June Wines of the Month: Caves São João Porta dos Cavaleiros Reserva Touriga Nacional 2012 & Filipa Pato & William Wouters Post Quercus Baga 2013
Generally speaking, I’m a fan of Portugal’s tradition of varietal blending, however this month’s Wines of the Month are two exquisite examples of how well Touriga Nacional and Baga perform on their home ground – the Dão and Bairrada respectively. What’s more, these elegant, perfumed wines have the makings of fine summer reds.
Caves São João Porta dos Cavaleiros Reserva Touriga Nacional 2012 (Dão)
Caves São João has sourced its Porta dos Cavaleiros brand from the same grower/producer since the 1950s. The first single varietal Touriga Nacional was made in 2005. Though a very deep, opaque purple this intense Touriga has wonderful delicacy and spice, freshness and lift to its well defined sour black cherry (nice bite). An undertow of mineral acidity and a charge of fine tannins carry a long, very persistent finish edged with dark chocolate – together with its violet-laced perfume, a classic signature note of Touriga Nacional. An excellent expression of the Dão and the grape. I’m told it’s available in the UK via Martavine but, at €7.40 at Garrafeira Nacional it’s worth picking some up in Portugal! Or better still from Caves São João in Bairrada – the opportunity to buy rare old vintage wines from the cellar door proved way too tempting for the sommeliers I led on a visit to the region last month.
Filipa Pato & William Wouters Post Quercus Baga 2013 (Bairrada)
This pale ruby wine is made from exactly the same old vine Baga grapes which go into Pato’s Nossa Calcario. However, unlike Nossa which is aged in oak (quercus), this wine was aged underground in two 300l amphorae. Amphorae first because they are made of clay – the soil of the region (indeed which gives its name to the region). Second because the clay allows for a gentle micro-oxygenation which, together with a hands off approach vis a vis extraction (it simply undergoes a long ferment on skins), accounts for its silkily fine tannins. The fruit is ever so pretty and pure – red cherry, cherry stone and juicy plum and, though delicate, it glows intently, lingering long on the palate. Just lovely – a joyous summer’s day red in handy picnic perfect half bottles at that. This wine will be exclusive to Bottle Apostle. 11.5% abv.