Portalegre magic: Susana Esteban’s maiden white wines & Aventura Red 2013
Susana Esteban’s own label maiden releases blew my socks off. And the Alentejo winemaker has done it again, this time with her maiden whites wines, Susana Esteban Aventura 2013 and, from 100% old Portalegre field blend vines, Susana Esteban Procura 2013. As you may have picked up from earlier posts, I reckon Portalegre is a region to watch. Esteban’s whites are textural, fresh and involving while the latest release of Aventura Red 2013 is as vibrant as Alentejo comes. Here are my notes on Susana Esteban’s latest releases.
Susana Esteban Aventura White 2013 (VR Alentejano)
Pale straw with a lemony hue Esteban’s junior white, Aventura, is sourced as to 70% from a 30 year old mixed planting of traditional Portuguese white varieties in Portalegre and 30% from an Estremoz vineyard where Arinto is the main variety. For an unoaked wine it has impressively creamy, leesy texture with a shapely mid-palate of poached pear and gently melony and lemony fruit. Yet there’s not an ounce of heaviness, methinks due to its green olive saltiness and floral lift (which perhaps points to Moscatel and Fernão Pires in the field blend?) plus ripe but present acidity. Its florality was particularly striking when I re-tasted Aventura on day two, especially with food. It put me in mind of Alsace. Love the texture, fruit purity, florality and freshness. Very good. 4000 bottles. 12.5%
Susana Esteban Procura White 2013 (VR Alentejano)
Two years after she discovered her two Procura red wine vineyards Esteban found a unique and exceptional old (80 years plus) white wine field blend vineyard in Portalegre on the slopes of São Mamede mountain. Esteban started fermenting this wine in stainless steel tanks and it finished fermenting in 2nd and 3rd year old French oak barriques where the wine matured for 8 months. It seems even paler than the Aventura. Not what you’d expect given the oak but, there and again, it is 100% from Portalegre, a significantly cooler region than Estremoz. Procura has a tight mineral nose with some smoky vanillin oak which, though quite overt, is nonetheless harmonious in terms of the flavour profile. And the oak also brings greater focus to a wine which is expansive yet contained. A creamily lithe palate has a muscular, crystalline core of grapey, lemony fruit – great palate presence – and the salty, green olive and floral (lavender?), grapey lift that I found in Aventura. An incipiently nutty, stonily mineral finish is very persistent, with greater drive than the Aventura. Very good indeed. Looking forward to seeing how this wine develops in bottle. 1,700 bottles. 13%
Susana Esteban Aventura Red 2013 (VR Alentejano)
This unoaked blend of 40% Aragonês, 40% Touriga Nacional and 20% field blend fruit from Portalegre has wonderful vibrancy and texture (think crushed velvet) to its pure, freshly picked and puréed (so it feels) fruits of the forest. Smooth tannins and sappy acidity reinforce the charming immediacy of this youthful red. Lovely. 13.5%
Find out more about the wines of Portalegre, Alentejo.