50 Great Portuguese wines: 2006

This year it was the turn of Tim Atkin, The Observer wine correspondent, to select his top Portuguese kit.  Here is my very own sub-selection – those with an asterisk will appear at my Portuguese tasting in May.

Whites

Esporao Reserve White 2004 – this blend of Arinto, Antao Vaz & Roupeiro shows a broad, honeyed palate of peach and apricot with spicy toast notes – a good ABC option.

Luis Pato Vinha Formal 2004 – an oak aged Bical – shows all Bical’s typicity with spicy cabbage (think Austria’s Gruner Veltliner grape) augmented by toast and sweet vanilla – much more attractive than it sounds!  Real depth of fruit, well-balanced palate.  Different and very good.

Quinta do Soalheiro Alvarinho 2005 – intense nose of stone fruits and prickly pear which follow through on its fresh ‘n minerally lively palate.  Very good.

Terras do Po 2005 – the very aromatic Fernao Pires grape shows plenty of melon and herbs with tropical nuances (papaya) on the slightly creamy palate; nice length – very good example.

Stella Branco 2005 – an arrestingly dry Muscat which shows plenty of orange peel , ginger and grapiness – fresh and concentrated – very good.

Niepoort Redoma Branco 2004 – I can find this too oaky but in this vintage, the freshness (lemony acidity), citrus fruit and mineral qualities made more than a match for the smoky oak.  Very good, invigorating wine.

Reds

Herdade do Mouchao Tonel 3-4 2001 – I’m a big fan of Alentejo renditions of the French grape, Alicante Bouschet – this has a powerful and pure blast of spicy raspberry fruit with a layer of chocolate notwithstanding which it has good freshness and a mineral undertow – very good.

Malhadinha 2003 – a lovely ripe brambly nose and palate with cinnamon and espresso notes; good fruit purity and supple tannins.  Good.

Marques de Borba Reserva 2003 – very pronounced eucalyptus character to the brambly fruit – good depth, concentration and structure – a keeper (and I’ve tasted older vintages in Portugal – it ages very well). 

Luis Pato Vinha Pan 1995 – the trick with Luis Pato’s Baga (the grape) wines is to drink them when the tannins have mellowed and this is drinking well now – gamey nose, spicy, sweet plum and red fruits, mellow yet elegant, very good.

Quinta da Pellada 2003 – beguiling wine with hints of bay leaf and eucalyptus to its red and black fruits; fresh and elegant – lovely.

Sarah Ahmed
The Wine Detective
January 2006

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