A new Algarve find: Quinta dos Lopes Muska 2009
I’m always a little stumped when I’m asked to recommend wines from the Algarve. To date I’ve recommended just one producer, Monte da Casteleja, whose wines were the first I’d encountered from the Algarve which actually tasted like they came from a vineyard, not a winery. On the strength of this delicious fortified Moscatel, I’m delighted to add another to the list (or more accurately, now to have a list!)
And what do you know, like Monte da Casteleja’s Guillaume Leroux, José Lopes of Quinta dos Lopes has a terroir-driven approach, is certified organic and works with traditional grapes of the region. He is also based in the Algarve DOC of Lagos.
Muska is not as plush or polished as the Moscatel de Setúbals I recently reviewed for Blend All About Wine (here); it’s a little more rustic and artisanal in a good way – spicier, with more evident (seasoned) wood/rancio characters. I very much liked its nutty spine.
No doubt reflecting the smaller production (5000 litres), it’s pricier too, but then it delivers plenty of pleasure and the freshness which I associate with Moscatel do Douro which, similarly, are made from Moscatel Galego Branco a.k.a. Muscat à Petits Grains (Moscatel de Setúbal is made from Muscat of Alexandria). Here’s my note:
José Lopes Lda Quinta dos Lopes Muska Vinho Licoroso Algarve 2009 (DOC Lagos, Algarve)
Hand harvested Moscatel Galego Branco was naturally fermented on skins then, after a few days, pressed and fortified with brandy made from the estate’s own grapes – nice! The wine was aged in used 2000 litre oak toneis for around five years at ambient temperature (i.e. with no temperature control). A pretty nose and palate shows lifted spice, barley sugar, poires tapées, candied citrus and buttered toffee; rose Turkish Delight with a few days in bottle. That nutty spine and this wine’s surprising freshness give line, length and balance, keeping it sweetness wonderfully in check (I’m told that the estate is close to the ocean, which has a tempering influence). Very digestible. A nice find by Portuguese Story. Residual sugar 129g/litre. 19% abv. It retails for around £20 and is listed at The Wine Connection Northampton; it has also been listed by the glass at Taberna do Mercado by Wines of Portugal’s Sommelier Wine Quest Champion 2015, Christophe Richelet.