Douro: Dona Berta Reserva Branco Rabigato 2016 & Tinto Reserva 2013
Whilst Portugal Boutique Winery’s contemporary labels have hipster appeal, fellow Douro producer Dona Berta’s labels strike a classical pose. And, sure enough, the people behind the wines could not have been more different when I encountered them during The Yeatman Christmas Experience – I love this photo of Maria Fernanda Verdelho, wife of Dona Berta’s late founder, Eng. Hernâni. But I have a feeling the wines will appeal to the same audience – I particularly enjoyed Dona Berta’s unpushed, medium-bodied red.
Hernâni travelled the world as an engineer, but was originally from the Douro. Some 40 years ago he established Dona Berta in Freixo de Numão, near Vila Nova de Foz Côa in the Douro Superior, planting a 15ha new vineyard at Quinta do Carrenho. The Centenarian range, which I have not (yet) tasted comes from 2ha of pre-phylloxera vineyards with varieties I’d not previously heard of, including Casculho, Cornifesto, Tinta Raiz and Silveirinha. Always something new (or rather old) to discover in Portugal….
Speaking of new, Dona Berta lays claim to making Portugal’s first single varietal Rabigato. Incidentally, on the same visit I experienced this Douro white variety’s striking terroir-translucency tasting three single site Rabigatos made under Mateus Nicolau de Almeida’s exciting new Douro Superior Hermit label which I’m sure we’ll taste on the Miles Away Douro tour which I’m leading in May.
Here are my notes on the Dona Berta wines which are made by Professor of oenology and winemaker Virgílio Loureiro:
Dona Berta Reserva Branco Vinhas Velhas Rabigato 2016 (Douro Superior, Douro)
This unoaked fresh white comes from vines located at 500m. Lees-ageing and batonnage lend creamy/leesy roundness and depth of flavour. It has an attractive saline character, with subtly citrussy but persistent acidity, gently earthy, green olive/vegetal undertones and an inipient (oxidative) nutty note. 14%
Dona Berta Reserva Tinto 2013 (Douro Superior, Douro)
This blend of Tinta Roriz, Touriga Nacional, Tinta Barroca, Tinto Cão and Touriga Franca was sourced from vines ranging from 400-600m. This is a really Pinot-esque Douro red, with an accent on red currant, cherry and berry fruit and delicious earthy, truffle nuances, a hint of resin too. Ruffled tannins and a long, elegant, persistent finish complete the picture. Lovely, un-pushed wine, only part of which was aged in oak. Drinking beautifully now. 14%