March Wines of the Month: two wild Portuguese things
It has been hard to select my March wines of the month. This post comes hot on the heels of Simplesmente Vinho wine fair in Oporto, where I tasted a HUGE number of impressive wines of exciting individuality. Some 70 wines and one gin made from distilled Alvarinho – my highlights – appear in this Friday’s post.
Here are the two which made the cut for my March Wines of the Month. They epitomise the creative, free-spirited vibe of this annual event:
Phaunus Pétillant-Naturel Brut 2016 (Ponte de Lima, Vinho Verde)
Vasco Croft of Aphros recently released a second label, Phaunus, for wines made the old fashioned way. So the espumante is a Pet Nat, with no added sugar or filtration (so a bit cloudy). It captures the Loureiro grape perfectly with its pretty, lifted nose and palate. Fresh and summery, it has a delicate touch of phenolics and a super persistent ‘seasoning’ saline bead. Both of which help you to hold onto, chase even, this sparkling wine’s fleet of foot ephemeral flavours – white flowers and the juices of lime, succulent melon, pear and cucumber, which gently sluice the palate. Encouraged by it, Croft plans to use no added yeast or sugar for his classic espumante; a dash of dried grapes will provide the requisite sugar naturally. It is imported and sold retail in the UK by Les Caves de Pyrene and I notice that Taberna do Mercado list the first 600 bottle release – the 2015. The good news is that there’s more of the 2016.
Terras de Tavares Rufia! White 2015 (Dão)
It was a toss up between this wine and Druida 2015, also from the Dão (my note is in Friday’s post), but this just edged ahead because it’s so individual; edgier in fact. And it impressed me with a density and concentration which is uncommon in many of the un-sulphured/low sulphured wines I have tried from Portugal. And perhaps because it made a fine companion for Bacalhau à Brás on a sunny day on the Ribeiro with the scent of the Atlantic in the air! At any rate, this is an impressive first crack at a white wine under João Tavares de Pina’s Rufia! label. Yellow gold and slightly (deliberately) cloudy, this un-oaked white had brisk, salty, mineral intensity which animates a powerful palate with sensations of dried stone fruit (apricot), straw and nuts. Lovely freshness – great energy – going through. A wine with great palate presence. It is made (like all Tavares de Pina’s wines) from his elevated 500-550m vineyard at Quinta da Boavista in Penelva do Castello on granite, schist and clay soils. The whites are a blend of 20% old field blend fruit and roughly equal proportions of Encruzado, Bical, Cercial, Malvasia and Arinto. 12.5% Terras de Tavares’ wines are imported into the UK by Mondino Wines.