Laithwaites press tasting: my Portuguese picks

Congratulations to The Wine Society, who won the International Wine Challenge Portuguese Specialist of the Year Award 2012 this month.  Featuring many of the country’s top names, their range of Portuguese wines goes from strength to strength.

Last year’s winners, Laithwaites, were runners up and, on the day of the awards ceremony, the mail order/online merchant hosted its Autumn/Winter Press Tasting. Portuguese Wine Buyer Anne Forrest told me that Portuguese wines now regularly feature in the company’s mixed monthly cases. Of the nine Portuguese wines (including fortifieds) shown, here are my stand outs:

Quinta do Casal Branco Fernao Pires/Sauvignon Blanc 2011 (VR Tejo)

This is quite a rich, ripe, spicy white with orange peel, fleshier peach and herbal notes. A flavoursome bang for buck white wine at £7.99.

Quinta de Porrais Douro White 2011 (DOC Douro)

This blend of 45% Rabigato & 55% Codega do Larinho hails from a vineyard at 600m, relatively high for the Douro. It was once owned by the doyenne of the Douro, Dona Antonia Ferreira. An astute woman who became one of the region’s biggest landowners, she also counted Quintas do Vesuvio, do Vallado and do Vale Meão among her acquisitions. Her great-great-great-grandson, Francisco Javier de Olazabal of do Vale Meão used to make the wine from Porrais but the estate now belongs to José Luis Oliveira da Silva of Casa Santos Lima in Lisboa, who made this wine.  It’s a classic Douro white –  quite characterful – with a salty, mineral edge and hint of struck match to its yellow plum fruit.  Doubtless thanks to the altitude of the vineyard, it has good balancing acidity.  Intriguingly, it comes in a flute bottle.  12.5%  £11.99

Adega de Redondo Albarrada 2011 (VR Alentejo)

This, the cheapest wine of the three, was also my favourite table wine.  A great example of the Castelão grape and what the Alentejo region can do at a price point.  It’s loaded with rich, ripe chocolatey raspberry ripple flavours.  Velvety smooth tannins make for an attractive mouthfeel.  Fruity but warm and earthy too, just like the region, it’d be perfect  on its own or with hearty autumnal fare.  £6.99

Andresen 10 Year Old White Port

This family-owned and run Port Wine House is particularly known for its wood-aged Ports (tawnies, colheitas, white Ports) and was the first to register an age-dated white Port. This is a glorious example, with a fine nose of demerara and barley sugar, notes which follow through together with richer nougat and peanut brittle on an intense but delicate extremely well balanced palate with a fine nutty spine. Just lovely. 20% A great buy at £13.99 (50cl)

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