May Wines of the Month: Quinta do Montalto & Casa da Passarella
Usually, I select my Wines of the Month from wines tasted during the previous month. Inevitably, I tasted very much less wine than usual in April. Having written up the biggest highlight (Henschke’s top tier 2015 reds) already in this comprehensive post, I’ve cast my mind back earlier, focusing on Portugal.
Quinta do Montalto Não Condenado (Uncondemned) Medieval White 2018 (Encostas d’Aire, Lisboa)
Casa da Passarella Villa Oliveira Vinha das Pedras Altas 2014 (Dão)
As I was writing up recommendations for my Decanter Dão Regional Profile, I realised how much more thrilling I’m finding the region’s red wines lately. Conforming much more closely with my hopes and expectations of this classic region, they majored on perfume, freshness, structure and elegance. For a stellar example, look no further than this, my top scoring red. I particularly enjoyed its terrific structure, persistence and grape-driven (not oak-driven) spice and tannin. Like many of my recommendations (red and white), it showcases the complexity of old field blend vineyards – in this case, 85-years-old. Having tasted it over three days, I contacted Paulo Nunes and mentioned that it reminded me of Caves São João Porta dos Cavaleiros Reserva Seleccionada 1975, which I’d tasted shortly before. To which the winemaker replied that there might be a link because, “Passarella sold a lot of wine to Caves São João in the past.” I would not be surprised if it ages as well. The clue to its structure, a certain austerity even, lies partly in the name. Sourced from Vinha das Pedras Altas, at 700m altitude on classic granite soils, it is the highest of Passarella’s seven vineyards with, said Nunes, the greatest thermal amplitude and marked exposure to northern winds. As for the winemaking, it was fermented with whole bunches and aged for a year in 600l barrels. Opaque, with a deeper hue than other samples, yet lifted and elegant, with inky florals and spicy fragrance. In the mouth, it reveals hints of orange peel, lavender and earth to its dark berry, cherry and plum fruit and, most especially strident (thrillingly so) spices – smoky clove and deep-seated white pepper going through, with sweeter incense spices on the finish. Aromas I associate with traditional Dão wines. Despite its youthful sense of austerity – big-boned tannins and juice, rather than flesh – with tremendous depth and length, it is very balanced and complete. On day two, the earthy, mineral dimension is more evident and I loved the crescendo of pine needle and smoky clove to the deep, resonant finish. 13.5% Casa da Passarella are imported into the UK by Enotria & Coe