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Short notes from Portugal

September 18, 2017

These are wines tasted during a visit to Lisbon, Portugal, between 10-15 Sep 2017. I must admit I was completely floored by the vast array of indigenous grape varietals produced by this country, and a lot of those that I’d tasted were really very good in quality: wines that displayed plenty of presence, layering and structure, replete with well-managed tannins.

Portuguese wine regions
Image by theportuguesewine.com

 These wines deserve a place on any table, made all the more appealing by the fact that they are so inexpensively priced, even on restaurant lists. A very good bottle can be had for less than €25. Not surprisingly, it is common to see at least one bottle of wine popped at each table at Lisbon’s vibrant dining scene. Wine has been documented to be made in Portugal since the 5th or 6th century B.C. and its appellation system (Denominação de Origem Controlada), at least for the Duoro region, was introduced some two hundred years before the French had their own. Paradoxically though, it is the sheer range of strange-sounding varietals (to a non-Portuguese speaker like myself), unfamiliar wine-growing regions and the lack of exposure to such produce outside of Portugal that makes Portuguese wines seem intimidating. The best wines come from the northern part of the country, regions such as Vinho Verde, Duoro and Dao, all protected under strict regulation by the D.O.C. The Portuguese don’t seem interested in marketing their wines overseas in a big way, which is great for the ordinary consumer as it avoids any price inflation. Do yourself a big favor by indulging in a holiday in Lisbon.

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2015 Divai red, tasted on board TAP Portugal between London-Lisbon, 10 Sep 2017. Deep purple. Saturated with mocha, ripe dark fruit, blackberries amidst a hint of tangerines and dark plums. Quite full and forward, displaying good concentration and freshness, infused with subtle graphite elements that imparted a slightly stern demeanour at its finish. Very fine! I enjoyed it.

2016 Paulo Laureano Classico blanc, tasted on board TAP Portugal between Lisbon-London, 15 Sep 2017. From the southern region of Alentejo, made from grapes such as Antao Vaz, Roupeiro and Fernao Pires. 20170910_193454Medium-full, displaying good concentration of clear citrus supported by crisp crystalline minerality, imparting a very clean feel with excellent zest and freshness, finishing well with fine balance and acidity. Good stuff! TAP Portugal can certainly be very proud of its quality offerings.

2016 Familia Rosa Santos Implicit, popped and poured at Quermesse, Lisbon, 10 Sep 2017. From a blend of Touriga Nacional, Syrah and Alicante Bouschet sourced from Alentejo at more than 300 metres above sea-level, this is a junior label to this estate’s “Explicit” range, offering an abundance of ripe dark fruits and blackcurrants, full-bodied, supported by fine stony minerals with some earth and vegetal traces at its stern finish where the 14% alcohol is a tad prominent at this stage.

2015 Duas Quintas, tasted 11 Sep 2017. From the Duoro region. This excellent white displays delicate citrus, creme and chalk with further notes of white flowers and morning dew, excellent in concentration, its crystalline minerality imparting a mildly stern demeanour. Tight, zesty and bright, finishing with white pepper.

2001 Silval port., a half bottle tasted on 11 Sep 2017 after we’d finished the above white.  19.5%. Classic characters of port, nicely ripe and balanced with a long minty finish, not over extracted but neither profound in depth and layering.

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2011 Colecao Uvelhas Negras Granvizir, from the region of Dao, popped and poured at Rib, a meat joint at Lisbon, 12 Sep 2017. Raspberries, red fruits and blueberries dominate with fine concentration along with earthy tones, slightly forward but well-balanced with sweet gentle tannins, revealing good intensity and detail, becoming almost Burgundian after some time as it evolved towards a minerally finish. Very fine.

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2015 Borges Quinta da Soalheira, over a seafood lunch at Nazare, 13 Sep 2017. Zesty with an abundance of white fruit and clear citrus supported by limestone minerals, producing crisp acidity with excellent fullness. Open, refreshing and broad, finishing with good length. Highly satisfying.

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2016 Soalheiro Alvarinho. At Sea Me restaurant, Lisbon, 13 Sep 2017. Lovely floral aromas with just a hint of sweetness coming from the excellent concentration of tangy citrus and fresh green fruits, open with good detail and understated acidity, easy on the palate, finishing with a cool lingering trace of sweetness. This is so good that we drank two bottles amongst three of us.

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2016 Esporao Riserva Blanc, at La Tagliatella, Lisbon, 14 Sep 2017. Shut on the nose, though there is an abundance of chalky minerals and crisp citrus on the palate, well-delineated with fine acidity and a hint of paraffin.

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2012 Quinta da Pellada, from the region of Dao, popped and poured at Rubro Avenida, Lisbon, 14 Sep 2017. Red plums, ripe wild berries and earth dominate, rounded and fleshy with excellent acidity and fullness, lengthy with well-integrated tannins that are slightly sweet. Yet to develop. Very fine.

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