October Wines of the Month: old Douro varieties from Invencível & Casa Ferreirinha
Sometimes it’s not so very hard to translate Portuguese. Invencível, meaning invincible, is a case in point. And there is a very good argument that the co-founders/co-winemakers of this new Portuguese label (Conceito’s Rita Marques & Boekenhoutskloof’s Marc Kent) are just that.
Equally, you could argue that the Douro’s old field blend vineyards and their multitudinous varieties are an invincible force of nature. Adapted to the high highs and low lows of the Douro’s extreme continental climate, beyond surviving, these vines and grapes bring layers of interest to my October Wines of the Month. Hence Casa Ferreirinha’s new old vine red, ‘Castas Escondidas.’ Translating as ‘hidden varieties,’ it showcases some of the lesser known grape varieties of the Douro Valley.
When I interviewed Boekenhoutskloof’s/Invencível’s Kent for the November edition of Decanter magazine (‘A drink with…’ feature), his excitement about working with old field blend vineyards was palpable. According to the winemaker, South Africa never planted field blends but, “picking varieties at different ripeness for a spectrum of flavours, tannin maturity and complexity,” he has found it “cool to work with such a broad palette.”
And, he ruefully admitted, it has been a learning process. His enthusiasm for foot-stomping at Invencível was soon curbed. “At Boekenhoutskloof, he told me, “my fixation is extraction. Douro old field blend tannins come so naturally. More tannin from less ripe grapes. Different varieties, different tannins.”
My notes on three wines from each of Boekenhoutskloof and Invencível (which includes a Douro field blend red and Natural Mystic Vinho Verde) will be published on Decanter Premium. For my October Wines of the Month, I have singled out Invencível’s Douro white which is a great buy at the RRP of £21.75, let alone The Wine Society’s price of £14.95. I enjoyed the benefits of membership of this mutual organisation and bought six bottles.
Companhia de Vinhos Invencível Invincible número dois Vinho Branco 2019 (Douro DOC)
The elevation and granite soils of this field blend from 90+ year old vineyards shine through in the green glints and grapefruity drive. With Rabigato, Códega, Donzelinho Branco, Boal and Códega do Larinho in the mix, it’s no one trick pony. Flavoursome, nutty, savoury layers and stone fruits flesh out the backbone of acidity, providing ample pleasure right here, right now. Lifted lime zest, dried honey and struck match nuances draw you in, as does its tangy, cheesy bite. Drinking well three days, it has time in hand if you can resist it. Invincible número dois was aged for 10 months in used French Oak barriques. 12.6% £14.95 at The Wine Society
Casa Ferreirinha `Castas Escondidas’ Tinto 2018 (Douro DOC)
From a vintage which I like very much for its freshness, ‘Castas Escondidas’ dances a lively tune. Its marked freshness lends vivacity to the palate, whose savoury, mineral flavours of liquorice, a touch of Nebbiolo-like roast chestnut, graphite and schist hold sway over the black fruits. Fine, powdery tannins and precise, mineral acidity make for a persistent, well-honed finish. The varietal shopping list is as precise as the wine, comprising 18% old vine field blend grapes with 18% Tinta Amarela, 15% Touriga Femea, 14% Tinta Francisca, 12% Tinto Cão, 10% Touriga Nacional, 9% Touriga Franca, 2% Bastardo and 2% Marufo Tinto. Sourced from a range of vineyards, including the 22-hectare Tapada do Castanheiro estate in the Meda area of the Douro Superior and long-term trusted Cima Corgo growers, grapes were destemmed and crushed and moved to stainless-steel vats for fermentation at controlled temperatures. A long post-fermentation maceration ensured optimum extraction of colour and flavour and rounded out the tannins. The wines were then moved to used French oak barrels and aged in cellars in Vila Nova de Gaia for around 18 months. 13.5% RRP £44.99; imported by Liberty Wines