My top five wines of the year: Portugal

The end of the year is an opportunity to reflect on which wines made the most lasting impression.  On Tuesday and Wednesday, I  revealed my top five Australian and Loire wines.  Today it’s Portugal’s turn.

Five wines might seem fairly paltry after the unveiling of  My 50 Great Portuguese Wines 2010  in February.  This selection was finalised last December since when I’ve tasted many more wines, including another very exciting vintage in the Douro (2008).  But did any 50 Great wines also sneak into my top five?  Check out the list below.  And what about you? Why not post a comment with your top five Portuguese wines of 2010?

Afros Vinhão 2009 (Vinho Verde)

Anyone reading these pages knows what a huge fan I am of Vinho Verde, especially its Alvarinhos, however I’ve opted for a red Vinho Verde as my pick of the year. Not just because it’s a terrific wine, but also because it highlights one of Portugal’s key strengths, the affinity of its wines for food.  A vivid nose and palate has a chicory edge to its concentrated but sappy cassis and wild berry fruit.  Lees ageing buffers the acidity without losing the freshness or minerality.  Vinhão can be angular, but this is wonderfully svelte  –  a sophisticated match for my char-grilled fillet of salt cod, as was Afros sparkling Vinhão with sardinha de escabeche (pictured).  (Check out my report here of a visit to this biodynamic estate for more great Vinho Verde/food matches).

Pó de Poeira Tinto 2008 (the Douro)

I love the mineral sluiced quality of the Douro’s 2008 vintage and this, the talented Jorge Moreira’s junior red, is a great example of terroir-driven winemaking at an affordable price point.  Silky, so elegant with high definition, mineral-sluiced red and black fruits and a floral lift.  Less is more.  Just gorgeous.

Wine & Soul Guru 2009 (the Douro)

This Douro white launched with a splash, picking up Best White Wine Award at the International Wine Challenge for the maiden 2004 vintage.  And it just gets better and better (see a report of my visit with winemaker Jorge Serôdio Borges here for the background to its increased refinement).  Very saline and fresh on nose and palate, its al dente, lees-edged stone fruits animated by a thrust of minerality/acidity.  Superb balance and length. 

Quinta das Bágeiras Vinho Branco Colheita 1994 (Bairrada)

I selected the 2007 vintage of the Garrafeira, a blend of Maria Gomes/Bical, for My 50 Great Portuguese Wines, which choice was affirmed this year when Dirk Niepoort produced a bottle of the 94 Colheita at a tasting.    As I said of the 2007, Bairrada’s “best whites are built like Paula Radcliffe – lean and mean, at least in their youth” and with, I quote from my notes “UNBELIEVABLE FRESHNESS,” the 94 still has plenty of gas in the tank.  An oilskin/fresh pine needles nose grabs the attention from the off and, with it’s visceral charge of pithy, limey acidity, it just keeps going and going.  Worked briliantly with oysters. 

Filipa Pato Lokal Silex 2008 (Beiras)

This wine, this vintage has the double distinction (I like to think!) of making the cut for My 50 Great Portuguese Wines and My Top Five Portuguese Wines of 2010.  Puts me in mind of a really sexy Loire Cabernet Franc.  Deep crimson with a bright pink rim and a gorgeous floral nose with rock rose and violets, which unfurl on the palate.  A lipsmacking palate shows well-defined, bright and juicy red and black cherry and currant fruit supported by silky tannins.  A beautiful, heady, yet finely honed wine from the talented Filipa Pato.

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  1. Niklas Jörgensen

    Hi Sarah,

    Couldn’t agree more! Vinhão’s are such underrated wines. Love the Quinta de Gomariz 2009-version.

    And that Lokal Silex from Filipa! Still thinking about it. What purity!

    Wishing you a great 2011. Love your writing!

    All the best,

    Niklas

  2. João

    Hi Sarah,

    Just a little correction. The white from Bágeiras is not a Garrafeira, as the first one was made in 2000, but a Colheita.

    The correct name would be Quinta das Bágeiras Vinho Branco Colheita 1994 (Bairrada)

    Best regards and hope to see you again in March.

    Happy hollidays to you,

    João Rico

    • sarah

      João good to hear from you and thanks for letting me know – I’m even more impressed now! Will change the text. All best to you in 2011 and yes, hope to catch up with you too. Sarah

  3. Dahnuia

    Tasted some bottles, courtesy of producer Vasco Croft and realized how nature could work naturally in a wonderful way for this harmonious wine that is distinguished by its red color grenade. It is a unique wine of pronounced character, full bodied and tasty, mouth powerful but smooth, cool fruity, mineral, with a wonderful aroma … simply amazing.
    Here in a natural way, aromas and flavors are amazing and gorgeous acquiring another dimension

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    Nowadays, the possibilities seem endless. One reason, I submit, is that with little access to the classically great wines, yet with a public thirst for greatness that far exceeds that of 30 years ago, importers, distributors, sommeliers and consumers themselves have been compelled to seek out wines that nobody paid attention to 25 years ago, if they even existed.


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