excellent for escorting the strongest and best-seasoned food in Alentejo.

Eleven manager, Joachim Koerper, decided to jump barriers with his shoelaces tied up. And he did it! Confit suckling pig with tomato and passion fruit chutney put obvious and exotic together. Two wines and two matches to remember: Herdade Paço do Conde Reserva Red 2011 and Herdade Paço do Conde Winemakers Selection 2011 (red). Acidic, sweet and fat… so different and so recommendable, these connections!

The dessert was a variation of a Black Forest, and it proved that a red wine is very well able to make it until the end of a meal. In this case, Herdade Paço do Conde Colheita Seleccionada 2013.

Contacts
Monte Paço do Conde,
Apartado 25, 7801-901 Baleizão – Beja – Portugal
Tel: (+351) 284 924 416
Fax: (+351) 284 924 417
Email: geral@encostadoguadiana.com
Website: www.pacodoconde.com

Quinta do Cardo, Organic Wines

Text João Pedro de Carvalho | Translation Jani Dunne

Beira Interior, inland province in the centre of Portugal, has a winegrowing history dating back to the Romans. This region has about 39,537 acres of vineyards, and offers a wide range of varieties, with particular reference to white varieties Síria, Fonte Cal, Malvasia and Arinto, and to the red ones, Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca and Tinta Roriz. The wines in this region are under the mountain’s influence, which is between 1300 and 2460 feet high, almost entirely covered in granitic soil, the rest being mostly schist.

Quinta do Cardo belongs to Companhia das Quintas Group and is near a small inland town called Figueira de Castelo Rodrigo, Guarda district, in the north of Portugal. From its foundation in the beginning of the 20th century until 1988, it was owned by a local family whose surname was Maia, and who devoted their time to breeding cattle and making cheese; wine production was a minor business. The name ‘Quinta do Cardo’ is inspired by the wide areas of thistle (the milk variety) growing in the property, which were used in the cheese manufacture. In a total amount of 444.78 acres of land, 170.5 of them host vines 2460 feet from the ground; the rest is a large reserve of cork trees and aboriginal forest.

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Quinta do Cardo Síria 2014 – Photo by João Pedro de Carvalho | All Rights Reserved

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Quinta do Cardo Bruto Touriga Nacional 2010 – Photo by João Pedro de Carvalho | All Rights Reserved

The 2014 harvest sets the date when the range of organic wines in Quinta do Carmo was released. The complete 170.5 acres are now organic. The new Quinta do Cardo Siria 2014 comes from this harvest and has, in a way, been bearing the standard for white wines in the district. It’s a far-famed wine, mostly owed to the unique characteristics it usually features. The label also makes a difference, and we must say that both the new label and the wine feature many beautiful details. A refreshing wine, mineral (flint), of a floral perfume; it feels tense and sturdy, lemon, lime, apple, and lovely freshness. On the mouth, it’s slightly oily in the beginning, but quickly fades into a delicious flavour, coming to a finish of predominantly mineral austerity.

On the other hand, I would also like to highlight the first sparkling wine launched by Quinta do Cardo, Quinta do Cardo Bruto Touriga Nacional 2010, entitled to age in the bottle for 36 months; it saw its first degorgement in July 2014. Strong aromas of strawberry and raspberry, a light floral, and biscuit in a delicate and beautiful atmosphere. A beautiful performance on the mouth, the fruit determining the rhythm with the presence of good acidity, it reveals pleasant dryness in a persistent finish.

My legs aren’t tired from walking round Dão yet

Text João Barbosa | Translation Jani Dunne

I started walking along the Dão, but because the roads are so long, I didn’t make it to my destination without taking a weeklong break. As I mentioned earlier, my second revelation was a party with many high-ranking officials.

That took place in 2010, when João Tavares de Pina threw an event attended by many producers of great quality wines. This farmer called it “Dão – The Next Big Thing”.

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Dão Expressions in cvrdao.pt

I have nothing to teach the managers of Comissão Vitivinícola Regional do Dão (Dão Regional Viticulture Commission), but I think this moment should be repeated in order to create a wave of acknowledgement… perhaps with a contest, debates and international critics.

It was some rendezvous. A true gathering. A proper gathering, due to the variety and quality presented. If I did take notes, I can’t remember where I placed the list of all the producer’s details, but there were many. As with everything else, I have memorised some of them because I liked them.

One example was the wine by the host and organiser. The wines of Terra de Tavares; very vibrant, authentic, with a “terroir” character – this word is bound to become common due to constant usurping, which is not the case here.

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Terras de Tavares, João Tavares de Pina – Photo by João Pedro de Carvalho | All Rights Reserved

Another great find were the wines by Casa de Darei, more elegant than the former, but also very special and true to their roots. But the greater spectacle happened in the quaint Clube de Viseu, in its ball room.

The best moment was when wines from Centro de Estudos Vitivinícolas do Dão (Centre for Dão Wine Growing Studies) were served. This centre is found in Quinta da Cal, in county Nelas. The old whites, namely those of 1980 and 1981, were fit as fiddles. Reds from the 70s felt even younger.

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Solar do Vinho Dão (CVR Dão) cvrdao.pt

A good friend told me he drank a few “century-old” nectars by UDACA (“União Das Adegas Cooperativas da Região Demarcada do Dão”, Union of the Wine Growing Co-operatives of the Dão Demarcated Region), which made him rethink his earlier assertion that only liked young wines. Unfortunately, those make it down my throat.

My memory of Dão was formed almost of thin air, as I revealed in the first part of this trip down memory lane. Until very late, I only knew about old brands of Dão wines, such as Porta de Cavaleiros, Dão Pipas, Grão Vasco, Meia Encosta, São Domingos, Messias and Borges… I think that’s all.

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Once in the 90s decade, I was introduced to excellent nectars, boasting farm names where they grew, a natural process due to the decline of the region’s cooperatives. Since then, the list has expanded. Knowing I will be unfair by involuntary omission, I must cite – besides the already mentioned – red and white pearls: Quinta dos Roques, Quinta da Vegia, Quinta da Passarela, Paço dos Cunhas de Santar, Quinta de Carvalhais, Casa de Mouraz, Quinta da Falorca, Duque de Viseu, Pedra Cancela, Pedro & Inês, Quinta da Fata, Quinta de Saes, Quinta da Pellada, Quinta do Perdigão, Quinta de Carvalhais and… “Inexplicably” sorted by memory, not hierarchy.

As with everything else, there aren’t only wonders. Still, the darkness of it isn’t absolute either – fortunately. One day, embraced by the Dão charm, I stumbled upon a wine by Adega Cooperativa de Penalva do Castelo. It was a terrible experience. Emphasys on “was”. Currently, what that cooperative cellar has been producing makes up for its past.

I had a mentor in journalism who never tired of complimenting my ability to summarise. In these articles, though I don’t need to keep the news short… I’m not able to say everything I would like to say about Dão.

Please be patient, there’s more to come next week.

The Gold Seekers: Portuguese Wine Under The Microscope

Text Sarah Ahmed

Since 2011, it has been my great privilege to Chair the Portugal panel at Decanter World Wine Awards (“DWWA”), which lays claim to being the world’s largest and most influential wine competition. There were over 16,000 entries this year, 730 from Portugal (excluding Port and Madeira); you can catch up with the results on Decanter’s website on 14 June.

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Going for Gold: The A Team, Decanter World Wine Awards 2015 – Photo by Sarah Ahmed | All Rights Reserved

Judged by experts in their field, each year my distinguished panel includes key opinion formers and fellow champions of Portuguese wines.  This year, I took the opportunity to sound out their views on how Portuguese wine is performing in their market (principally the UK, which is widely regarded as a shop window for the world). My contributions come from:

  • Danny Cameron, Director of UK-based specialist Portuguese importer Raymond Reynolds, who work with some of the best known premium producers in the business.
  • Nick Oakley, founder of UK-based specialist Portuguese importer Oakley Wine Agencies, who have counted almost all of the multiple supermarkets as clients.
  • Jo Locke, Master of Wine and Portugal buyer at UK mail order/online retailer The Wine Society, who have most deservedly received multiple awards for their Portuguese list.
  • Anne Forrest, former Portugal buyer for Direct Wines now Oporto-based Director at Vinos Sin Fronteras, Lda, a specialist wine export and consultancy business.
  • Claudio Martins, UK-based former sommelier/Manager, New Street Wine Shop, now Wine Director, Montevino Partners Wine Merchants.
  • Madeleine Stenwreth Master of Wine, Swedish-based freelance wine consultant specialising in product development, blending, quality and style strategy.
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Nick Oakley, Claudio Martins, Madeleine Stenwreth Master of Wine, Decanter World Wine Awards 2015 – Photo by Sarah Ahmed | All Rights Reserved

Have you noticed an increase in the sales, quality and range of Portuguese wines and, if so, what?

Danny Cameron: In the UK, I see the sales’ sweet spot in retail between £8 and £15. Since the lovely Lehmann Bros did their thing [the global financial crisis], the market for high end Portugal has struggled, even for some of the iconic labels. This suggests that Portugal is not yet fully trusted by these potential consumers, who in recessions typically default to what they consider safe choices.

Nick Oakley:  Yes, plenty.  We are aiming for 20% growth in volume, even more in value.  We are on target after 4 months.

Jo Locke MW:  Yes, we have seen an increase in sales, largely due to increased focus on the region (dedicated sales activity and greater presence in standard mailings), but also thanks to now regular tastings of Portuguese wines.

Anne Forrest: We have certainly noticed an increase in sales in the last year, particularly with a marked growth in the fortified sector of ‘special categories’ ie. not just basic Ruby, Tawny, White Port. There is a lot of interest from small and large retailers alike in finding something really special which delivers the ‘wow’ factor to customers when they have the first sip. Aged Colheitas, Tawnies and Moscatel de Setubal have been proving surprisingly popular. We have also noticed growth in Vinho Verde and wines labelled by single varietal or leading strongly with the region on the label.

Claudio Martins: There is a new wave of Portuguese wines in the UK for sure, wine lists in restaurants are increasing their offers with wines from Minho, Douro, Alentejo and some Dão wines with a different price category which is great.  The consumer is more aware of Portuguese wines nowadays.

Madeleine Stenwreth MW: Quality is constantly improving; the trade knows it, but consumers still have to be even more convinced that they can trust the origin before they fully dare to go down that route. It’s not easy to grab the consumers’ attention unless the wines are sold under a well-respected/well-known brand, possibly even signed off by the winemaker (João Portugal Ramos being a case in point) to create that trust that Portugal still needs to build. Wines are constantly launched but there is no real staying power on the shelf. The category is too fragmented and complicated for consumers to get their head around what you can expect from the different regions. This means consumers need a trusted brand to hang on to. I think there is a problem with too many names that say nothing to the consumers.

Which categories of Portuguese wine (by style, region, variety) are proving most popular with consumers? 

Danny Cameron: In marketing terms, the regions who have invested more or less in promoting their region seem to be yielding results.

Nick Oakley: Dão, Douro and Vinho Verde (new wave single varietal).  The Dão has been particularly successful in all categories – independents, supermarkets, online and on trade/restaurants (via wholesalers).  For Vinho Verde, single varietals Arinto and Avesso have been successful so far, joining Alvarinho.  There’s no reason that Loureiro should not join them.

Jo Locke MW: Vinho Verde is the current star, at all price levels.

Anne Forrest: Dão is selling really well at the moment with both red and white blends proving popular. As a region, Dão seems to be gaining more and more traction as styles are quite consistent across brands and customers are confident to make repeat purchases as they know they will like what they get in the bottle. It also offers good value for money and just enough complexity to keep customers intrigued and wanting more.

Claudio Martins: Wines from Minho for sure and Douro reds are still pretty much the demand of the normal clientele in a wine shop or restaurant.

Madeleine Stenwreth MW: Reds of commercial quality with obvious fruit concentration yet with attractive soft, rounded tannins and drinkability with or without being accompanied by food.

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Beatriz Machado, Nick Oakley, Claudio Martins, Decanter World Wine Awards 2015 – Photo by Sarah Ahmed | All Rights Reserved

Which categories (by style, region, variety) most impress you; where do you expect to see further growth?

Nick Oakley: For me Dão is the biggest story, and my favourite area.  One extra is that we have developed a ‘Californian lookalikey red’, with 14 grams of sugar, in the style of Apothik.  It’s called Wolf & Falcon and it’s been developed by Laithwaites.  Here I think it is wine style and branding that have won out over provenance.

Jo Locke MW: VinhoVerde has further potential; Dão seems to be under represented and could and should do more.

Anne Forrest: Alentejo is the region which has most impressed me this year. This is the region that the Portuguese love to drink from and it seems to have a great emotional pull for Portuguese customers choosing wine to drink at home or in restaurants. There is a lot of competition on the domestic market with many up and coming brands / wineries which are fighting to establish themselves and this is driving the quality upwards. Alentejo is starting to gain reputation abroad and I think it will eventually come to be viewed as ‘a safe bet’ by customers in the UK and elsewhere with a small number of really top producers leading the way.

Claudio Martins: Dão wines have so much to offer and the Touriga Nacional in the region has what UK clients are looking for. I expect to see more growth in Lisbon wines – if they do a good marketing campaign for the UK market I believe people will start to recognise the wines.

Madeleine Stenwreth MW: Well-made reds with a flirty commercial edge while maintaining a purity and honesty of fruit. The Douro has come so far. Alentejo has dared to move away from having been overripe, clumsy and over-oaked with issues of dying young in bottle. At the top end, a very few have understood that you can come a very long way with elegance without being lean.  As for whites, the highs at DWWA were definitely some of the whites [watch out for the DWWA results].  World class stuff!

Blend-All-About-Wine-Gold-Seekers-Going-for-Gold-Anne-Forrest-Matthieu-Longuere-Master-Sommelier-Jo-Locke-Master-of-Wine The Gold Seekers: Portuguese Wine Under The Microscope The Gold Seekers: Portuguese Wine Under The Microscope Blend All About Wine Gold Seekers Going for Gold Anne Forrest Matthieu Longuere Master Sommelier Jo Locke Master of Wine

Anne Forrest, Matthieu Longuere Master Sommelier, Jo Locke Master of Wine, Decanter World Wine Awards 2015 – Photo by Sarah Ahmed | All Rights Reserved

Where do you think there is scope for improvement?

Danny Cameron: I think the overall quality of packaging of Portuguese wines is 100% better than a few years ago. But the country is still short of potentially major brands which can perform in the UK market.

Nick Oakley: tannin management in the south.  Labelling by appellation, rather than brand (like in France).  This is working in the Dão. At the moment you have thousands of brands trying to get noticed and no-one succeeding. Let’s label Dão as Dão and Douro as Douro, forget the branding – or at least diminish its importance. Only this way will the buying public get to know the wines.

Jo Locke MW: Corks are the number one issue by far. How is it that Portugal produces so much yet reserves the worst for itself? The number of top wines with poor corks is shocking and does nothing for her reputation.  Rosé is not taken seriously but I see no reason why Portugal could not produce lots of good examples. For us the good dry rosé market is still dominated by the south of France and need not be.  Oh, and the small issue of self-belief!!

Anne Forrest: A little bit more self belief would go a long way I think! The producers who are really getting out there, not taking a back seat, meeting customers, finding out about the markets and actively promoting their wines are finding routes to market. I think Portugal is on the right track so let’s just have more of the same please!!

Claudio Martins: Marketing actions, consumer tastings, consumer tastings, consumer tastings, it’s the only way to get Portugal on the map for UK consumers, the trade knows already the potential of the wines and the quality but the consumer needs to ask for it.

Madeleine Stenwreth MW: Design is so important and this together with good wine and continued generic educational efforts will help Portugal progress in the right direction. João Portugal.Ramos is an example of constantly working on improving quality and style, very alert on packaging upgrade to keep the consumer happy and never disappoints. Consistency is key for long term shelf life.

To conclude, fellow writer Jane MacQuitty joined my panel for one day again this year; she has been the wine and drink correspondent for The Times since the 1980s.  This is what she had to say, “[A]s you know, I am a big fan of Portuguese wine, but I still feel that the country is the dark horse of Europe with bags of potential in the shape of oodles of indigenous grape varieties, plenty of unique regional and other wine styles. Vinho Verde is I think tip for the top, but I feel that the Dao both white and red will produce lots of wow wines in the future. All in all, Portugal just needs to hurry up and join the 21st Century.”

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!”

Blend-All-About-Wine-Caves-Sao-Domingos-Aguardente 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

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.

Blend-All-About-Wine-Caves-Sao-Domingos-Prestigious-Brandies 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 Prestigious Brandies

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.

Blend-All-About-Wine-Caves-Sao-Domingos-Modern-Cellar 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 Modern Cellar

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.

Blend-All-About-Wine-Caves-Sao-Domingos-Traditional-Riddling-Wine-Racks 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 Traditional Riddling Wine Racks

Traditional Riddling Wine Racks © Blend All About Wine, Lda

Blend-All-About-Wine-Caves-Sao-Domingos-Modern-Method-of-Remuage 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 Modern Method of Remuage

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.

Blend-All-About-Wine-Caves-Sao-Domingos-Demi-Johns 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 Demi Johns

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

Blend-All-About-Wine-Caves-Sao-Domingos-Cuvée-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 Cuv  e Brute 2011

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

Blend-All-About-Wine-Caves-Sao-Domingos-Citric-Suggestions 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 Citric Suggestions

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.

Blend-All-About-Wine-Marques-de-Marialva-Adega-de-Cantanhede The two Arinto wines by Marquês de Marialva The two Arinto wines by Marquês de Marialva Blend All About Wine Marques de Marialva Adega de Cantanhede

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.

Blend-All-About-Wine-Marques-de-Marialva-Reserva-Arinto-2013 The two Arinto wines by Marquês de Marialva The two Arinto wines by Marquês de Marialva Blend All About Wine Marques de Marialva Reserva Arinto 2013

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.

Blend-All-About-Wine-Marques-de-Marialva-Grande-Reserva-Arinto-2014 The two Arinto wines by Marquês de Marialva The two Arinto wines by Marquês de Marialva Blend All About Wine Marques de Marialva Grande Reserva Arinto 2014

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 Pessegueiro Presents Its New Goods

Text João Barbosa | Translation Jani Dunne

Humanity is thankful for how much of “the best wine in the world” there is. Between independent countries, very autonomous territories and unrecognised states, one can count 197 countries. Amongst the latter, perhaps Santa Sé is singled out for not having a single vine, or for not producing even one quarter of a litre of wine.

In total, there must be one million of “the best wine in the world”, a democratic title. From farmers with as little as 0.50 acres of land and “the purest wine” to a tycoon with money to spare, both can make some.

One man – who stood up to life and came out winning – has a much more sensible ambition: to make one of the best wines in the Douro Valley. I am thinking of Roger Zannier. He has made a fortune in the clothing industry, he respects and appreciates wine, and he has another piece of land in France, in Côtes de ProvenceChâteau Saint-Maur (Cru Classe).

Contrary to others, including those applying to be the makers of “the best wine in the world”, Roger Zannier is not in a hurry. He has set a deadline – not yesterday nor tomorrow, a healthy eight years from now – which puts the pressure on.

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Roger Zannier – Photo by Nuno Teixeira in mariajoaodealmeida.com

He hasn’t hired a “flying oenologist”, but someone youthful, who brings in fresh blood, renowned skills and expertise in the region. Hence, João Nicolau de Almeida (son) is in charge of the project.

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João Nicolau de Almeida in facebook.com/pages/Quinta-do-Pessegueiro/381339061883836

The company has presented its wines in Lisbon: Aluzé White 2013, Aluzé Red 2011, Quinta do Pessegueiro Red 2011 and Quinta do Pessegueiro Vintage Port 2012. They have reached a goal not easy for many: connecting all of their wines to a particular feature; a transverse profile that breathes the spirit of the house.

Blend-All-About-Wine-The-Wines Quinta do Pessegueiro Presents Its New Goods Quinta do Pessegueiro Presents Its New Goods Blend All About Wine The Wines

Aluzé White 2013, Aluzé Red 2011, Quinta do Pessegueiro Red 2011 and Quinta do Pessegueiro Vintage Port 2012 in facebook.com/pages/Quinta-do-Pessegueiro/381339061883836

The aromatic freshness is a common feature to all. In the mouth, that pleasant feeling lingers, adding to it – the almost compulsory – great elegance, with depth and persistence. The four table wines require food. Judging by its elegance and softness, I believe sophisticated cuisine will do it justice. Not to imply that local cuisine would be unsuitable. What the wine intends to express is the mix of these nectars, comprising the Douro DNA, delicacies and genetics common to all, albeit developed in a quaint fashion.

Although a plate of food must sit beside a glass of this wine, Aluzé make excellent company when all you feel like is a chat…

João Nicolau de Almeida made his big entrance by bottling his first vintage. Quinta de Pessegueiro Vintage Port 2012 is doing very well. However, there is a long way to go. The world won’t end tomorrow, and besides, vintage wines are nature’s whims, not man’s will… There is plenty of time, one must know to rise to the occasion.

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Quinta do Pessegueiro in quintadopessegueiro.com

One good point is the architectural quality of the buildings, the restoration of the house and the new cellar, with the touch of architects Artur Miranda and Jacques Bec. This is not just a detail! The functional buildings – whether for accommodation, passing wine tourism, hospitality, catering or manufacturing – they act as a business card.

Unfortunately, only a few producers invest in good architecture. There is no need to hire Norman Foster, Frank Ghery, Santiago Calatrava or Siza Vieira; many Portuguese architects, even young ones, are very able to design unique pieces. Another lesson by Roger Zannier.

Contacts
Quinta do Pessegueiro
Sociedade Agrícola e Comercial, Lda
5130-114 Ervedosa do Douro, Portugal
Tel : (+351) 254 422 081
Fax : (+351) 254 422 078
E-mail: quintadopessegueiro@zannier.com
Website: www.quintadopessegueiro.com