Text João Pedro de Carvalho | Translation Jani Dunne
As a productive district, the Algarve has come a long way from being virtually non-existent to a timid desire to be noticed. The investments made over the last decade have been harvesting their fruits, and nowadays, the Algarve is in fact a quality district for wine production. It’s still an orphan as far as having its own identity is concerned, which makes its wines indistinguishable from the ones in the other districts. This is its own fault and it’s up to the Algarve itself to find its own path to recognition. It’s the producers’ duty to promote their success as they did with Convento do Paraíso (Silves).
Quinta de Mata Mouros is where all the action takes place, the property of entrepreneur Vasco Pereira Coutinho, on Arade River bank, adjacent to the town of Silves. The Nossa Senhora do Paraíso Convent was built in the 12th century, after the town of Silves was conquered. 29.65 acres of vineyard freshly planted in the year 2000, where the reds Cabernet Sauvignon or Sousão and the whites Alvarinho and Arinto are budding; this is only but the fourth harvest by the joint venture commencing in 2012 between the Pereira Coutinho family and the Soares family (who own Herdade da Malhadinha Nova and Garrafeira Soares). In that cellar, two different systems are combined to achieve the same result – the traditional system resorts to wine presses and the most modern one uses cutting edge technology.
They could choose to make predictable wines, but luckily they don’t, in my opinion, and this sets the tone for the red Imprevisto 2014 (“unpredicted”), a lot composed of Touriga Nacional/Aragonez. It conveys youth with a lot of fleshy and quite succulent fruit, a lot of nerve, balancing from the sweetness of the fruit and the acidity, floral with a comforting touch of jam – quite direct and appetizing from your first sip. Next comes the Euphoria range, which reminds us of the feeling of well-being, satisfaction and joy in a rosy, a white and a red version. Three wines that follow the same standard, very clean and ripe fruit with very present aromas and, as a whole, revealing energy and a good mood. The white 2014 shines for its freshness consisting mainly of Alvarinho/Arinto, some tropical syrup involving the citrus fruit, appropriate, floral, inviting and very attractive as a whole.
As for the rosé 2014 with Touriga Nacional/Aragonez, it reveals well-shaped red fruits wrapped around a delicate perfume. Good freshness on the palate with a tasty passage and slightly dry end with good persistence. Lastly, the red 2013, which was entitled to age for 6 months in French oak casks. It comes in a more serious level where the dark and red fruit is very focused on the wild berries and mixes with a very present vegetal touch. Some soil notes and of some spice complement the set; at the bottom, the barrel embraces the whole set. In spite of still being young, this wine is already pleasant enough at the table.
Finally, it’s time for what is supposed to be a top-of-the-range wine: Convento do Paraíso 2012 is a result of the unusual lot of Cabernet Sauvignon and Sousão. Different, challenging and, at the same time charming, whether in terms of aroma or flavour. The very solid and fresh fruit combined with ripe vegetal tones, some jam and spices with a beautiful atmosphere created by the wood. Wines from a recent project that deserve to be recognised and whose quality standard – granted by the team of Herdade da Malhadinha – promise a lot of joy in the near future.