Portuguese Pearls at reception United Vinologists in The Hague
At a reception of the association of united vinologists in the Municipal Museum of the city of The Hague, in the middle of the most unique Mondriaan collection in the world, importer Olaf Kerstens presented the following fine wines from Portugal.
He also commented on the very successful Vintage port campaign 2016; he said it was the most successful campaign EVER and if you would like to put your hands on some Vintage 2016 you better act quickly; in Holland all Vintage 2016 has been sold in the meantime.
Po de Poeira, Douro, 2015 (TSW88) from vineyards which once belonged to Taylor’s, with aromatic nose, lots of freshness, balance and fully made from the indigenous but in the Douro not allowed alvarinho.
The wine is the story of Jorge Moreira who bought this small vineyard in 2001 that nobody else was interested in. The vineyard, however, was planted with very old vines alvarinho and was located directly opposite the famous 'Terra Feita' plot, a permanent component of the blend for Taylor's Vintage Porto.
However, in the minds of most Douro winemakers -including Taylor’s- there was one big problem: the vineyard was oriented to the north and was therefore in the shade for much of the day. To Jorge that was a plus. Most port winemakers were seeking concentration and strength in ripe, sun-drenched grapes. Jorge, on the other hand, wanted to find a solution for the heat so that his grapes could ripen slowly, slow enough to preserve their acidity. To achieve this, the shade was the key.
Tres Bagos, Sauvignon Blanc, 2016 (TSW89) Lavradores de Feitoria, VR Duriense, is made by a group of 18 farmers who are coached by Dirk van den Niepoort. They have some single quinta wines but most of the wines are blended between them. This gives some very interesting results. Jamie Goode called the Tres Bages ‘the Portuguese Cloudy Bay’. Lemon yellow, crystal clear with a perfume of gooseberry, freshly cut grass, passion fruit and Granny Smith. Super juicy in the mouth with mouth watering lime and lemon juice, citrus freshness and length. Delicious with goat cheese, Thai cuisine and meal salads.
The vineyards are located in the Casa de Mateus domaine in Vila Real. If you would see the medieval castle, I am sure you will recognize it. In 1942 the biggest producer of Portugal, Sogrape, was faced with declining sales into Europe because of the war. They decided to design a sparkling rosé for the Brazilian market in a sort of ‘bocksbeutel bottle’ and asked Casa de Mateus whether they could use the Mateus castle and name for this product. Mateus hesitated at first but then accepted; Sogrape offered them to pay a lump sum or with a percentage of sales. Unfortunately, Mateus -unsure about the future sales of a sparkling rosé in a strange bottle to Brasil- went for the lump sum.. And Mateus Rosé went on to become the world’s biggest rosé with sales of almost 30 million bottles per year (equivalent to 40% of total Portuguese wine exports)!
Conde de Ervideira Branco, 2017 (TSW87) Herdade de Ervideira, DOC Alentejo. Made from 100% Antão Vaz, one of the most prized varieties of Alentejo, until recently grown almost exclusively around Vidigueira. Well suited to the warm and sunny climate on the great plains of the Alentejo, it is reliable and productive, consistent in its ripening. The Conde de Ervideira is a full-bodied, well-structured wine and, especially as it is aged in oak, it resembles Burgundy with its exotic stone fruit aromas, tangerine peel and minerality (for a better word), along with good structure and body. If picked early, it gives wines with vibrant aroma and crisp acidity. Left to ripen longer, it can reach high levels of alcohol, making it a good candidate for barrel maturation. It is sometimes blended with Roupeiro and Arinto, which contribute to its acidity.
Quinta dos Carvalhais Reserva Branco, 2013 (TSW90) DOC Dão. Made from a blend of 60% Encruzado and 40% Verdelho. This is a wine from 2013 (!) and late release vintage. The extended evolution in bottle is integral part of the character of this wine. Winemaker Beatriz Cabral de Almeida blends these varieties after pressing, the must, protected from oxidation by inert gases, was subjected to settling at low temperature for a period of 24 hours in order to achieve the desired degree of clarity. It was then sent to a stainless steel tank and fermented with selected yeasts. Part of the Encruzado must was fermented in second fill French oak barrels, and the rest remained in stainless steel. Verdelho's must has been fermented solely in stainless steel. The fermentation took place at 18 °C for a period of about 20 days. What results is an absolute delicious and interesting wine with confit fruits like apricot jam, dried white peach and nuts. Also on the palate, creamy, hazelnutty, almondy with lots of freshness and complexity and length.
Quinta de Manoella Tinto, 2016 (TSW86) made from a blend of Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Roroz and Tinta Francesca. This exceptional quinta located in Vale de Mendiz, in the heart of Douro used to be owned by a family who for generations sold the fruit to the port houses. Then, suddenly it was inherited by a young couple, Sandra Tavares da Silva and Jorge Serôdio Borges, who were winemakers at Niepoort and Cristiano van Zeller. They decided to keep the fruit and make their own. In the vineyard they have old vines from 100 to 120 years old, which were planted directly after the phylloxera by the great-great-grandfather of Sandra, a visionary of the Douro and one of the largest vineyard owners. All wines are fermented in lagares for 8 to 10 days, to control the extraction. The lagares are equipped with a cooling installation that is switched on if necessary. Prior to fermentation, a layer of carbon dioxide is sprayed onto the must or added dry ice. Made from the local grapes Touriga Nacional, Tinta Franca and Tinta Roriz, and Tinta Francisca. Ageing on second fill French oak for 16 months. Purple color with average depth. Fine, elegant scent with lots of blackberries and cherries. Smooth taste, with velvety tannins creating an extremely pleasant mouthfeel. Good length with dried prunes, currants and black cherries, ripe tannins and lots of character.
Meandro 2016 (TSW93) Quinta do Vale Meao DOC Douro. This might be the most famous wine estate of Portugal. I tend to compare it with Vega Sicilia in terms of stature, significance and focus on quality.
In 1998, Fransico Javier de Olazabal left enowned Port House Ferreira to make dry wine with his son in one of the most beautiful vineyards in the Douro. Already in the following year their wine was chosen as the best in Portugal. Since then, Quinta do Vale Meão has been the top of the country.
The Meandro -second wine of the property- is made in a classic style. No screaming wood or sweet notes. Very sophisticated and complex, with lots of spices, licorice, bay leaves, ripe black fruit and gingerbread in the nose. Full bodied but smooth in the mouth. Lots of blackberries and ripe cherries, dried plums, exotic spices and deliciously ripe tannins. Elegant, long, complex; father and son know what they are doing!