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22 May 2010

Focus on Portugal: Douro - Alentejo - Algarve...

Focus on Portugal: Douro, Alentejo, Algarve and beyond

Over 50 smouldering Atlantic wines reviewed including a fascinating "Douro masterclass" with its diverse white, red, pink & Port styles... eight featured producers from the Douro, Alentejo and Algarve plus the odd Vinho Verde thrown in too. Best wines: Crasto, Favaios, Graham's, Duorum, Lagos, Outeiro Mouro, São Miguel, Quevedo, Dona Matilde. More detailed Portuguese winery "profiles" are here.

"The Douro from nose to tail..."

A masterclass with Sarah Ahmed at the London Wine Fair May 2010. (That link goes to her website, the Wine Detective: Sarah was 2009 "Portuguese Wine Writer of the Year." Click here for more generic info on the region on the IVDP's site (Port Wine Trade body).

2009 PV Egle white (RabigatoViosinhoCordoga 13.5% alc.) - from vineyards planted at 750m above sea level (2500 feet): aromatic and zesty with floral honeysuckle notes and "chalky" edges; delicate juicy citrus fruit vs quite punchy mouth-feel, oily texture vs fairly crisp and steely with lingering green olive notes. Nice with a bit of character too, although expensive at £10. 83-85
2006 Quinta do Zimbro red (Touriga FrancaTinta BarrocaTinta Roriz (= Tempranillo), Touriga Nacional) - enticing ripe cassis, black cherry and squashed raspberry fruit with perfumed violet tones and toasty chocolate oak in the background; similar red/black fruit cocktail on the palate, punchy and firmly structured with tight finish vs attractive "sweet"/spicy fruit and oak underneath. Seems higher in alcohol than the stated 13%, but there's enough choc textured ripe fruit to carry it. £8.99 87

2007 Quinta do Crasto Reserva red "Vinhas Velhas" (old vines with up to 30 different Port grape varieties!) - showing quite a lot of aromatic spicy coconut oak (aged 16 months in 60% new barrels, mostly French) vs lively black fruits with dark damsons, liquorice, black cherry; lush juicy mouth-feel with ripe fruit and toasty dark chocolate texture, powerful and weighty with solid yet rounded tannins. Big but controlled, I'd like less oak although there's lots of fruit and it's quite classy in the end. £18 Adnams. 90-92
Croft Pink Port NV (100 grams/litre residual sugar) - boiled sweets and bubble gum in that ester-y chemistry lab kinda way, plus something odd and a tad oxidised even? Lively fruity palate with underlying baked character, very fiery zesty and red fruity. Not sure really: full marks to the Port world for riding the pink zeitgeist, but I was struggling to like this wine being too techno with hard alcohol. With a mixer as an apero perhaps...
1989 Adega de Favaios Moscatel (Moscatel Galego = Muscat à petits grains, 137 g/l RS, 17% alc., bottled in 2009) - lovely golden brown colour, marmalade and cooked apricots and grapes with complex Madeira-like edges; lush sweet flavours with baked maturing tones, barley sugar and marmalade fruit; has a bit of a kick cutting through the sweetness nicely, lots of flavour and delicious intricate lingering nuances. €8.40 ex-cellars. 92+
Andresen 20 year-old white Port (101 g/l RS, 20%) - baked walnuts with Demerara, barley sugar and lightly "cheesy" Madeira-like hints; intense and fiery with toasted almonds, tangier palate than the Moscatel with intriguing flavours and good cut; although in the end the alcohol is too fiery, pity as it's interesting and complex. £25 87(+)
Graham's 20 year-old Tawny (20%) - still reddish colour with browning edges, cooked raspberry nose; attractive lush "sweet/savoury" fruit with fiery kick, mellowing on the finish though with toffee and caramelised red fruits; complex and tasty pecan notes too with softer "sweet/savoury" finish vs lingering oomph. Very good although I remember it being even better?! £3088-90
2007 JP Ramos/JM Soares Franco "Duorum" Vintage Port (mostly a field blend with majority Touriga Nacional Touriga Franca plusTinta Roriz, 20% alc., 100 RS) - stonking colour and nose with rich sweet dark cherries, prunes and liquorice tinged with peppery violet notes and baked/savoury edges; perfumed vs lush dark cherry, punchy alcohol with firm dry tannins although lovely texture too; huge extracted mouthful with lots of liquorice yet a touch of freshness in there too. Wow: peppery finish with good depth, relatively approachable now although really needs 5+ years to express itself better. £35 92+
Plus these two reds discovered on the Douro and Port Wine Institute stand:
2006 Calços do Tanha Douro Reserva (13.5%) - attractive maturing "sweet" cherry fruit with minty touches; rich and juicy, turning more savoury with firm powerful finish yet good fruit too.87-89
2005 Quinta Fonte Nova Gran Reserva - gutsy meaty wine, very big tannins although there's quite a bit going on underneath. Let it lie for a couple more years?

More Douro wine reviews below, as well as notes on a few wineries in the Alentejo and Algarve. Mini-profiles on the producers of these wines are here:

Herdade dos Lagos - Alentejo & Vinho Verde
2006 Tinto (SyrahAragonês (= Tempranillo)) - lovely minty "garrigue" aromas with sweet lavender vs dark cherry too; savoury vs dried fruit palate with a touch of underlining tannin, attractive now actually. 87
2005 Reserva (SyrahAragonês) - herbal and coconut spicy notes vs quite rich black cherry/berry; firmer more solid mouth-feel with peppery edges, fairly powerful with lightly grainy texture then more savoury finish. 88+
2007 Reserva - lush fruit vs grippy texture and a touch of grainy oak; tight and firm finish vs concentrated and ripe, attractive lingering liquorice and pepper flavours. Needs 2-3 more years yet.90+
2007 Syrah - meaty and dark fruity profile, lovely wild Rhone/Barossa style with solid palate vs lush dark fruit; fine tight length too with tasty rich flavours on a firm backdrop. 92+
2006 Syrah Reserva - maturing fruit vs grainy grippy mouth-feel, more subtle concentration and richness even if less "impressive"; followed by firm taut and less up-front finish. 90+
2009 Vinho Verde - very lively gooseberry and other crisp green fruits, nice and refreshing finish. 80-85
2009 Vinho Branco Tejo (VidalArintoChardonnay) - floral "chalky" and lees-y notes on the nose; turns more exotic with banana flavours vs very crisp and mineral bite, different too. 85-87
2009 rosé (Touriga Nacional/Cabernet Sauvignon) - nice creamy vs crunchy red fruits with crisp clean finish. 80-83

Terras d'Alter - Alentejo
2009 Arinto - aromatic and zesty with floral honeysuckle tones; juicy and crisp mouth-feel with quite long mineral finish. 85
2009 Alva (Alvarinho) - rich lees-y and quite exotic to start; gooseberry and lime zesty too vs "fatter" apricot fruit vs exciting crisp juicy finish. 87+
2009 Verdelho - greengage vs honeyed and pineapple notes; again nice crisp steely palate with green vs "sweeter" fruit finish. Attractive style. 85+
2009 Reserva (Viognier) - more buttery and exotic with full-on apricot fruit; full-bodied and rounded vs crisp bite, well made and balanced. 87
2009 Touriga Nacional - liquorice and dark cherry with peppery edges; gorgeous lush fruit with spicy/juicy profile vs a touch of grip and style. 87+
2007 Outeiro do Mouro (Syrah/Petit Verdot) - grainy coconut nuances vs enticing rich chunky fruit; pretty solid mouth-feel dusted with oak, although I like that coating of tannins and fruit vs 14.5% oomph; structured taut finish vs hints of savoury development. 88-90
2009 Tempranillo - very ripe and dark "tar" notes with toasty oak; rather firm and charred on the palate, although it's concentrated underneath and probably has potential (so why all that oak...)

Herdade São Miguel - Alentejo
2008 Atlântico
 red (Alicante Bouschet, Trincadeira, Aragonês) - "sweet" vs smoky berry fruit; nice juicy spicy palate with a bit of grip and ripe berries to finish. £5.99 85
2009 Ciconia (Aragonês, Syrah, Touriga Nacional) - more peppery on the nose, again has attractive lively ripe berry fruit (red and black); more oomph and grip too vs liquorice and pepper length. £6.99 87
2009 Herdade São Miguel Colheita Seleccionada (Alicante Bouschet, Aragonês, Cabernet Sauvignon, Trincadeira) - spicy black cherry style showing juicy "sweet" dark fruit with spicy minty edges; structured mouth-feel with grip and power, needs 6-12 months to come together. 87+
2008 Touriga Nacional - touches of cedar and coconut oak vs very firm palate vs liquorice and dark cherry; spicy punchy and solid closing up on the finish, powerful stuff but promising. 88-90
2008 SM dos Descobridores Reserva (Alicante BouschetTouriga Franca) - grippy texture and grainy oak, a bit extracted and difficult to taste although concentrated with lurking fruit; pretty massive mouth-feel then tight finish. Leave it for a couple of years.
2007 Herdade São Miguel Reserva (Alicante Bouschet, Aragonês, Cabernet Sauvignon) - maturing smoky tobacco notes with underlying spicy oak; big firm and punchy palate, coating of dry tannins vs lush dark fruit; wow, even if pretty grippy still. 90+
2006 Private Collection (the top five barrels each vintage) - indeed, it's quite oaky but also has lovely maturing savoury and leather tones; again big tannins and structure with grainy texture, solid concentrated finish; just a bit too much oak for my liking but should age well over the next few years. 89-91

Porto Quevedo - Douro Valley
2008 Oscar's
 Douro red (Touriga NacionalTinta Roriz 14% alc.) - meaty peppery nose with nice dark cassis and cherry flavours; "sweet/savoury" finish with well-textured tannins, a bit baked although shows fair depth of fruit. $6.99
Rosé Port (Touriga NacionalTouriga FrancaSousão) - unusual tobacco notes or something unexpected on the nose!? Again a touch baked (could just be from sitting open for a few hours in a warm exhibition hall) but has rich red fruit palate with oomph and bite; not so sweet in the end and attractive enough style (I'm slowly warming to rosé ports, some of them taste too confected).
1996 Colheita Port (Touriga NacionalTouriga FrancaTinta Roriz,Tinto CãoTinta Barroca; plus 12% "others" which sounds a little mysterious) - reddish brown colour; rich complex "sweet/savoury" profile with a bit of a kick still, sweet palate vs nice bite with dried fruit and oily nutty finish. 90
2003 Late Bottled Vintage Port (Touriga NacionalTouriga Franca, Tinta Roriz, Tinto Cão, Tinta Barroca, "others" (20%) - baked leathery dried fruit nose; pretty stonking tannins still layered with lush smoky dried fruits, although quite mature at the same time; a bit clunky perhaps but still attractive. 85+

2007 Vintage Port - baked liquorice tones with sweet, dried prune-y fruit vs peppery dark cherries; big chewy palate with fair oomph, "sweet/savoury" finish vs nice cut; concentrated and meaty with dried fruit and power to finish. Needs more time. 87-90

Quinta Dona Matilde - Douro
2007 Reserva Douro red (Touriga NacionalTouriga Franca andTinta Amarela) - smoky, peppery and floral too with enticing cassis vs liquorice notes; grippy vs maturing mouth-feel showing good depth and more savoury finish. 87
2009 Douro white (ArintoViosinhoGouveioRabigato) - flowery honeysuckle vs zesty "chalky" aromas; lightly exotic banana fruit vs crisp and steely, juicy lees-y finish too. 80-84
2007 Quinta Dona Matilde Vintage Port - powerful with prune and leather on the nose and palate, extracted and fiery vs masses of liquorice and black fruits; very firm framework but there's lots going on here, needs a few years to open up. 92+

Adega Vila Real - Douro
2009 Douro white - cheesy vs banana aromas (?!); floral juicy mouth-feel with lightly crisp and mineral finish. 80-83
2009 Douro Reserva white - subtle toasted vanilla notes; again juicy and crisp in the mouth although rounder with tasty mineral finish. 85
2008 Douro Gran Reserva white - very cold to taste, although showing oilier and weightier palate plus a tad more coconut oak spice too; has attractive rounded mouth-feel though with nice fruit and texture, dry and crisp on the finish. 85-87
2009 Douro rosé - lively vs creamy red fruits, crisp bite again vs "sweet" fruit; attractive foodie style. 85
2008 Douro red - enticing perfumed and fruity cassis, liquorice and cherry; soft and juicy with ripe mouth-feel vs a bit of bite. Tasty, attractive and good value at £5 a bottle in the UK (as are the "basic" white and rosé above). 85
2007 Reserva red - hints of chocolate oak layered with dark plum, liquorice and peppery undertones; has fair depth of fruit with lightly cedar-y/toasty texture and flavours, attractive "sweet/savoury" mix on the finish though. 87
2007 Gran Reserva red (vat sample, not bottled) - quite lush and concentrated black fruits vs firm structure, tight and closed up finish; not revealing much at the moment although punchy with lurking fruit, could be promising.

Quinta dos Vales - the Algarve
2009 Marquês dos Vales white - floral orange shades with peaches and a touch of vanilla; juicy palate with vanilla oak touches and lightly bitter twist to finish. 83+
2009 Marquês dos Vales rosé(Castelão) - juicy and crisp with gentle red fruits, pretty dry and refreshing on the finish. €5.31 83+
2007 Grace Vineyard red (CastelãoCabernet Sauvignon,Aragones) - a lot of smoky rubbery oak on the nose, perhaps a touch over-extracted yet there's some nice lush fruit lurking underneath. €12.60
2008 Grace Vineyard Touriga Nacional - rich plum nose with ripe cassis and chocolate oak on top; very firm and punchy with extracted tannins and rubbery oak texture, concentrated though with dark fruit undertones. Pity about the overdone oak... €12.6087+?

Regis Causa - Douro
2009 Douro
 white - aromatic floral Muscat-y even with mineral edges; nice crisp bite and juicy lees notes vs fruity finish. 85+
2007 Douro red (Touriga Franca, Touriga NacionalTinta Roriz) - attractive ripe vs herby red/black fruit nose with minty edges; meatier palate, tasty fruit vs solid finish. 87+
2007 Grande Reserve (Touriga NacionalTouriga Franca) - toasty oak and grippy tannins to the fore, nice sweet fruit though vs chunky oaky finish. Not sure, needs to open up maybe...

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