Herdade do Rocim Amphora White & Red 2014
Herdade do Rocim’s winery could not be more modern. Nor could the first of their wines which I tasted – the heavyweight (if very balanced), Herdade do Rocim Grande Rocim 2007 – a glossy blend of 90% Alicante Bouschet, 10% Touriga Nacional. It made the cut for my 50 Great Portuguese Wines in 2010. So I was intrigued to taste Rocim’s latest additions to its range – two hands off old school wines, both naturally fermented and aged with no oak, no additions or corrections in amphora (or talha, as they are known locally).
Here are my notes on these delightfully subtle, restrained wines:
Herdade do Rocim Amphora Branco 2014 (DOC Alentejo)
The nod to tradition goes beyond the use of talha or amphora. This blend of Antão Vaz, Perrum, Rabo de Ovelha and Manteúdo focuses on very traditional Alentejo varieties. It has a funky nose, quite tight and flinty (more smoky than struck match flinty) with a spicy, pithy, vegetal suggestion of skin contact. An impression which is confirmed by a bone dry, firm palate which is pithily textural, with punctuating spicy breakfast grapefruit peel to the fresh, flinty mouthwatering juice. Notes of celery salt, tomato plant and fino sherry-like nuttiness too. As it opens up, and especially on day two, it’s much less acerbic, revealing sweeter, rounder pink grapefruit and golden delicious notes. A firm backbone of acidity makes for a clean pair of heels on day one and supports the spice-edged fruit well on day two. The finish is long and mineral with skin contact spice. Lots of interest but make sure you don’t over-chill it. Taking my cue from the fino notes, I found it worked really well with green olives. 12% abv
Herdade do Rocim Amphora Tinto 2014 (DOC Alentejo)
Similarly traditional grapes feature in the red – Moreto and Tinta Grossa in addition to Aragones (a.k.a. Tempranillo). It shows surprisingly creamy yet fresh, gently sweet, round black cherry, raspberry and plum – so very Tempranillo – with a super-subtle hint of tomato plant. A pronounced if underlying salty minerality and textural but yielding tannins bring a cool, fresh quality to its gently tapering finish. Not the longest finish, but it’s a beguiling, uber-digestible wine from tip to toe which opens up beautifully on day two. Very good. 13%