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Essência do Vinho Porto 2019 – Top Ten Competition & new finds

Revista de Vinhos’ Top 10 Portuguese Wines

Judging Revista de Vinhos’ Top 10 Portuguese Wines competition at ‘Essência do Vinho – Porto 2019, in the beautiful Salão Árabe hall of Palácio da Bolsa.

I spent the last week in Portugal, judging at Revista de Vinhos’ Top 10 Portuguese Wines competition at Essência do Vinho Porto wine fair, followed by Simplesmente Vinho and visits in Lisboa with Simplesmente Vinho vignerons.  A jam-packed week!  In this post, I focus on Essência do Vinho Porto highlights.

Revista de Vinhos’ Top 10 Portuguese Wines

As the grand setting in the Salão Árabe hall of Palácio da Bolsa (pictured top) suggests, this competition is designed to highlight Portugal’s vinous glitterati. Since I last judged there, over 10 years ago,  the wine scene has changed dramatically, with the rise of white wines, the quality renaissance (now being firmly embraced countrywide) and growth of ‘out of the box’ wines.

I was really excited to see this reflected in a shortlist of 57 terrifically diverse wines selected from Revista de Vinhos magazines’ top rated wines of last year.  This diversity really enhanced the judging experience – I appreciated each style all the more.

Essência do Vinho Porto 2019 Top Ten Wines

Essência do Vinho Porto 2019 – Top Ten winners

Fifty judges from 11 countries selected the Top 10, which awards three whites wines, three fortified wines and four red wines.   And the winners were:


First place Principal Grande Reserva 2011 (Bairrada) – an oxidative but powerful white, which put me in mind of a white Hermitage.

Second place Wine & Soul Guru 2016 (Douro) – grapefruity, with riper citrus and spicy oak notes, a hint of tangerine peel.  Long finish.

Third placeCozs Vp – Vital 2017 (Vinho de Portugal) – a Jura-like nose and palate, reduced and very energetic, with salty/salted butter notes.  Long and linear.


Essência do Vinho Porto 2019 Top Ten Wines

White and red runners up Sandra Tavares da Silva (Wine & Soul Guru 2016) and Susana Esteban (Procura 2014) pose with red wine winner Jorge Rosas (Quinta da Touriga-Chã 2016)

First place Quinta da Touriga-Chã 2016 (Douro) – a very supple Douro red, creamy almost with bergamot jelly bean lift, juicy fruits of the forest and smooth tannins.

Second place Susana Esteban Procura Vinhas Velhas 2014 (Alentejo) – a youthfully tight nose and brooding palate which put me in mind of a velvet curtain with pin holes of light, which point to a long future ahead.  Terrific spice (clove, cardamom), damask perfume and minerality, the fruit concentrated but very well defined.

Third placeAzores Wine Company Sabor(z)inho by António Maçanita 2015 (Pico, Azores) – very pale and postively Pinot-esque (rustic Pinot-esque), with bracken, mulch and catering chocolate notes to its crunch red berry and pomegranate fruit; fine, pithy tannins and fresh , salty acidity make for a persistent finish.

Fourth placeSogrape Vinhos Quinta dos Carvalhais Único 2015 (Dão) – inky, elegant florals and fruit, with a lively, very youthful parry of acid and (building) tannin, with mulchy, sous bois undertones.  Lots of interest.


First place Dow’s Vintage Port 2016 (Porto) – classic Dow’s – firm, with fine tannins, great length and persistence to its Earl Grey Tea-edged palate.

Second place Taylor’s Vintage Port 2016 (Porto) – consistently at the top of my list for this vintage – tight-knit, very deep and pure fruited, with great precision and elegance.

Third place Barbeito Boal 40 Anos Vinho do Embaixador (Madeira) – lifted and long – as long and piercingly precise as an Olympic gold medal winning javelin throw, with plenty of back palate tobbaco and black tea resonance.  Spellbinding.

It was a very strong line up.

Other highlights, new finds

Herdade do Portocarro Gerónimo 2017 (Península de Setúbal) – a mineral, savoury and intense blend of 52% Galego Dourado, 48% Sercial, with lively acid drive.

Barbeito Verdelho 2017 (Madeirense) – a terrific debut from Ricardo ‘dynamic’ Diogo, pithy and grapefruity, with a surprising delicacy for Verdelho (but perhaps not the winemaker).

Quinta da Serradinha Encruzado e Arinto 2016 (Lisboa) – it’s rare to find Encruzado outside the Dão and Antonio Marques de Cruz has a great touch with it – salty, savoury, a little cheesy, with plenty of complexity, structure and drive.

Quinta da Pellada Primus 2015 (Dão) – terrific depth, with subtle honeycombe/nuttiness, lively grapefruit and beautiful balance.

Essência do Vinho Porto 2019 - Top Ten Portuguese Wines

Luís Leocádio of Titan, Douro

Titan Vale Dos Mil 2016 (Douro) – I first encountered Titan wines at Encontro com Vinhos e Sabores last November.  Made by talented young winemaker Luís Leocádio, I was impressed.  From an aged field blend vineyard close to Beira Interior, the soils are schist, granite and quartz.  With stone fruits close to the kernel, it has a bitter, nutty edge, but great intensity, power and drive to its firm quince, green apple peel and citrus fruit.  Long with lovely (quinine) minerality.

Fita Preta Fina Flor NV (Alentejo) – like the name suggests, this is a sherry-like solera wine, with Jura-like acid-drive to its super salty, salted almond palate.  Lip-smacking stuff!

Essência do Vinho Porto 2019 - Top Ten Portuguese Wines

Fita Preta Fina Flor NV

Quinta da Falorca Noblesse Oblige Red 2011 (Dão) – a rich, deep palate, with perfumed blueberry, dried fig and kid glove, yet well structured and dry.

Duorum O. Lecura 2012 (Douro) – so very Douro in its schistous, mineral delivery with concentrated plum, blackcurrant and wilder bilberry fruit.  Long, very persistent with orange blossom lift to the finish.  With ripe but assertive tannins to its bright fruit, it’s still a youngster.

Herdade do Rocim Crónica 328 José Ribeira Vieira Reserva 2015 (Alentejo) – rich, perfumed and gamy, with leather and balsamic complexity to its concentrated black fruits and dried fig.  Weighty, but lovely persistence and harmony.

Quinta do Portal Portal Quinta dos Muros Vintage Port 2016 (Porto) – beautiful aromatics with bergamot, bergamot jelly bean and deep reserves of black currant and berry fruit, well supported by fine, mineral tannins. Precision finish.

If you enjoyed reading this, check out my post about those 10 Portuguese wines which have most excited me since I have been writing about Portuguese wines:

Encontro com Vinhos e Sabores 2018: 10 Most Impressive Portuguese Wines

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  1. Roman Mikhaylov

    Cozs Vp – Vital 2017 seems to be pretty unique wine, the one which got one of maximal scores in my notebook during blind tasting. I believe Sarah, that you picked this wine as well !

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