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Posts Tagged ‘Portugal


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Dão 2011, Quinta da Falorca ($19.45, 11895381)
Contrary to what and the Quebec agent claim, this is the estate’s basic Dão and not the Touriga Nacional bottling. And while Quinta da Falorca is the estate shown on the label, the wine is made by Quinta do Vale des Escandinhas. 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

Oaky doke

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Dão 2010, Tinta Roriz, Fonte de Gonçalvinho ($20.15, 12974531)
Another wine unmentioned on the producer’s and agent’s websites. 100% Tinta Roriz (aka Tempranillo). The grapes were destemmed and given extended maceration on the skins. Alcoholic fermentation took place in temperature-controlled (28°C) stainless steel tanks. After malolactic fermentation, the wine was transferred to second-fill American oak barrels for eight months’ maturation. Reducing sugar: 2.9 g/l. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Vinicolor.
Charred wood and dried ink with plum, black cherry, red meat, cola and cocoa in the background. Medium- to full-bodied, smooth and quite dry. The core of ripe red and black fruit is still vibrant, wrapped in soft tannins, aglow with acidity. As expected in a six-year-old wine, the oak has mostly retreated, shading more than colouring the fruit, except on the bitter-edged finish, where spice, ash and chocolate linger. Not bad but yet another example of heavy-handed oak treatment robbing the wine of freshness. (Buy again? Oak-allergic me? Probably not. But if you’re one of the many who like pronounced oak notes in their wine, go for it. You’ll want to hurry though: there’s not much left in the system.)

Written by carswell

March 22, 2017 at 12:06

Posted in Tasting notes

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Top sub-$15 red at the SAQ?

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Dâo 2014, Duque de Viseu, Quinta dos Carvalhais/Sogrape ($14.05, 00546309)
Touriga Nacional (55%), Tinta Roriz (aka Tempranillo, 32%), Alfrocheiro (7%) and Jaen (aka Mencia, 6%). The grapes were destemmed, gently crushed and gravity-fed into temperature-controlled stainless steel vats. Alcoholic fermentation, with regular pump-overs, lasted about six days. After pressing, the wine was transferred to stainless steel vats for malolactic fermentation. Half the finished wine was matured in used French oak barrels, the other half in stainless steel tanks, both for 12 months. Micro-oxygenation is practised. Reducing sugar: 1.7 g/l. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: Charton Hobbs.
Intriguing nose: plum, dark berries, fallen leaves, a kischy high note, a hint of rubber and a faint vegetal streak, all of which are echoed on the palate. In the piehole, it’s medium-bodied, full of ripe but not heavy fruit with a slatey substrate, lively acidity and smooth tannins that show some astringent mettle on a credibly long, spice-scented finish. Very drinkable and food friendly (even with white meats, even with non-Portuguese fare), neither industrial nor soulless. This fluent wine is certainly one of the top sub-$15 reds at the SAQ. (Buy again? Sure.)

Written by carswell

January 23, 2017 at 12:03

Amphora vs. cask (Baga round)

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Vinho Tinto 2014, Baga, Post-Quercus, Filipa Pato ($22.09/500 ml, private import, 6 bottles/case)
100% Baga from old, organically farmed vines (the same source for the grapes that go into the red Nossa Calcáro). Fermented (with indigenous yeasts) and matured in buried 300-litre terracotta amphorae. 11% ABV. Quebec agent: Importations du Moine.
Rich nose of red fruit with definite terracotta notes. Equally rich on the palate though medium-bodied and soft-textured. The tannins are fine but sharp-edged, the acidity bright. Cherry, plum and mineral flavours last well into the long finish. Nothing profound but very drinkable and quite unlike any other Portuguese red I’ve tasted. (Buy again? Yes.)

Bairrada 2013, Baga, Nossa Calcáro, Filipa Pato ($47.48, private import, 6 b/c)
100% Baga from old, organically farmed vines rooted in chalky subsoil with some sony clay. The stems are left on 20% of the grapes. Fermented with indigenous yeasts in open-topped oak vats. Matured in 500-litre French oak barrels (30% new). 13% ABV. Quebec agent: Importations du Moine.
Corked! What came across as reductive funk on opening had morphed into full-blown taint by the time we poured our glasses two hours later. A pity, as you could tell this is a thoroughbred of a wine, one whose price is probably justified.

MWG February 11th tasting: flight 5 of 6

Written by carswell

March 7, 2016 at 12:04

Amphora vs. cask (Bical round)

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Vinho Branco 2014, Post-Quercus, Filipa Pato ($22.09/500 ml, private import, 6 bottles/case)
100% Bical fom organically farmed vines; these may well be the same grapes as used to make the Nossa Calcáro described below, though I’ve not been able to confirm that. Fermented (with indigenous yeasts) and matured in buried terracotta amphorae. 11% ABV. Quebec agent: Importations du Moine.
Engaging nose of pear poached in réduit (boiled maple sap at the halfway point to becoming syrup) with notes of honey, orange peel and spice. In the mouth, the wine has a satiny texture, faint stone-fruit (white peach?) flavours, nose-echoing overtones along with some flint, and what one taster described as a “seawatery dryness.” Other tasters noted the relatively low acidity (“lacks spark,” “tastes flat”) and drew parallels with “dry cider.” While I can see their point, I found the wine oddly haunting and, convinced it’s intended more for the dining room than the tasting room, would love to try it alongside simply prepared white fish. (Buy again? Another bottle for sure.)

Bairrada 2014, Bical, Nossa Calcáro, Filipa Pato ($38.41, private import, 6 bottles/case)
100% Bical from organically farmed vines rooted in clay and limestone and averaging 25 years old. The vineyard in located in Óis do Bairro, a famous Bairrada wine village. Fermented with indigenous yeasts in 500-litre, temperature-controlled (sub 18°C) oak casks with stirring every month until the February following harvest. Bottled in May. 11.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Importations du Moine.
Bit funky/stinky, then gaining citrus aromas and turning brighter. A sip reveals a wine more conventional than the Post-Quercus: complex, dry and savoury, an elegant mouthful of white peach and hay heading to straw, grounded in flinty minerals, lifted by acidity and culminating in a long, bitter-edged, almond-toned finish. (Buy again? Yes, though not without wishing the price was closer to $30.)

MWG February 11th tasting: flight 2 of 6

Traditional vs. ancestral

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3B, Blanc de Blancs, Método tradicional, Filipa Pato ($23.99, private import, 6 bottles/case)
A blend of Bical, Cercial (aka Cerceal but not Madeira’s Sercial) and Maria Gomes (aka Fernão Pires) from organically farmed vines grown in the Bairrada region. Manually harvested. Gently pressed in a vacuum frame. The must is clarified by settling, then fermented with indigenous yeasts in temperature-controlled (sub 16°C) stainless steel vats. Sparkled using the traditional method. Residual sugar: 2 g/l. 11.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Importations du Moine.
Appealing nose of quartz dust, citrus, sweet apple and distant brioche. The fine bead animates the round texture. Not particularly deep but a fresh, clean, fundamentally dry mouthful of apple, faint stone fruit, minerals and lemon peel. The aromatic finish brings a lingering saline note. Very drinkable. (Buy again? Yes.)

Vin de France 2014, Giac’ Bulles, Vignerons Giachino ($29.22, private import, 6 bottles/case)
100% organically farmed Jacquère. The manually harvested grapes are gently pressed in a pneumatic press. The must is chilled to 5°C and clarified by settling for eight to 10 days, then racked into tanks for fermentation with indigenous yeasts at 15°C. Sparkled using the ancestral method. Residual sugar: c. 30-35 g/l. 8% ABV. Quebec agent: Importations du Moine.
Unusual, initially disconcerting nose: faint jalapeño, ash and “turnip cakes at dim sum,” eventually turning more minerally and fruity (pear? white peach?). Softly effervescent. Lightly chalky and fruity on the palate – one taster described it as “weird apple juice” – and on the sweeter side of off dry, though not cloying due in no small part to the sprightly acidity that lends a sour edge to the long, complex and, yes, drier finish. Doubtful at first, I quite liked this by the end of my glass. Would make a good summer sipper but could also accompany a not-too-sweet fruit-based dessert (peach and wild strawberry verrine with lemon balm cream and shortbread crumble, for example). (Buy again? Yes.)

MWG February 11th tasting: flight 1 of 6

Two sparkling rosés

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Crémant du Jura 2011, Rosé, Domaine Labet ($26.75, private import, 12 bottles/case, NLA)
A 60-40 blend of organically farmed Pinot Noir and Poulsard from 30- to 40-year-old vines. Macerated on the skins for several days. Fermented with indigenous yeasts. Matured on its fine lees in fûts (42%), vats (32%) and barrels (26%). Allowed to undergo malolactic fermentation. A small amount of yeast and sugar was added to the finished wine, which was then bottled and matured. After three years, the bottles were disgorged, given a small dosage and corked. 12.2% ABV. Quebec agent: oenopole.
Lovely if understated mix of minerals, red berries (“old cherries” per one taster) and rhubarb with faint honey, old wood and floral overtones. In the mouth, it’s dry, minerally, haunted by fruit and wood, animated by fine bubbles and brilliant acidity. The long, clean finish has hints of toast and – could it be? – tannins. This was shown on trade day at the Salon des vins d’importation privée and restaurateurs were understandably all over it. (Buy again? Oh, yes.)

3B Rosé, Método Tradicional, Filipa Pato (c. $25.00, private import, 6 bottles/case, NLA)
A 70-30 blend of Baga and Bical from the Bairrada region (whence the three Bs); the vines average 30 years old and are rooted in sandy and clayey limestone soils. Manually harvested and gently pressed. Allowed to clarify by settling, then cool-fermented (16°C) with indigenous yeasts in 650-litre barrels and stainless steel vats. Sparkled using the traditional method. 11.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Importations du Moine.
Dense though not particularly fruity nose: “cream soda meets barley candy,” terracotta, melon, a hint of strawberry and a whiff of musk. More viscous than the buoyant Labet. Fruitier, too, though not bonbon-ish, thanks in part to the mineral substrate. Mild effervescence and soft acidity may explain the slight lethargy. A touch of peppery bitterness and astringency enlivens the long finish, which is more felt than tasted. Dry at first, the wine seemed to gain sweetness as it warmed and breathed. The member who donated the bottle said the white 3B is even more interesting. (Buy again? Maybe.)

MWG November 12th tasting: flight 1 of 6

Written by carswell

November 29, 2015 at 13:43