50 Great Portuguese wines: 2005
Richard Mayson has written widely about Portuguese wines and port. He was invited to select 50 great Portuguese wines for this new annual tasting for the trade and press. These were my favourites:
Dirk Niepoort Batuta 2001: this has to be my favourite Portuguese red, actually a favourite red full stop! Whilst most Douro wines showcase the powerhouse which is the heady Touriga Nacional grape variety, Dirk Niepoort’s top wine focuses on Tinta Amarela with supporting roles from Tinta Roriz and Touriga Franca. Supple and elegant with well balanced acidity, Batuta shows red and black fruits with chocolate and mineral undertones. Long, lingering, layered finish… seductive stuff and, probably as well for me it’s rare as hens’ teeth because it costs c£45, if you can find it.
The Symington Family Chryseia 2001: Bruno Prats of Cos d’Estournel is the winemaker here and hints of exotic spice (coriander seed and orange peel) are common to both wines. This blend of Tourigas Nacional & Franca with Tintas Roriz & Cao has gorgeous, lifted spicy red and black fruits, good acidity and a long persistent finish – elegant for a Douro. Costs around £25 at The Wine Society.
Ramos Pinto Duas Quintas Reserva 2000: a blend of Touriga Nacional and Tinta Barroca, a great example of the former’s pronounced violet and dark chocolate notes; great depth of black fruits with fine grained tannins and good balance. c£22.00
Evel Grande Escolha 2001: not as powerful as its predecessor, but great varietal character, very approachable and good value at c£12.99
Poeira 2003: I met winemaker Jorge Moreira in Portugal last year at Quinta de la Rosa where he is also winemaker. Poeira is his own project. Both wines share Jorge’s understatedness and just like I’m sure Jorge never lost his cool in the challenging heat of the 2003 vintage, neither does the wine. Elegant and precise winemaking with Touriga’s lush notes allied to a tight structure.
Quinta do Crasto D. Maria Teresa 2001: as flamboyant as Poeira is restrained, bags of rich, ripe, chocolately fruit with a serious lick of new oak showing in its gingerbread and vanilla sugar notes. c £35.00
Quinta de la Rosa 2003 (cask sample): rich with chocolates and violets yet with Jorge Moreira’s trademark elegance – very classy – c£9.99
Dao Sul Quinta de Cabriz Escolha 2003: the Dao is more temperate than Douro and this is immediately apparent in a more lifted, fragrant nose and well-balanced acidity. Good.
Luis Pato Pe Franco 2003: one bunch of Baga grapes per vine, this is a realisation of a dream for Luis. Simultaneously vibrant, yet closed it has terrific extract, fine grained tannins and balanced acidity – very polished it almost slides off the palate – will be terrific when it starts to open out. c. £75.00
Quinta de Pancas Premium 2000: another winery I visited – very lush, supple reds and this Touriga Nacional/Syrah blend was no exception – supple, open-knit with Syrah’s plummy fruit and Touriga’s chocolate and violets.
Quinta do Monte d’Oiro Reserva 2000: a good Cote Rotie style blend of syrah and viognier with smoky bacon on the nose and an expressive, well-balanced palate with sweet red and black fruits, smoky cobnuts and exotic lychee and orange peel – smoother tannins than Aussie versions. c. £20.00
Terras so Sado
JP Vinhos Quinta da Bacalhoa 2001: a Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot – elegant, classy, good balance, nice chocolate notes. c. £10.99
Mouchao 2000: dried herbs and a deep seam of black fruit suggestive of the Rhone, this is an accomplished, structured blend of Alicante Bouschet and Trincadeira.
Esporao Alicante Bouschet 2002: this red-fleshed french crossing produces deeply coloured wines and, in Portugal, has the guts to match. Good depth of flavour with succulent red and black fruits, tobacco notes and present but ripe tannins. c£9.99
The Wine Detective