Muxagat: highlights, including two summery Douro wines
After a super quick dip in the Sea of the Hebrides earlier this month (much better to stay in the kayak!), I enjoyed my first wild swim of the year yesterday. In the rather more genteel Kenwood Ladies’ Pond! Summer seems to be upon us at last and, with sunshine forecast all week, here are a couple of summery stars from the Douro Superior.
Muxagat’s Riesling & Rosé are hardly the usual suspects, coming from the Douro’s warmer, drier reaches. However, when altitude comes into play, I’ve learned to expect the unexpected from the Douro Superior. Here are my notes and on my picks of the classic range.
Incidentally, since I last wrote about Muxagat (earlier reports here and here), ownership of the project has changed. Mateus Nicolau de Almeida is no longer involved, though he is now making wines under his own, eponymous label, including these excellent single vineyard Rabigato whites. Muxagat wines are made with consultancy from Luis Seabra and Muxagat wines are imported into the UK by Indigo Wines.
Muxagat Riesling 2015 (VR Duriense)
This medium sweet, fine Riesling looks the part and tastes the part. It hails from a 15 year old one hectare vineyard at 600m above sea level and was cool fermented (naturally) then aged on lees for 9 months in stainless steel tanks. It has a tightly focused, yet expressive nose with citrus, lime blossom and honey, which notes follow through on a very juicy palate, with tart apple and lime juice spiked sweet apple sauce. As you would expect from the style and origin, it is rounder than its cooler climate German sisters, but it retains line, length and animation. On day two, it remains fresh and fine, with delicate elderflower and lime blossom perfume to its fruit. Lingering. 8% Residual Sugar 49 g/l, pH 2.93.
Muxagat Rosé 2016 (DOC Douro)
A 50:50 blend of Tinta Roriz and Touriga Nacional, the grapes for this dry, textural rosé come from 15 year old vines at Quinta Vale Cesteiros at 400m. The grapes were gently pressed in a vertical press and fermented and aged for 9 months 50:50 in oak barrels and stainless steel vat on lees with batonnage. It reveals plum/cherry skin and fruit flavours with a lick of strawberry soda to nose and palate. With body, a savoury (nutty lees) creaminess, it reveals a Provence- like lingering mineral, aniseed/fennel undertow. On day two it’s still going strong, with a quince-like firmness to its core and a subtle aldehydic (?) kick, which makes for a certain energy. Very well done. Provençal, not provincial. 13.5%, 2g/l residual sugar.
Muxagat Os Xistos Altos Rabigato 2015 (DOC Douro)
I’ve always like this assertive, characterful single varietal Rabigato from 25 year old vines at 500m. After over-night cooling at 5ºC, the grapes were (vertically) pressed and the juice settled in a subterranean concrete vat for 24 hours. The juice was then decanted into an eastern Europe oak vat and cement egg where it fermented and aged on lees for 18 months. Surprisingly given the fermentation vessels, it has a vanillin edge to it quinine and sweet white apple fleshed palate, with nuances of fresh lime, cucumber and salsify. Lovely concentration and energy with that subtly aldehydic (?) kick, here almost like Calvados. On day two, it retains tension and focus, showing quince, ripe lemon/lemon peel and lemon verbena. Bristles with energy. Very good. 12.5%
Muxagat Tinto 2014 (DOC Douro)
A blend of 60% Touriga Nacional, 35% Touriga Francesa and 5% Sousão from a parcel in Muxagat at 250m altitude and another in Meda at 550m altitude. The grapes were foot-trodden and fermented in granite lagares for several days. The wine was aged for some 14 months in French oak barrels. With its rich, chocolate and bergamot-edged dark fruit – blackberry, plum and succulent black cherry – it has a Douro Superior smoothness/glossiness, but a freshness too. Fine grained, sooty tannins with subtle cedar oak make for a velvety, soft finish. 14.5%
Muxagat Cisne 2013 (DOC Douro)
This Tinta Cão intrigued from the off (my notes on the 2010 here). It’s good to taste it with some bottle age because the variety demands it. The grapes hail from 15 year old vines at Quinta de Vale Cesteiros, at 500m. Whole cluster grapes were very gently foot-trodden and fermented in granite lagares for six days then pressed to 2000 litre wooden vats, where the wine was aged for a minimum of 2 years. It’s a real character, with lashings of perfumed incense spice, orange peel, a hint of green/dried herbs and dried rose florals as it unfurls. Inveigling, sinewy tannins and coursing acidity running through its veins lend it a dynamism – marked structure and energy. On day two, its chocolate-edged kirsch and red berry fruits are more assertive. This is a baby, with lots yet to come. Well worth stashing this away; for now, decant. 13.5%