Douro 2003 vintage

The Douro 2003 reds have now been bottled and look impressive.  You’d be pleasantly surprised if you expected to be bludgeoned by alcohol – many of the wines are powerful yet balanced – a tribute to old vines with deep roots (to leach moisture) which are accustomed to the ravages of a hot summer.

Lavradores de Feitoria Quinta de Meruge – Dirk van der Niepoort is one of the winemakers behind this label and Meruge is his exceptional offering.  Benefiting from fruit which would normally go into his own “Charme” label (which costs around £40), this is very smooth, ripe and seductive with crushed raspberry, laced with chocolate and coffee hints, well-balanced acidity and velvety tannins. I’ve already ordered some for my forthcoming Portugal tasting – arriving at the end of October at The Halifax Wine Company – www.halifaxwinecompany.com – £18.95  – stunning – be quick!

Niepoort Vinhos Redoma Tinto – tight nose and palate of red and black fruits with a dose of toasty vanilla, this is a real keeper – a persistent, long, elegant finish bodes very well indeed.

Niepoort Vinhos Batuta – fabulous structure with grippy tannins, a tight, focused, minerally finish with hints of mocha and roasted cobnut suggesting there is plenty to flesh it out – excellent and another wine for the cellar!

Quinta do Vale Meao Douro Red – Expressive nose with eucalyptus, coffee and sweet fruit; very sweet, almost viscous ripe black cherry on the palate relieved by some freshness and mineral notes on the finish.

Prats & Symington Chryseia – with Prats’ signature spiciness, this richly fruited wine has real g?ut de terroir on nose and palate; supple and balanced.

Quinta do Vale Dona Maria Douro Red – very good fruit purity, hints of mineral and toast, fresh, balanced finish – very good.

Quinta do Vale Dona Maria Douro CV-Curriculum Vitae Red – a more shaded North facing vineyard packs a punch of exuberant, spicy fruit with good tannic grip.

Casa de Casal de Loivos Red – very minerally nose with toast; fresh and firm palate – very good.

Pintas Douro Red – lovely, inviting nose vinous and complex with dried herb notes which follow through on a very complete, well-balanced, elegant palate – excellent!

Xisto – this collaboration between Jean-Charles Cazes of Lynch Bages and Miguel Roquette of Quinta do Crasto has a distinctly “French polish” – vinous nose, with spicy oak.  Very ripe fruit, velvety tannins with spice and eucalyptus – very good if atypical.

Quinta do Vallado Red – very open nose with lots of coffee and fruit, this IWC Gold Medal winner is great value at £7.27/bottle and refreshes the parts wines from other countries simply cannot reach – www.bibendum-wine.co.uk.

Quinta do Vallado Reserva Red – 70-100 year old vineyards produce this very poised, elegant wine; ripe tannins are fleshed out with black fruits enlivened by eucalyptus, spicy coriander seed and a fresh finish.  Wears its new oak very well. £13.68 at Bibendum.

Quinta da Gaivosa Vinha de Lordelo – this single vineyard wine from vines around a century old shows real g?ut de terroir (minerally/slatey character), together with spice and gingerbread, very long and complex.

Sarah Ahmed
The Wine Detective
October 2005
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