Wines of Portugal: London tastingBy Robin Goldsmith
Portugal continues to make beautiful waves in the wine trade. Of all countries, it is hard to find one which offers better value for money.
It is not just the UK which is seeing renewed interest in the country’s wines, but Asia is becoming a booming market too, as it is for wines from many other nations.
Indeed, according to an article in the drinks business at the end of last year, many Portuguese winemakers believe that China is their “most promising market”. However, London and the UK remain key targets and UK consumers would do well to take note of the superb quality coming out of Portugal.
With a gamut of styles, based on indigenous and international grape varieties, it is always a pleasure to attend a Portuguese wine tasting and to discover some new gems. Here is a brief run-down of some of my highlights from The Wines of Portugal Annual Tasting 2014 held in London on 5th March. Note the use of indigenous Portuguese grape blends.
Quinta do Pôpa’s Wine on the Rocks 2011 is a sheer explosion of fruit in two editions named “Lolita” (fresh and fruity) and “Milf” (more complex). Made from a blend of several Portuguese grape varieties, the wines are brimming with juicy stewed fruit plus notes of coffee, chocolate and herbs. I would love to see these new Douro wines made available to the UK market.
Campolargo had several wines on show, but my favourite was their “Rol de Coisas Antigas” 2010. With floral aromas and a fruity palate complemented by notes of violets, thyme, rosemary and other Mediterranean herbs, this wine was an absolute delight!
The Península de Setúbal has always produced some distinctive wines, particularly from the Muscat grape, but Hallgarten Druitt had several wines from Adega de Pegões that were made from different grapes and which represent superb value for money:-
Adega de Pegões Selected Harvest White 2012 is made from a blend of Arinto, Chardonnay and Verdelho, Very aromatic with a nose of white flowers and apricots, the palate shows notes of apricot and honey plus good structure.
Fontanário de Pegões 2012 – another white wine, but this time made from Fernão Pires only. Very floral and fruity with notes of apricot kernel and peach, particularly on the end palate.
Altano White 2012, from Symington Family Estates and available from John E Fells & Sons Ltd. is a Douro white wine made from Malvasia Fina, Viosinho and Moscatel Galego Branco. Although dry, this has notes of sweet tropical fruit and white peach with a touch of salinity. A great wine for Sushi or for drinking on its own.
Quinta do Sagrado’s Sagrado White 2012 is an interesting white wine from the Douro. A blend of four native grape varieties, there are characteristics of apple, pineapple, butterscotch and herbs.
Quinta do Portal’s Moscatel Branco 2013 is a white wine from the Douro, made from Moscatel Galego Branco. Floral with notes of peach and citrus plus good minerality, this is a dry, elegant and fresh example of a style which is not well known within the UK.
Marques de Borba Reserva 2011, imported by Oakley Wine Agencies , is a lovely red wine from the Alentejo region. The blending of Trincadeira, Aragonez and Alicante Bouschet have created an elegant and very fruity dry wine, with notes of berries, cherries, spice and a touch of herbs, the sweet fruit persisting on the finish.
Casal Branco’s Falcoaria Classico 2011, also from Oakley Wine Agencies’ portfolio, is a red wine from the Tejo. A blend of six grape varieties, this is full of wild berries, plums and spice with softening touches of vanilla and cedar wood.
Casa Leal imports an excellent range of Portuguese wines. The following are particularly impressive:-
Quinta do Pinto’s Vinhas do Lasso Colheita Seleccionado 2010 is a three-grape red wine from the Lisboa region. Floral and full of juicy ripe fruit, it retains freshness and a smooth, velvety feel in the mouth.
Casa de Paços Loureiro e Arinto 2012 is a Vinho Verde made from those two grape varieties. With notes of citrus and stone fruit plus a refreshing minerality, this is given some extra complexity from the short lees ageing.
Quinta das Arcas makes some superb Vinho Verde. Their Arca Nova Branco 2013, made from Loureiro, Arinto and Trajadura, displays notes of limes and tropical fruit, while the Arca Nova Loureiro 2013 shows citrus and peach notes, in particular. Both are fresh, aromatic and well-balanced.
Quinta das Arcas Herdade Penedo Gordo Tinto 2012, made from four Portuguese red grape varieties in the Alentejo, has a lovely fruity nose with hints of liquorice, herbs and mint, which continue on the palate with some pepper and eucalyptus on the finish.
One name familiar to many admirers of Portuguese wine is Luis Pato. His wines are full of character, can age well and show some really interesting characteristics. I particularly enjoyed two of his Bairrada red wines, made from the Baga grape.
Firstly, Vinha Barrosa 2010 exhibits fruity notes of berries and currants with a touch of liquorice and smoke, good acidity and tannins plus a hint of coffee on the end palate. Vinha Pan 2010 has a vibrant wild berry nose, which carries through to the palate with an edge of stone fruit, good tannins and a smoothing hint of milk chocolate. I would love to see how these two wines develop.
In addition to the wonderful wines, we were treated to some delicious Portuguese food – I have always enjoyed Portuguese cuisine and indeed have mentioned this in my writing elsewhere.
In addition to the savoury dishes and the addictive Pastéis de Nata (I find these have a Pringles effect on me, i.e. it’s impossible to eat just one!!!), there were some fantastic cheeses made from cow’s, sheep’s and goat’s milk. Absolutely wonderful and a perfect complement to some excellent Portuguese wine.