Friday, April 2, 2010

Report from … Wines of Portugal at the AGO – March 30, 2010

I knew I had had enough, at this year’s Portuguese wines tasting, when the guy behind a certain table told me the wine I believed was marginally corked was “just very woody” – I would like to think I know the difference between new wood smells and cork; and when I say I’ve had enough I mean it in the I’ve-had-it-up-to-here parental way, not as in too much to drink – although that could be a possibility by the end of the day – sad part is I am only at my third table.  But I would have to say that was my only complaint at this year’s annual Portuguese tasting held at the Art Gallery of Ontario (in the Baillie Court) – that and there was a heck of a lot of wine to try and taste; I’m not sure which tasting is more difficult to get through (based on the shear number of wine to taste): Italy, California or Portugal – they certainly aren’t lacking choice.

Today I tried to stay away from the Ports and focused on the interesting, indigenous and those table wines blended with international grapes.  I present my findings below, in no particular order.  All these wines rated 4-stars (very good) and above; and by no means did I try every wine in the room, so I suspect there were other good wines that didn’t even make my palatal radar.

Bacalhoa 2007 Tinto da Anfora – this is a $13 general list gem (at the LCBO), it delivers excellent value.  There was nice fruit, good spice and lovely acidity, not what I expected from a $13 bottle (meaning I would have paid a little more for it). ****

The same winery has a step up wine, this one aged 18 months in French oak (as opposed to the 12 months of the wine above): 2006 Tinto da Anfora Grande Escolha; this is a private order wine which comes in for around $18-20 and manages to add pepperiness, a bigger black fruit component and hints of wood. ****

Dona Maria 2005 Amantis, a blend of Syrah, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Sauvignon – an oddity in this room filled with wines that had at least one indigenous grape variety in each bottle.  As expected the wine is very new world in style, delivering spice, red fruit and chocolate. ****

Adega Cartuxa 2006 Cartuxa Reserva, now here’s one that’s more like what you’d expect, blending four grapes that most Anglo-Saxon folks have never heard of: Trincadeira, Aragonez, Alfrocheiro and Alicante Bouschet to deliver a white pepper, chocolate and raspberry palate and nose with a peppery finish. ****

Herdade dos Grous 2008 “23 Barricas”, meaning 23 barrels.  This is mainly a Syrah based wine with a little Touriga Nacional thrown in to keep the local flair in the bottle.  Elegant with spicy, smoky and bacony notes while remaining black fruited on the palate. ****

Quinta das Apegadas 2007 Velhas Grande Reserva; here’s a wine that takes the majority of its blend from Port grapes: Touriga Nacional and Touriga Franca.  It spends 18 months in new French oak and has big flavour and big smells.  This was my number 2 ranked wine of the show. ****½

I did not try too much in the white wine department, but I was recommend the whites from Terra D’Alter, and what a find they were.  All four of these wines were made in stainless steel to retain their fruit and freshness – and it is that which impressed me the most.  2009 Arinto – fresh and fruity; 2009 Alvarinho – loads of pineapple; 2009 Verdelho – lively, fresh and fruity; 2009 Fado white – most complex of the four, peach/pear on the palate with the addition of pineapple, absolutely lovely.  The first three rated 4-stars, while the Fado was a 4½-star delight.

Also from the Terra D’Alter winery was a wonderful red, blending new and old world styles.  Petit Verdot, Syrah and Afrocheiro made up the blend on this one; each variety spent 18 months in new American oak (that’s an oak you hear very little about in this room) – chocolate, black cherry, vanilla, lovely and smooth, very delicious – this one was my favourite red of the afternoon. (****½)

Agri-Roncao 2007 DR Colheita, a blend of four major Port grapes is a dry red delivering the wood, fruit, vanilla and spice – another wine using American oak, sparingly, along with it’s French. ****

Dao Sul 2007 Monte da Cal Reserva will be hitting Vintages (at the LCBO) come July at about $16.95.  This is a wonderful wine that should really impress those with a jones for something interesting.  Blending Aragones, Trincadeira and Alicante Bouschet (indigenous) with Syrah (international) and aged 12 months in French oak gives it a nice fruity flavour, black fruit, hints of vanilla and a spicy nutmeg note.  Very nice.  ****

Two wines from Quinta do Quetzal were very good, excellent in fact, garnering the best 1,2 score for any one winery – meaning I tried 2 wines and both received the same 4½ stars.  The 2008 Quetzal Reserva White had pineapple, peach, fresh pear and hints of vanilla; only 6 months in oak, this wine finished beautifully in the mouth – I finished the glass without spitting.  The 2007 Quetzal Reserva Red spent 6 months in barrel and 12 months developing in bottle, and what a delicious development.  Smooth black raspberry, vanilla, plum, spice all come together ending with a powerful peppery finish. (both wines ****½)

Soberanas, this is the guy that told me his wine was not corked – I would have walked away right there and then but the two wines he poured me previous to that were very good.  The 2006 XS, a blend of five indigenous grapes aged 12 months in French oak had lots of vanilla and cherry fruit wrapped in wood; the 2004 Sobranas (which uses the exact same grapes as the above wine) had a touch of dried fruit on the nose but came alove on the palate.  18 months French oak made the finish very wood tannin driven. (both wines ****)

Finally, one producer who always impresses me is Quinta do Infantado, the Ruby never fails to garner 5-stars from me in my Vintages reports and the price makes it a real bargain.  There’s a Tawny Port about to hit the market (April 17, 2010) that’s worth checking out, and will be selling for the steal of a price of $16.95.  You’ll have to line up behind me to get your bottles, only 200 cases will be entering the system.  Look for great acidity amongst the nutty, orange peel and cherry notes (*****).  There is also the 2007 Infantado Red which is still kicking around the system for the reasonable price of $23.95, juicy, plumy and delicious (****½) – you should be picking up a few and lying a couple down for later drinking.


No comments: