50 Great Portuguese wines: 2009

The Wine Anorak a.k.a. Jamie Goode spent a good deal of 2008 scouring Portugal for great wines and he and I caught up in November in Portugal for his final trip during my visit to Vinho Verde.  I’m sure he spent almost as long narrowing down the final 50 – not easy – and I thought he really raised the bar, so since I’m making the selection in 2010, I’ve got my work cut out for me!  Here is my pick of the bunch:

Soalheiro Primeiras Vinhas Colheita 2007, DOC Vinho Verde – Struck match, pungent nose.  The palate shows fabulous fruit with creamy fruit salad balanced by lively acidity – the best of Viognier crossed with Riesling!

Covela Escolha 2005, VR Minho – a blend of Touriga Nacional and Cabernet Franc makes for a very pretty, perfumed nose and palate with crunchy red and black fruits, great line and definition.

Valle Pradhinos Reserva 2005 VR Tras-os-Montes – significant toast and vanilla oak but a lovely depth of bright red and black fruits beneath with sturdy fruit tannins giving good grip.

Conceito Bastardo 2007 VR Duriense – very pale but intensely perfumed with dried roses and incense spice; creamy mid-palate shows cherry, chocolate and cranberry; long, dry intense finish.  Love it.   Like Pinot Noir but not – highly individual.

Quinta do Vale D. Maria 2006 Douro – always lush yet fresh with fabulous fruit purity the 06 (not the best of vintages) is no exception – lovely fleshy, succulent black cherry and berry fruits with crushed raspberry and vanilla oak.

Quinta do Crasto Vinha Maria Teresa 2006 Douro – deep, dark, oaky with a heft of brambly, chocolate edged fruit wed to a firm, ripe backbone of tannin; fresh acidity in relief with lifted, violet notes – a long life ahead of this one…,

Quinta do Vale Meao 2005, Douro – distinctive Meao exotic nose with spicy orange peel, warm earth/earthy raspberry; creamy but balanced.  Delicious.

Poeira 2005 – classy and elegant as always with a fine backdrop of tannins supporting juicy berry and cherry fruit, violets and roses.

Quinta de S. Jose 2005 Douro – a cool thread of schistous minerality runs through this, well-defined, dry, pure bright wine alive with red and black sappy fruits; smudgy tannins give bottom.

Quinta de la Rosa Vale do Inferno 2005 Douro – the last vintage from the old vine hotspot by the river (subsequently replanted) and it’s big and bold with brassy top notes of eucalyptus, exuberant fresh black cherry, baked cherry and plenty of spice: clove, cinnamon

Wine & Soul Pintas 2005 Douro – earthy with fresh brambly fruit wed to a firm ripe backbone of tannin; dry, firm, ripe, fresh this is complex, textured – very good.

Quinta da Gaivosa Vinha de Lordelho 2005 Douro – source of some of the Douro’s most distinctive wines this is intense, with warm dust, earth underlying its deep pan black fruits.

Niepoort Robustus 2004 Douro – Robustus is back – I never tasted the original table wine but this is unapologetically robust, primary (in a good way – pure, tight fruit); long, mineral finish.  Love to come back to this down the track.

Quinta da Pellada 2005 Dao – lovely floral, fresh nose with a vibrant, vital palate with wild bilberry, blackcurrent and bramble.  Super digestible; great definition.

Quinta da Pellada Pape 2005 Dao – deep dark hue with an intense core of bright black cherry and berry fruit, lovely perfume, balance for such a big wine.

Quinta da Vegia Reserva 2005 Dao – good depth of flavour with an attractive leesy textural note; great fruit purity and freshness; lovely wine, so great it’s long and lingering!

Dao Sul Vinha do Contador 2005 Dao – very fresh, bright, stony, mineral red; pure and sleek.

Luis Pato Quinta do Ribeirinho Pe Franco 2005 VR Beiras – the flagship Baga and a tour de force – very pure, very fresh, very vital even though it is in the firm clasp of youth – a fabulous levity to this concentrated wine.

Quinta das Bageiras Garrafeira 2005 Bairrada – very leesy smudgy ripe tannins, lively core of fruit with a touch of earthy puy lentils – very good.

Filipa Pato Lokal Silex 2006 VR Beiras – fresh, tight nose and palate, fine and pure with silky red and black fruits.

Quinta do Cardo Seleccao do Enologo 2004 Beira Interior – 100% Touriga Nacional can be a little too slick (plush and lush) for its own good, at least for my palate, but this is finely wrought with fresh, perfumed sour cherry and plum fruit and a hint of wildness.

Quinta dos Currais Reserva 2002 Beira Interior – firm, fresh, focused and fruity with fabulous structure – Gordon “F Word” Ramsay eat your heart out!

Quinta da Lagoalva de Cima Alfrocheiro 2006 VR Ribatejo – great example of this floral, succulent variety – pretty and perfumed with vibrant pomegranate and crunchy redcurrant – a fresh Altantic vibe.

Dona Maria Reserva 2005 VR Alentejo – ex-Carmo co-owner (with Lafite) Julio Bastos is making accomplished wines under his own label marshalling Alicante Bouschet and Petit Verdot in support of freshness – refined, well balanced wine,

Sarah Ahmed
The Wine Detective
28 January 2009



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