November Wines of the Month: a rare Azorean white & a rare red Douro snip

In the ‘new’ vineyards -Antonio Macanita (l) and Filipe Rocha (r) with Monte do Pico volcano behind.

Rare red Douro snip sounds a touch violent.  In fact it’s a thoroughly green, long certified organic red – my favourite from the Symington’s Altano range.  The Halifax Wine Company have it on a crazy 24% off deal (Altano white too, though this wine is rather ordinary).  Altano Organic Red, on the other hand, smacks most satisfyingly of the Douro.  It’s juicy, fruity, savoury and raring to go – an out and out bargain for £8.75.

Paulo Machado of Azores Wine Company in reclaimed/rebuilt vineyards

As for my rare white, I’m just back from my second trip to the Azores in as many years.  The first was an eye-opener and the second mind-boggling.  In large measure due to Azores Wine Company, the island of Pico is on fire!  Not the type of fire which caused gas explosions this summer in Funchal, Madeira, its Atlantic neighbour.  Rather the metaphorical kind which sparks a revolution.
The company has embarked on a large-scale project (+60ha) to reclaim Pico’s centuries’ old World Heritage listed currais (dry stone walled) vineyards.  Co-founder Paulo Machado (pictured) is in charge of the arduous task of clearing the dense forests (pictured in the background), rebuilding the walls and planting new vines.

Azores Wine Company Arinto dos Açores Sur Lies António Maçanita 2015 (DO Pico)

Winemaker António Maçinita uses the second pressings for greater terroir expression in this middle tier Arinto dos Açores (at the top of the tree he is introducing a very exciting new wine from a single centenarian parcel).  This wine captivated me with, on the one hand, its purity, on the other, its tight, compressed, textural, firm mineral layers – thrilling dry extract.  As you’d expect from this (unique to the Azores) variety, it’s very fresh, salty and citrine with an intriguing firm green edge. Bottled electricity – hydro-electricity that is.  Brisk and penetrating, it certainly captures the unrelenting Atlantic winds and waves which lash Pico island.  13% It will be stocked by UK importer Red Squirrel Wines, UK RRP £40.

Symington Family Estates Altano Organic Red 2014 (Douro)

A deep, bright hue with some rather attractive Rhônish peppery reduction to nose and palate. As it opens up it shows its true hand in the form of Touriga Nacional’s/Douro Superior’s bergamot and fleshy but succulent blood plum fruit and dark berry fruit.  As you’d expect from this vintage it has lovely freshness and persistence. Animated and expressive, it’s very beguiling.  It is a blend of Tourigas Nacional and Franca, Tinta Roriz, Tinta Barroca and Tinta Cão and was aged for 6 months in French oak (all seasoned I imagine).  14%  £8.75 on deal at The Halifax Wine Company.


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