25.2.14

Portugal's Plenty Primeira Parte



As you guys already know in recent weeks (or months, actually) I made a couple of palatal journeys to Switzerland. At least one pending part ahead, I'd like to start another palatal trip. This one will bring me to Portugal's Plenty. Today I'd like to start this personal voyage to the Lusitanian wine bounty with vinhos from the two most well know viticulture regions: Dao and Douro. For starters there was the equally famous and very reasonable Tinto from Quinta das Maisas 2008 and the well distributed Casa de Santar Reserva 2003. From Douro a little bit more north I spent a little while with the still very juvenile Terra a Terra Reserva Tinto 2009 and the Teutonically implulsed Campo Ardosa 2003 from Quinta da Carvalhosa. Let's take a peek ...


My fist Dao was something you definitely need to remember. The Quinta das Maisas 2008 is a not so unknown “budget” wine made from 20 % Touriga Nacional and 80 % Jaen (resp. Tinta Mencia) vines originated in the very rain “indulged” foothills (mostly granite soils) of the Serra da Estrela Mountains. Its colour was dark violet'ish red, showed juicy reflexes with a lot of "meat on the bone". The nose was simple but rather pleasing. I got powerful rum cherries, tar, black pepper, some suede and fragrances I'd like to associate with a paper mill(?). On the palate there was plenty of those already mentioned rum pot cherries, strong and mostly clear soil characteristics of granite and a few assumed ones of slate – which were really well integrated, charcoal, a bit dim seeming rugged tannin, a few olives and a wild assortment of rather savage'y spices. Let's not write about complexity. It surely wasn't a subtle wine, but a damn enjoyable one. A decent **** friend with simple structure and pleasurable power well suitable for Monday lunches.

The next Dao came from Casa de Santar. Or more precisely from Pernod Ricard. The 2003 Reserva was a blend of some of Portugal's most beloved varietals Tinta Roiz (resp. Tempranillo), Touriga Nacional and the "robust" Alfrocheiro. Also predominantly cultivated on granite soil. And a bit of slate as well. However its structure and character was far different from the Quinta das Maisas. Its colour was bright and obviously a bit stressed by age. Vitality might be something else, I guess. The nose showed quite a lot of age,too. Tobacco, paprika, traces of cinnamon, hints of oak – old one of course, diffuse and a bit bitter seeming herbs were in the centre of my nasal attention. After about two to three hours even some, 'till this moment rather absent, impressions of fruit arrived. A kind of delicate raspberry / blueberry melange arose from this previously "near death situation". A rather nice, but not really impressive one. The taste evo was pretty much the same. Rather light body, very present acid, certain geriatric evidence, not a lot of complexity, but mostly decent balance and late arriving fruit. Certainly too old. I should have decapitated this one a few years ago. Anyway, still so la-la ***. Maybe something for afternoons which can only get better ...

Off a bit north to the mighty Douro river! My first Douro Blend was the Terra a Terra Reserva 2009 from Celso Pereira and Jorge Alves rather young Sociedade de Vinhos Quanto Terra. Nothing really special to write about: established in 1999, slate soil, pretty typical Douro varietals (40% Touriga Franca, 40% Tinta Roiz, 10% Touriga Nacional and 10% Tinta Barroca) and approximately 12 months aging in French oak. The hue of the Terra a Terra wasn't as tinted as I expected it to be. It was astoundingly transparent, only dark ruby red and full juicy colourful life straight to the rim. The nose was a hell of a potpourri of various very perfumed expressions like dark chocolate, Turkish delight, super spicy dark cherries, milk-coffee, typical Douro herbs – very intense ones, as well as some traces of liquorice. Indeed a very charming, rich, not to hot and obviously really juvenile nose. The taste was similarly expressive and not overpowered. There was strength and slenderness in this blend. One feature of not so few Douro wines I very much appreciate. Some richness, some rum pot, plenty of alcohol – however not in an exaggerated way. The strong mineral characteristics were evident. Of course! The charming choco, coffee etc. flavours provided a surely decent amount of oral pleasure. The tannins were dark and very vital. The finish pretty complex and comfortably long. Even the slight caramel candy features did not provoke displeasure. Well, okay maybe a little bit. Same for some few too accentuated oak influences. Especially some of those coconut flavours, I guess! Anyway, no doubt: the best wine of the evening and surely more than just a nice and decent **** treat. Could be a vital enrichment portion for every working day evening of the week!

My second Douro from Quinta da Carvalhosa, a cooperation established in 2000 by some of the most renowned German winemakers including Bernd Philippi, Georg Breuer and Werner N√§kel was heavily flawed by cork. Structurally is seemed rather nice,  respectable as well as still prospect'able. A Pity!

In the second part of Portugal's Plenty I plan to visit some more remote viticulture areas, the Douro – certainly, and the hot centre! Looking forward ...

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