Tuesday 4th March 2014 @ Vinoteca, Beak Street, London
The UK wine trade’s favourite specialist Portuguese wine importer, Raymond Reynolds Ltd., held a couple of Portfolio wine tastings this year, one in Manchester, and the other wine tasting in Vinoteca restaurant in London – I was lucky enough to attend the tasting in London. There were a number of Portuguese producers represented from Raymond’s Portfolio and I thought I would share my highlights.
I love the Raza Vino Verde. Quinta da Raza also produce a 100% Arinto and a 100% Alvarinho (floral with a slight salty tang!) but I found myself drawn to the Raza Vinho Verde 2013 (again!). It was pale green, clear, spritzy, fresh, floral – everything that that a good Vinho Verde should be.
The Mario Gomes Espumante reminded me why I liked it the last time I tasted it, it has slightly stewed fruit notes but with good, clean and refreshing character at the same time. The most interesting wine from Pato, for me, was the Luis Pato Barrosa 2009, his top wine – 99% Baga and 1% white grape varieties including Bical – very elegant for a Portuguese red wine and not as dry as his 100 % Baga, the Vinha Pan. Luis says that 2009 was a difficult vintage for him because it was so hot, grapes were riper than usual and the alcohol crept up to 14.5% abv – when he likes to around 13.5% abv for all his wines. Having said that the Barrosa certainly had a good, viscous mouthfeel to it!
The surprise wine for me here was the Contraste Branco 2012, a blend of Rabigato, Códega do Larinho, Códega and Viosinho, 30% Barrel Fermented. It was aromatic and fresh with good citrus notes and plenty of minerality. The Conceito Bastardo 2012 was also very good – I always describe it as a “Portuguese Barolo” – deceptively light in colour, lots of dried fruits, liquorice but very pure and elegant at the same time. I have written about this before -read more about Conceito Bastardo here. Rita’s top red wine, the Conceito Tinto 2011, was also very good – sourced from 80 year old vines, 50% aged in new French oak barrels.
Luis Lourenco – Quinta dos Roques / Quinta das Maias – Dao
What surprised me most at this wine tasting most were the white wines. The organic Quinta das Maias Branco 2012 and the Quinta dos Roques Encruzado 2012 were both particularly good. The Quinta das Maias Branco is a blend of Malvasia Fina, Cercial (Sercial), Verdelho and Encruzado and is a fresh citrus-y style with a good mineral background. The Quinta dos Roques Encruzado (100%) was a revelation – it oak aged, 65% in new French oak, bit the oak is perfectly well-balanced with the Encruzado’s fruity, citrus-y notes. The Quinta das Maias Tinto 2012 is always superb value for money (around £10 bottle), the 2012 is no exception.
Luisa Olazabal & Pedro – Quinta do Vale Meao – Douro
No surprise that the Quinta do Vale Meao 2011 was one of my favourite red wines of the wine tasting – it is always superb and 2011 seems to have been a very good vintage for them – it was packed with black fruit, milk chocolate, vanilla, dried fruit – with power and finesse at the same time. I had not tried the Quinta do Vale Meao Vintage Port before, needless to say the 2011 Port was excellent too – dark black / purple with hints of clove, prune, black fruit and a hint of smokiness on the nose. The palate it broad, plump and very well-balanced with hints of spicy liquorice. It would have been good to try this up against the other 2011 Vintage Ports.
Felipa Silva – Monte de Peceguina / Malhadinha Nova – Alentejo
The Malhadinha Nova Branco 2011 was a surprise – almost Burgundian in style – A Chardonnnay / Arinto / Viognier blend aged for 7 months in French oak. Rich, full-bodied with very well integrated oak. The Malhadinha Nova Tinto 2010 is a Alicante Bouschet, Tinta Miúda, Touriga Nacional and Cabernet Sauvignon blend aged for 17 months in oak – if the white reminded me of Burgundy, this was almost Bordeaux like with its herbaceous, blackcurrant character and toasty oak.
Nick Delaforce – Niepoort Vinhos – Douro
Nick Delaforce is the Port winemaker at Niepoort, he is also responsible for making the hugely successful Niepoort Drink Me. Four Niepoort Ports were the highlights of the wine tasting for me – the Tawny Dee, the Senior, the new Niepoort Crusted Port bottling and Niepoort Colheita 2001. Tawny Dee is a young Tawny Port which is a little bit older than their basic Tawny and is aged around 3 to 3.5 years age with a higher proportion of reserve wines. I love this Tawny because it is not very Tawny like!! It is still very red, fruity and very vibrant. The Niepoort Senior Tawny Port is around 7 to 7.5 years old and has really started to develop much more Tawny character, it is sweet and nutty with dried fruit, prunes, raisins and a lengthy spicy, tobacco-y finish.Very good stuff.
The star Port for me though was the new Niepoort Crusted Port. Dirk Niepoort only released his first Crusted Port in around 2009 and it was a blend of 2003 and 2005 vintage Ports bottled in 2007. This second bottling is a blend of mainly 2008 (80%) and 2007 vintage Ports and was bottled in 2011. It had a brilliant, dark ruby colour. The nose was packed full of blackberry and plum notes and the finish was full, with silky tannins, elegance and purity. Superb stuff, I can’t wait to get hold of some of this.
I was probably most surprised by the quality of the white wines. I have always been a fan of Portuguese red wines and these have been at the forefront of the development of Portuguese wines in the UK, quite naturally following on from Port. Perhaps the white wines have taken a bit of a back seat to the red wines in the past but, from what I have tried recently, they seem to be catching up rapidly. They are also made from unusual, indigenous grape varietes – Bical, Malvasia Fina, Arinto, Alvarinho et al. – great for the ABC (Anything But Chardonnay) crowd. It was also good to bump into Ben from Bat and Bottle Wine and finally put a face to the tweets of The Wine Detective a.k.a. Sarah Ahmed (@sarahwine).