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First taste: Casa Ferreirinha Barca Velha 2008

I was pleased to hear that Sogrape is now distributing its brands in the UK through Liberty Wines.  I know the importer very well on account of their exceptional portfolio of Australian premium and super-premium wines (check out Wednesday’s post for two great examples – my February Wines of the Month). Wines which are well represented in leading independents and restaurants. I’ve every confidence they can do the same for Portugal now that Sogrape’s brands considerably beef up their offer.

I’m not just talking range (Portuguese Sogrape brands include Quinta de Azevedo and Morgadio da Torre Alvarinho from Vinho Verde, Quinta do Carvalhais from Dão, Herdade do Peso from Alentejo and Casa Ferreirinha and Sandeman Port from the Douro).  Beefing up also comes in the form of Portugal’s two most famous wines – polar opposites Mateus Rosé and Douro icon Barca Velha.

Team Sogrape winemakers from Liberty’s ‘New Estates’ out in force: Luís Cabral de Almeida (Herdade do Peso), Luís Sottomayor & Antonio Braga (Casa Ferreirinha), Beatriz Beatriz Cabral de Almeida (Quinta dos Carvalhais)

The latest vintage of Barca Velha – the 2008 – was launched in the UK at Liberty’s portfolio tasting last month.  Its maker, Luis Sottomayor, confided he always takes a case of Mateus Rosé on holidays – perfect after a day on the beach, he said.  But it’s clear where his passion lies.  He watched me hawk-like as I tasted the Barca Velha.  And was most satisfied when I did not spit….

Here are my notes:

Casa Ferreirinha Barca Velha 2008 (Douro)

Quinta da Leda, Douro Superior – the chief fruit source

This is the 18th release of Barca Velha since the first, in 1952.  This blend of 50% Touriga Franca, 30% Touriga Nacional, 10% Tinta Roriz, 10% Tinto Cão encapsulates everything I like about this mild vintage perfectly.    Its well-defined black fruit, freshness and notable spiciness.  But being Barca Velha, as you would expect, it bristles with youthful potential – even in its 9th year.  An impressive feat.  A cool, very poised, elegant palate shows terrific intensity (rather than density) of tight-knit black (currant, some berry) fruit, a charge of sweet, ripe, super-fine tannins and tremendous perfume – fruit and oak spice (clove, anise) – to the back palate. This Barca Velha has wonderful resonance to its long lingering palate – there’s so much more to come.  Doubtless, it will be delivered with like restraint and finesse.   A true classic, with great pedigree and effortless balance.   It was aged for 16 months in 225-litre new French oak barrels.    14% abv UK RRP £282

Casa Ferreirinha Reserva Especial 2007  (Douro)

I last tasted this wine at its London launch in 2015, when we also tasted a plethora of other releases and vintages from this esteemed Douro estate (including the previous 2004 vintage of Barca Velha) – click here for my report.  The 2007  – another mild year, but more floral and red-fruited in my book – is opening up rather nicely, revealing the vintage’s floral notes as well as hints of the iodine, mushroom and leather notes so typical of Quinta da Leda.  This Douro Superior estate is the chief fruit source for this wine and Barca Velha.  These notes follow through in the mouth which reveals a melange of ripe red berry, blueberry and dried fig fruit with a lively rhubarb note – a colour pop!  Lovely lift and fluidity going through, which makes for a very long, seamless finish.  With ripe, sweet but fine grained, spicy tannins Reserva Especial 2007 is deliciously mouthfilling, heady and complex without ever losing focus or line.  I could happily drink this now, but expect it to age well for another 10 years plus.  (You can read my notes on the 94 & 86 vintages here). 14% UK RRP £125

Follow these links for my notes on other Casa Ferreirinha tastings:

Barca Velha 2004

Barca Velha 2000

Barca Velha 1999

Barca Velha 1982

Barca Velha 1981

Quinta Leda vertical 1997-2014

Quinta da Leda Vinha da Ribeira 2004

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