Bussaco Palace Hotel: 2015 vintage releases & some golden oldies

Big guns – 2015 Bussaco!

It’s unusual for me to be writing about a young vintage from Bussaco Palace Hotel.  On previous visits I’ve tasted impressive verticals, dating back to 1955 (whites and 1949 (reds). But ‘5,’ according to fellow Baga Friend Luis Pato*, is a magic number for vintages of Bairrada Baga (which is a key constituent of Busacco Palace Hotel’s red wines).  So how did I get along with the 2015s?

You’ll find my notes on the white and red releases below, together with my reviews of older vintages, which were shown at the hotel’s 100th anniversary dinner.  By way of reminder, grapes for these wines are sourced from the hotel’s own vineyards as well as local growers in the Dao and Bairrada. Reservado reds are a blend of Bairrada  Baga and Touriga Nacional from the Dao; Vinha da Mata – a single vineyard red – is more focused on Baga (65% of the blend) because the vineyard is on Bairrada’s chalky clay soils. Whites are a blend of Dao Encruzado with Maria Gomes and Bical from Bairrada.

* Note to readers of last Monday’s post.  I had originally scheduled a post about my visit with Luis Pato, but the irrepressible winemaker is bounding over to London later this month to show Vinha Pan and Vinha Barrosa verticals, so I’ll write all the wines up together afterwards.  Watch this space.

Bussaco Palace Hotel 2015 Vintage

Bussaco Branco Reservado 2015

These days the Reservado is fermented and aged in 100% new 300l French oak barrels.  The 2015 is very pale and smoky (oaky – nice flinty oak), with a super-tight, rapier-like palate streaked with acidity.  Oak and lime zest make for a perfumed palate.  Terrific vim and vigor, line and length.  A baby which should not be broached for another five years and will keep a good deal longer. Excellent.

Bussaco Tinto Reservado 2015

The vintage is readily apparent in the deep hue and dense, ripe fruit (query a touch over-ripe, with meaty, black olive?)  Powerful supporting tannins cradle the fruit and lend a touch of grip to the finish. Another keeper, yet to really show itself.  I look forward to coming back to it down the track.

Bussaco Palace Hotel Back Vintages

2013 Bussaco White in magnum

Bussaco Branco Reservado 2013 (in magnum)

This is the first vintage to be bottled in magnum.  Very grand it looked too.  It is tight, smoky and mineral (saline/mountain pond), with cracked/roast hazelnut notes to its sweet, lemony palate. Lovely clarity, focus and length, with a firm acid backbone for ageing.  Very good.

Bussaco Branco Reservado 2005

One might expect the younger whites to exude youthful potential.  At 12 years old this wine’s youthful brio is impressive.  Tightly focused, lemony, with slightly waxy fruit, but seemingly more austere and mineral than the 2013, with its flinty struck match.  Long, very persistent, with great energy and complexity.  Excellent.

Bussaco Branco Reservado 2001

A markedly deeper hue than the 2005 – deeper than you’d expect given it is only four years older.  Though the fruit profile is more developed in flavour (and breadth) than the earlier vintages, the structure – acid backbone – remains youthfully assertive, with no little drive.  In the mouth it reveals a complex melange of tertiary flavours of honey, lemon verbena, nutty oak and a lively edge of peppermint/pepper tree.  Less poised than the 2005, but plenty of interest here.  Good.

Bussaco Tinto Reservado 2010

I found this wine over-the-line bretty (too much rusticity/soil and iodine).  Shame.

Bussaco Tinto VM Reservado 2001

This blend of Baga and Touriga Nacional hails from a single (Bairrada) vineyard – Vinha da Mata, hence ‘VM’ on the label.  I’ve tasted this wine a couple of times before (click here for my earlier reviews) and it continues to excite me with its seemingly contradictory prettiness and firmness.  Lovely florals (pretty), wed to well-structured, rather imposing tannins and tightly buttoned fruit. Lots of tension.  Emphatic minerality to the finish.  Keep on cellaring….Great potential.  Excellent.

Bussaco Tinto Reservado 1983

Very much following the line of previous tastings, this is a relatively expressive wine, delivering plenty of pleasure if not the precision of top vintages.  Burgundy in hue and nature, it has pronounced oyster shell/iodine to the nose and, in the mouth, generous sweet red cherry and chocolate truffle, with hints of pine needle forest floor/resin and coffee – Camp coffee.  A salty, perfumed finish adds to the intrigue.  In a nice spot.  Good +.

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