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Posts Tagged ‘Portugal

Vinho de joaninha

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Vinho Mesa Tinto 2011, Quinta da Serradinha ($23.70, 13286861)
A blend of Baga (35%), Castelão (30%), Touriga Nacional (20%) and Alfrocheiro (15%) from organically farmed vines planted in 1954 on the limestone slopes of the Serra de Aire massif, near Leiria, about 20 km from the temperature-moderating Atlantic. Manually harvested. The destemmed grapes are placed in open vats and foot-trod three times a day. Fermentation lasts 10 days. Matured two years in neutral oak barrels. Unfiltered and unfined. An embossed ladybug (joaninha in Portuguese) sits atop the bottle’s capsule, invariably prompting a second look. Reducing sugar: 1.8 g/l. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: Rézin.
Unusual, intriguing nose: slightly candied plum and black raspberry, fragrant blossoms (peony?) and camphor-like fresh herbs. There’s some ink or slate in there too. In the mouth, it’s medium- heading toward full-bodied. The dark flavours (plummy fruit, slate dust, old wood) and grainy density are riddled with – almost contradicted by – zingy acidity. While the tannins seem roundish and resolving at first, a fine astringency fills the mouth and lingers long after the flavours have disappeared. Earthy yet light on its feet, this smoothed and sweetened as it breathed, so it’s definitely carafable. Cool-climate Portuguese wines clearly merit further investigation. (Buy again? Sure.)

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Written by carswell

October 23, 2017 at 13:14

Posted in Tasting notes

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Bairrada and Burgundy

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Bairrada 2015, Maria da Graça, Tiago Teles ($28.04, private import, 6 bottles/case)
100% Alfrocheiro from 15- to 30-year-old vines rooted in clay-limestone soil in a cool-climate vineyard. The manually harvested grapes are fermented in open concrete vats. Matured six months in stainless steel tanks. Minimal sulphur dioxide at bottling. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Rézin.
Interesting, savoury nose of “smoke,” slate, blackberry, plum, licorice and a hint of rubber. Medium-bodied, dry and savoury but also astoundingly fresh and fluid. The sweet-ripe fruit joined by dried beef, spice and lots of minerals. Lively tannins, smooth tannins and a long finish round out the tasty picture. (Buy again? Yep.)

Saint-Aubin 2014, Le Ban, Domaine Derain (ca. $60, private import, 6 bottles/case)
A blend of Pinot Noir (97%) and Aligoté, Chardonnay, Pinot Beurot and Pinot Blanc. The nearly 100-year-old vines are coplanted and have been farmed biodynamically since 1989. Manually harvested. Crushed by foot. Whole-cluster fermentation in traditional wooden vats lasts two to three weeks. Matured in barrels. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Rézin.
Ça pinote ? And how. A perfumy, floral nose of red berries, sweet spice, beet and cola. A sip reveals a wine of great purity. The rich, ripe fruit is beautifully structured by lively acidity and fine, firm tannins and a mineral underlay. Marinated cherry, herbs and a hint of chocolate appear on the expansive mid-palate and linger through the long, bitter-edged finish. Delicious now and probably even better in 10 years. Tastes old-fashioned in the best sense of the phrase. A memorable wine. Fairly priced too. (Buy again? A case if it weren’t sold out.)

MWG August 11th tasting: flight 5 of 9

Written by carswell

October 11, 2017 at 12:15

Branco and bianco

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Lisboa 2015, António, Casal Figueira ($35.03, private import, 6 bottles/case)
100% Vital from ungrafted, 60- to 100-year-old vines. After destemming, the grapes and placed in barrels for fermentation and eight to 10 months’ maturation on the fine lees. Lightly filtered. A tiny amount of sulphur dioxide is added at bottling. 11.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Rézin.
Subtle, nuanced nose suggestive of lemon, quince and white minerals. Subtle and minerally on the palate, too, with veils of white fruit, citrus, honey and wax. Enlivened by fresh acidity. So light yet so intense and pure. Finishes clean and long. Super with Lucky Limes. Steve says this estate’s wines are among the most vintage-driven he’s encountered, with each year bringing a new experience. Well, the 2015 experience is most impressive. (Buy again? Yes.)

Marche Bianco 2016, Terre Silvate, La Distesa ($27.68, private import, 12 bottles/case)
Mostly Verdicchio with small abounts of Trebbiano and Malvasia. The manually harvested grapes come from organically and semi-biodynamically farmed vines in two plots in the Castelli dei Jesi appellation. Part of the juice is left to macerate on the skins for several days. Co-fermented with indigenous yeasts in stainless steel tanks. Matured five to six months. No added anything except minimal amounts of sulphur dioxide at bottling. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: Rézin.
Burned minerals, hay, apple and “chickpeas.” Rich and extracted. Ripe-sweet apple on the attack gives way to citrus and a load of minerals with a definite saline streak. Soft acidity adds just enough buoyancy. Long, minerally finish with incipient honey and almond notes. Fresh, engaging and speaking of its place. A favourite of many around the table, including me. (Buy again? If the Quebec allocation weren’t sold out, absolutely.)

MWG August 11th tasting: flight 3 of 9

Written by carswell

October 8, 2017 at 11:45

Bargain Branco

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Dão 2016, Indigena, Adega de Penalva ($11.25, 12728904)
A blend of Encruzado (40%), Cerceal Branco (30%) and Malvasia Fina (30%) from vines rooted in sandy soil over schist and granite. Farming is sustainable converting to organic. Manually harvested. The more aromatic varieties are macerated overnight. After pressing, the juice is fermented in stainless steel tanks and bottled early in the year following the vintage. Reducing sugar: <1.2 g/l. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: La QV.
Wafting, aromatic nose of pear compote, white spice, white flowers, chalk and a little sap. In the mouth, it’s unctuous but not heavy, redolent of white orchard fruit, white grape juice and eventually citrus. At first you wonder whether the wine isn’t too soft but as it breathes and your palate adjusts, the unaggressive acidity and thin vein of quartzy minerals form a definite if pliant backbone. A thin thread of bitterness runs throughout and is joined by a faint honey note on the dry finish. Gains presence as it warms from fridge temperature, so don’t serve it too cold. The price is unbelievably low for a wine of this quality and character. Some might enjoy this as an aperitif, though I tend to like a sharper white in that role. Seems like a natural for simply prepared cod or soft Portuguese cheeses. (Buy again? Sure.)

Written by carswell

September 23, 2017 at 12:14

Rebel without applause

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(More like without wild applause actually but the pun was irresistible.) As much as I appreciate swimmers against the current, the label’s bad boy posing almost convinced me to buy something else. On the other hand, I was making a Portuguese dish (pork chops pan-fried with whole garlic cloves and lemon wedges), was in the mood for a light red and this bottle from the father of Filipa Pato, whose wines I’ve enjoyed in the past, was the only Portuguese red at my local SAQ that was under 13%.

Beira Atlântico 2015, Pato Rebel, Luis Pato ($21.50, 13184419)
Baga (90%), Touriga Nacional (9%) and Bical (1%). The idea being to tame the ferociously tannic Baga, the grapes are macerated only briefly and fermented in temperature-controlled tanks. Reducing sugar: 1.7 g/l. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Pot de vin.
Blackberryish fruit, iron, dried blood, dark chocolate, background fern and bog. Medium-bodied and supple. The ripe fruit quickly fades leaving minerals and earthy savour but not a lot else. Structured by fresh acidity and fine tannins that swell astringently on the super-dry finish. Slate, old wood, old leather and vine sap linger. Somewhat austere and not particularly deep but a perfectly good food wine. Not beguiling though unlike anything else and involving in its somewhat inscrutable way. (Buy again? Sure.)

Written by carswell

September 22, 2017 at 12:24

Dâo wow

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Dâo 2014, Quinta da Ponte Pedrinha ($18.25, 11895321)
Everyone seems to agree this contains Tinta Roriz (aka Tempranillo) and Jaen (aka Mencia); some add Touriga Nacional and Alfrocheiro to the mix. The vines, which are reportedly around 30 years old, are rooted in granitic soil. The manually harvested grapes are given extended maceration. Fermented in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks. Reducing sugar: 2.4 g/l. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: Bergeron-les-vins.
Fresh nose of red and black fruit, spice, faint red and black licorice, distant tar and a whiff of barnyard. Medium-bodied and very dry. The flavourful, ripe-sweet fruit is nicely soured by bright acidity (the hallmark of a good Dâo) and framed by light but firm tannins that assert themselves on the finish. A complex of leather, dark minerals, tobacco, undergrowth and old wood flavours adds savour and lingers long. Classic, refreshing, straightforward and even elegant, this food-friendly wine illustrates why Dâo is my favourite Portuguese region for dry reds. The estate recommends chilling the wine to 16-18°C and I couldn’t agree more. (Buy again? Definitely.)

Written by carswell

July 18, 2017 at 12:21

Dãoist

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Dão 2011, Quinta da Falorca ($19.45, 11895381)
Contrary to what SAQ.com and the Quebec agent claim, this is the estate’s basic Dão and not the Touriga Nacional bottling. A blend of Touriga Nacional (60%), Alfrocheiro (15%), Tinta Roriz (aka Tempranillo, 10%), Jaen (aka Mencia, 10%) and Rufete (5%) from estate-owned vines on the granite banks of the Dão River. Manually harvested. Destemmed. Gently pressed. Fermented in temperature-controlled (26-28°C) tanks. Matured in French oak barrels and stainless steel tanks. Reducing sugar: 2.2 g/l. 14% ABV. Quebec agent: Balthazard.
Winey, peppery, stemmy, earthy nose dominated by plum and cassis aromas. In the mouth, it’s full-bodied but not weighty, possessed of a fundamentally fluid texture. Most apparent up front, the ripe fruit soon gives way to more savoury flavours (old oak, dark minerals, leather, dried mushroom, dusting of black pepper) and is elegantly structured, the acidity bright and sleek, the tannins slender yet firm, the alcohol heady, not hot. The long finish brings a woody/stemmy aftertaste and a faint numbing quality. Quite fresh for a six-year-old wine, this has several years of life ahead of it. It smoothed and opened with a half hour’s exposure to air, so carafing is advised. (Buy again? Yes, including a couple of bottles to lay down for four to five years.)

Written by carswell

May 24, 2017 at 12:52