Sampling Portugal head to toe, including a couple from Colares, Alvaro Castro, Anselmo Mendes, Soalheiro and some new names…

Towards the end of the year, I accumulate a mountain of samples for the purposes of updating the Portugal pages for Hugh Johnson Pocket Wine. Because of my quest to select wines for the annual 50 Great Portuguese tasting in 2010, they came even thicker and faster than usual.  Here are my highlights, which include some “retastes” – wines I’d tasted on visits to Portugal, but wanted to review.

Vinho Verde

Quinta de Azevedo 2008 – floral, with rock melon and lemon nose, really good lemon and lime acid drive on the palate which has a slightly waxy texture and soapy perfume hints.  Good length and persistence, with some steely grapefruit.  Paired unexpectedly well with rabbit terrine at a Waitrose Food Illustrated readers’ event at The Capital.   NB It”s on deal at £6.24 or £4.99 when you buy 2 at Majestic until 26 April 2010.

Casa do Valle Branco 2008 – Azal & Arinto – a complex, quite weighty nose and palate with citrus peel, nuts, honey and tangy lees notes to its zingy citrus core.  Good concentration and lively length – really interesting wine. 12.5% abv

Quinta do Louridal Poema Alvarinho 2007 – a lavish, leesy, ripe, stone fruited Alvarinho – good body, but freshness and length too.  Plenty to get the chops around!

Quintas de Melgaco Alvarinho QM 2008 – yellow with green glints and a bright, fresh nose with citrus, greengage and white peach.  In the mouth it’s quite flamboyant with really juicy yellow plum and greengage and hints of creamier, sleek fruit salad as it pens up.  But there’s plenty of balancing citrus bite too and it finishes flinty and fresh, cool and long. Very good. 12.5% abv

Quintas de Melgaco Castrus de Melgaço Alvarinho 2007 
– a ripe, fruity nose, with musky apricot and peach and a striking smoky flinty note to the nose.  The palate is equally rich, ripe and fruity but with a fresh edge – like peach or apricot near the kernel.  There’s an exotic, sweeter mandarin note too with vanilla oak in evidence. Very rich, quite creamy and mouthfilling, if anything perhaps a little too rich/overtly fruity? 13% abv

Soalheiro Vinho Verde 2008 – peach and fresh greengage nose and palate, sour yellow plum, plenty of flavour and sweetness here to balance the herbal edge and vibrant acidity.  Good.  12.5%

Soalheiro Primeiras Vinhas Vinho Verde 2008 – fresh mineral nose, tight, wow, this one really pulls you in with its tangy, subtle fruit and minerality.  A textured palate.  Fabulous balance.  Based on previous tastings of older wines, this will enjoy a long life ahead.  An amazing combination of levity and weight.  12.5%

Anselmo Mendes Muros Antigos Alvarinho 2008 – plenty of tangy, mouthwatering greengage and green apricot/green mango fruit here, intensely mouth watering with a mineral undertow and a leesy edge.  Very good.

Anselmo Mendes Muros de Melgaco Alvarinho 2008
 – again quite a sour green tropical quality to this with fruit salad, sometimes creamy fruit salad notes, to this oak fermented and aged wine.

Anselmo Mendes Contacto Alvarinho 2008 –  smart modern packaging, smart modern wine with a tangy apricot and citrus nose and palate. With lovely richness and weight to the fruit, this has a long, sustained finish with an attractive sherbetty acidity.  Grande compra indeed! 13%

Minho

Covela Branco 2008 – leesy, very spicy nose and palate with vibrant greengage and lychee under which lurks a mineral, earthy core.  Good length but not the Pinocchio finish of the 2007.  When I wrote this note, I had no idea that Covela would become a victim of the global credit crunch.  Last week I received a “Covela RIP” email from this biodynamic estate’s owner, Nuno Araujo – tragic because Nuno’s wines are terrific and in many respects exemplify new Portugal – pushing the boundaries with exciting, terroir driven wines…

The Douro


Zimbro Tinto 2005
 – shows nice fleshy, open knit fruit with milk chocolate and a ripe raspberry core supported by fine tannins.  Floral and eucalpyt notes make for a lifted finish.  Good.

Zimbro Tinto 2006 – a blend of 30% Touriga Franca, 30% Tinta Roriz, 30% Tinta Barroca, 10% Touriga Nacional.  A floral, red fruited nose belies a very (dark) chocolatey palate with quite plush but juicy layers of ripe, primarily red, but also black fruits with a lick of toast and hint of eucalypt. Fine tannins.  Good.

Zimbro Grande Reserva 2006 – a blend of Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz, Touriga Nacional. The nose is a little toast dominated, but not so the palate.  It shows a rich, vibrant core of black cherry and raspberry fruit with lifted, wild rock rose and eucalpyt to counterbalance its dark chocolate.  Grainy, ripe tannins lend support.  Good.

Calços do Tanha Rose 2007 – a cranberry and flowers nose set the tone – a very attractive, dry rosé, fresh and floral (rock rose) with crunchy cranberry and red cherry fruit.

Calços do Tanha Rose 2008 
– (received a few months later) – a fresh, clean nose and palate with red cherry, cranberry and flowers.  It’s ever so slightly sweet, for which reason I prefer the 2007, but it’s well done in terms of clean, bright fruit with those attractive floral notes.

Calços do Tanha Sousao 2007
 – this teinturer variety, called Vinhao in Vinho Verde, is a deep hue – black.  It’s also known for its high acidity and this wine is no fruit fest. A dark, grippy, spicy nose with a grunt of black pepper forecasts the palate’s dark and dry spectrum of flavours – it sports lean, crunchy fruit with radicchio, floral notes and bitter chocolate backed by firm but ripe, textured tannins.  Puts me in mind of a Lagrein from Trentino, Italy and, like that grape it’s something of an acquired taste and definitely a food wine.  I like it though.

Calços do Tanha Touriga Franca 2007 – the less well known Touriga is also floral and tends towards a fresher style than Nacional.  This has red pomegranate and waxy roses to the nose and a lithe, lifted, medium weight palate with lively, intense sweet red berry (raspberry) and bright pomegranate fruit gently informed by fine tannins.  It’s good and great to taste Touriga Franca on its own, though I’m a bigger fan of blends for balance and complexity – would like to see a few more bass notes and textural bottom.

Calços do Tanha Reserva 2005 – a blend of Tinta Roriz, Touriga Franca, Tinta Barroca and Tinta Amarela.  Dark and chocolatey but fleshy and fresh red and black fruits make for a persistent finish.  Fine, textured tannins.  Very good.

Quinta da Sequeira Grande Reserva 2005
 – a dark and brooding Douro Superior blend of Tourigas Nacional and Franca and Tintas Roriz, Amarela and Barocca with some seriously old vine content (a century and plainly not out).  It shows coal-edged black berry and currant fruit backed with an impressive whack of tannins, though ripe and powdery.  This is a big wine and could do with a few years under its belt.  Given time to open up it revealed heady lavender, chocolate and Kahlua.

Ramos Pinto Collection 2007 – deep purple, with a wild edge to its red and predominantly black coal dusted fruit, good structure, balance with salt lick minerality to the finish.  Terrible label, really well made wine.

Ramos Pinto Duas Quintas Reserva 2007 – very well structured, balanced, tight wine, with good depth of tightly wound blackberry, bilberry, currant and cherry fruit elegantly framed by fine powdery tannins.  Youthful, with dark chocolate and vanilla oak on a long finish.  Very good.

Ramos Pinto Duas Quintas Reserva Especial 2007 [cask sample] 
– very deep in colour, with charry toast and minerals on the nose.  Very concentrated black fruits, with chocolate, balsamic and esteva notes amply supported by a solid backbone of ripe tannin.  A baby with stacks of potential – good job there’s the other two for drinking while this bides its time in barrel then cellar!

Quinta do Crasto Vinha da Ponte 2007 – a heady nose of ripe blackcurrant and berry fruits, currant and minerals.  Superb, almost painful concentration on the palate with tight black fruits chiselled with minerals.  The long, persistent finish is supertight and shot through with minerals – a vertical strata of schist.  Very, very impressive – one to stick away for at least five years and should go 15 years plus.

Quinta do Crasto Vinha Maria Teresa 2007 
– deep opaque, there’s a sinewy, mineral core to this wine, fleshed out with mouthfilling sweet black fruits with eucalyptus, warm dust, chocolate, mocha and toast to the long, concentrated finish.  It may show greater generosity than the Vinha da Ponte now, but it also demands cellaring.

Quinta do Popa VV Popa 2007 
– Luis Pato is the consultant here and Bairrada’s Baga-master rejoices in the Douro’s ripe sweet fruit.  A flamboyant floral nose and palate shows lashings of sweet raspberry and ripe Victoria plum with a hint of eucalyptus and milk chocolate.  Super fine tannins make for an almost silky mouthfeel.  Good persistence on the finish, though it’s a little ripe for my taste.

Symington Family Estates Altano Reserva 2007 – deep purple, velvety brambly fruit and chocolate.  Well done, nice persistence, silky tannins.

Symington Family Estates Altano 2007 – organically farmed – a bright, sappy nose and palate with toasty, spicy red and black fruits, dried rubbed herbs and esteva.  Characterful.

Prats & Symington Post Scriptum de Chryseia 2007 
– spicy, fleshy, subtly toasty and very chocolatey with textured ripe tannins, raspberry and crème de mur fruit.  A luscious package with lovely depth and purity of fruit.

Prats & Symington Chryseia 2007
 –  a lush, ripe, toasty nose and palate, quite savoury, with a core of plush plum, sweet raspberry and blackberry and tighter blackcurrant fruit to the finish.  Quite open knit and less interesting for it.

Van Zellers Curriculam Vitae 2007
 – very tight, mineral and elegant with a concentrated core of really juicy, persistent toast-licked black and red fruits.,  Terrific poise and persistence, with fine supporting tannins.

Quinta do Vesuvio Pombal do Vesuvio 2007 – this vintage marks the release of two wines from this famous port quinta.  This is the second wine (sadly a sample of the top Quinta do Vesuvio was out of condition).  It’s a mid-weight, fleshy wine with characterful dried herbs/eucalyptus notes and an attractive mineral undertow.  Medium finish.

Alves de Sousa Quinta do Vale da Raposa Touriga Nacional 2007 – a very rich and heady Touriga Nacional, super floral with rock rose and violets, plush dark fruits and chocolatey ripe tannins.  Went down great guns with friends who tasted it, but a bit big for me – I prefer a more elegant style.

Alves de Sousa Q do Gaivosa Vinha de Lordelo 2007 – a tight nose and palate shows
perfumed, tight blackcurrant and cranberry fruit with some toast, tarry hints and salty minerals to the finish.  Complex and concentrated, a big wine, needs time.

Alves de Sousa Abandonado 2007 
– a big and brawny wine with sweet and smoky oak, warm earth and eucalpytus on nose and palate.  The coal-dust-edged tannins are a little drying on the finish.  A bit gawky at the moment.  One to review down the track.

Alves de Sousa Q do Gaivosa 2005 – a savoury, earthy nose but the palate’s more lifted and primary with floral notes and lots of sweet, fleshy black cherry.  Rich, layered and long with   sexy velvety texture.

Niepoort Batuta 2007 
– I tasted this wine in September 2009 (see here) and found it hard to pin down.  Re-tasted in late November, it’s showing Batuta’s classic chiselled minerality with juicy black fruits but, though the tannins are fine and powdery, this really is exceptionally tight, glinty and polished and slips from my grasp.  But I’m excited by this wine – I think Niepoort’s wines are becoming subtler and subtler; they wear their power lightly.

Quinta de la Rosa Branco 2008 –  attractive floral and mineral nose.  In the mouth it shows good texture with a waxy feel to its vegetal (in a good way) palate.  A fresh finish shows a salty green olive tang and nicely judged use of vanilla oak.  Well made and characterful.

Poeira Po de Poeira Branco 2008
 – tight and flinty nose with skeins of waxy, ripe apricot/stone fruits which follow through on the palate with hints of fennel and green tomato.    Quite taut and mineral on the finish, it holds up very well over a couple of days, unravelling flavourwise and not structurally to good effect.

Poeira 2007 – 48 barricas – a youthful toasty, mineral nose leads onto a sweet oak-edged  juicy black and red fruited palate with seamlessly fine, powdery tannins.  Intense and subtle, with a pronounced mineral undertow and lifted floral notes, this is a lovely wine.

Poeira Cabernet Sauvignon blend 2007 – this is a maiden release, the Cabernet resulting in a darker hue, more opacity and a deep fruited nose with blackcurrant/berry and a stalky note, all of which follow through on a very floral, tight knit, mineral palate.  It’s quite austere on the finish, with skulking, big boned tannins and notable acidity – a long life ahead of this assuming the fruit in this maiden wine plumps up a bit.

Conceito Contraste 2007 – quite fresh, sappy and oaky on nose.  A very lively, peppery palate and floral lift animate sweet blackberry fruit.  Lots of appeal and youthful immediacy.

Conceito Tinto 2007
 – good Douro typicity, with perfumed, juicy red and black fruits, firm, sinewy tannins and a mineral undertow.  Good.

Churchill Grande Reserva 2007
 – a deep coloured wine with plenty of rich, ripe and heady perfumed black cherry Touriga Nacional notes and chunky, chocolatey tannins.  Medium, mineral-edged finish.

Quinta do Coa Reserva 2007 (organic) – lovely perfumed, fresh nose with tight knit black fruits.  In the mouth it shows fleshy plum, black berry, eucalyptus and flowers with darker mocha notes on the finish.  Solid supporting tannins are of the fruit variety.  Well done.

Churchills Touriga Nacional 2007
 – a dark, coal-edged Touriga and though I find the fruit spectrum a little unrelieved/monotone, I like the fine tannins, persistence and balance of this mineral wine.

Quinta do Coa 2007 – very floral with sweet, wild berry and bramble fruit on nose and palate fleshing out ripe but present tannins.  It finishes spicy (like one of those German dark chocolate gingerbread biscuit), dry, textured and mineral.  Good.

Quinta de Macedos Pinga do Torto 2005 
– I’ve heard it said that minerality buffers the sweetness in Riesling and it certainly makes an impact on this wine.  Its wild berry and currant fruit is cut with salt-licked minerals and textured tannins, making for an imposing, long, dry (not drying) finish.

Quinta de Macedos 2005 – an intense, very port-like dark, schist-dusted nose heralds a heavyweight wine with a heft of fruit and tannins, velcro tannins at that.  While Pinga, the junior wine, is just starting to open up, this remains firmly off limits at the moment.  But there’s a magnificence to its uncompromising form and a lively pulse of red and black fruits to come back to once the tannins recede.

Quinta de la Rosa 2007 –  an elegant, well-balanced wine with a ripe core of red fruits (my notes say pomegranate syrup) and blackberry, well supported by ripe tannins.  Persistent, long finish.  Grown up.

Andresen Colheita 1997
 – still very youthful russet hue and palate, though the spirit is well integrated,  with lovely, very spicy bruised plum fruits and a nutty edge – perfect with The River Cafe’s chocolate almond cake…

The Dao

Sogrape Callabriga Dao 2007 – lifted floral nose with red cherry and blood plum; good purity of red and black cherry fruit on the palate, a sourness combined with freshness gives it a Dao thumbprint, as does the floral lift.  Nice ripe but present tannins.  Well made.  Tinta Roriz, Alfrocheiro and Touriga Nacional.

Cunha Martins Reserva 2006 – an intense, spicy blend of Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz, Alfrocheiro Preto and Jaen.  Very bright, it has a vibrant ruby sheen with a youthful pink edge. A perfumed nose smacks of Alfrocheiro and Jaen- delicately floral, lifted and sappy.  You see the connection with Mencia – lovely floral bright red berry and cherry fruits, sappy and lively, precise yet feminine with lifted with hints of incense spice and pomegranate.  Fine grained tannins. Very good.

Quinta do Corujão Colheita 2006 – a pretty, fragrant wine on nose and palate shows mouthwatering, juicy red and black cherry fruit, with an attractive sour twist.  Fine but present powdery tannins.  Good.

Quinta de Saes Colheita Branco 2008
 – a blend of Encruzado, Malvasia, Cercial – pale with a prickly pear and cucumber nose.  Nice weight in the mouth with prickly pear, greengage and smashed green olives – puts me in mind of a good Soave with its dry, almond edge and suave mouthfeel.  A good food wine.  12.5%,

Quinta de Saes Reserva Branco 2008 – 80% Encruzado, 20% Cercial, it spends 12 months in oak with batonnage. A steely, pithy grapefruit nose leads onto an exciting rollercoaster ride of a palate which brings a smile to the face.  A sweet, juicy core of tangerine, blood orange and grapefruit is beguilingly textured with pith and citrus peel tannins and there’s a nutty edge to its galloping finish.  Brims with character and cheeky vitality and, despite the nutty, pithy qualities, it retains a sorbet-like clarity to its fruit.  Fab.  13% abv

Quinta de Saes Reserva Tinto 2007 – very Alvaro Castro, from a slightly lower, less well-exposed vineyard (than Pellada), juicy, fleshy red and black fruits dance over the palate.  Lovely purity and seamless tannins make for an elegant, fresh, mineral finish.

Quinta da Pellada Tinto 2003 
– initially quite smoky, with a resinous, savoury edge and eucalyptus to its black and red brambly fruits and plum which blows off with time in the glass, revealing a more heady floral quality and a seam of lively black cherry and berry fruit, with savoury, spicy hints.  Nice weight and richness in the mouth without being dense – juicy acidity makes for clean finish supported by firm but ripe tannins.  Very good length and savoury persistence.  Plenty of life in this yet!

Quinta da Pellada Tinto Reserva 2006 – lovely lifted bright red and black berry nose, with floral lift and a mineral quality.  A youthful, primary palate shows great depth of sweet fruit red and black berry and succulent blackcurrant – more red – with a lovely juiciness to the mid-palate.  With firm but ripe tannins, this is persistent and long – a baby but approachable now.

Alvaro Castro Carrocel 2007 – sweet oak and a heft of sweet black fruits on the nose.  Ditto on the palate, very young, expansive in its fruit and sweetness in the mouth.  This is a mouthfilling wine, though it narrows on the finish, partly the impact of oak grooming – tight with, as yet, a slightly woody finish.  Needs time.  Lots of potential.

Quinta dos Roques Alfrocheiro 2007 – a fresh, lifted floral nose and palate shows red liquorice, berry, sour cherry and juicy damson and spice.  Delicate sandalwood spice and aniseed notes and fine tannins make for a refined, mid-weight wine.

Quinta de Cabriz (Dao Sul) Colheita Seleccionada 2007
 – gorgeous very inky floral nose, with heady flowers (lily/thick red rose petals).  The well-balanced palate is rich yet dry, with a lovely purity and fleshiness to its black cherry and berry cinnamon-edged fruit.  Present but ripe tannins bode well for mid-term ageing but this is also enjoyable now.  Very good.

Casa de Santar Reserva 2005  (Dao Sul) – firmer and drier in style than the Cabriz it’s still tightknit with small black (bil)berry and currant fruit, a little wild, spicy (clove) and floral supported by firm tannins and juicy acidity.  Needs time, this will reward ageing a couple of years and cellar a good decade plus.

Beiras VR

Filipa Pato Lokal Silex 2008 – 85% Touriga Nacional, 15% Alfrocheiro Preto – puts me in mind of a really sexy Loire Cabernet Franc.  Deep crimson with a bright pink rim and a gorgeous floral nose with rock rose and violets, which unfurl on the palate.  A lipsmacking palate shows well-defined, bright and juicy red and black cherry and currant fruit supported by silky tannins.  A beautiful, heady, yet finely honed wine.

Luis Pato Vinhas Velhas Red 2007 – pale crimson, quite Pinot Noir on the nose and palate with crunchy red currant and berry, spicy plum and a hint of milk chocolate. Though ripe, there’s an edge of tannin and acidity –  walks the line perfectly.  Paired very well with duck leg confit with pomme rosti in a blackcurrant jus at a recent tasting.

Luis Pato Vinha Barrosa Vinha Velha 2005 – sumptuous yet fresh nose with a deep core of ripe red fruits, even a hint of fruit conserve, and lifted incense spice.  A youthful palate which draws you in, with skeins of red and black berry and cherry fruit sour cherry and plum drawn out by long, fine tannins.  There’s an arrowroot/liquorice quality and mineral undertow.  A few weeks later I taste a Conterno Barolo Bussia – twice the price – but this is easily on par – both great wines.

Luis Pato Vinha Barrosa Vinha Velha 2008 (cask sample) – Luis is very excited about the 2008 vintage for Baga and, beneath its toast, this is very floral and heady.  Though the tannins are tightknit, there’s a wealth of black fruits to be mined and cinnamon spice and cedar on a persistent finish.  Lots of potential and more come hither than I expected for Baga at this stage of the game…

Bairrada

Quinta das Bágeiras Vinho Branco Garrafeira 2007 – a flinty nose and palate with bright greengage fruit and honey, but it’s the structure that really excites – a wonderful thrust of acidity gives tremendous line.  The finish is super-long, textured and mineral.  Fab.

Dao Sul Grande Encontro 2006 – a blend of Baga, Touriga Nacional and Merlot.  Slightly smoky, tight redcurrant/berry nose.  A taut, linear palate is tightly coiled with crunchy redcurrant, berry and cherry fruit and just a hint of sage.  It needs a few years under its belt to unfurl.  Good purity, freshness and focus though – would certainly cut through suckling pig like a hot knife through butter!

Dao Sul Encontro 1 2007 – elegant, coolly poised, polished and mineral, this is a smart wine with fine but present tannins, well integrated oak and subtle incense spice, sandalwood.  Excellent.

Colares

Fundacao Oriente Branco 2008 – mineral, slightly lemony nose and palate; well austere, not a million miles away from a bone dry Fino sherry!  Enervating, fresh and sharp with salty/brine-edged lemon, lemon pips and zesty acidity and a whistle-clean finish.  This will have limited appeal – too eviscerating for many but I like its jolt of life.  Needs food…like a dry sherry…

Fundacao Oriente Ramisco 2005 – pale, clear ruby with kid glove oak, violets, sappy red/damson fruits and dried spice on the nose.  An intense, spicy palate shows sweet clove, wild raspberry, cherry and pithy pomegranate-like tannins.  Well made, subtle but precise wine – a modern interpretation of Colares.

Estremadura

Berco do Infante (Dao Sul) Tinto 2007 – deep crimson/bright purple, Nice ripe, stony black cherry fruit to the nose, with some white pepper which follows through on the palate. Round and ripe in the mouth with red and black cherry, sweet raspberry and smooth tannins, it’s very drinkable, well balanced too.

Tejo

Quinta do Casal Branco Falcoaria Tinto 2006 – a bright red berry and cherry nose with sweet raspberry.  A well-balanced palate shows a swirl of ripe red fruits with hints of liquorice spice and mocha oak.   Nice ripe tannins.  Very good. (The chewy 2007, also tasted, needs time).

Quinta do Casal Branco Falcoaria Branco Fernao Pires 2007
 – slightly smoky with a veneer of vanilla oak to its flinty, lemon palate.

Vale d’Algares Seleccion White 2008 – a summery nose shows citrus and cool cucumber.  In the mouth, this is super citrussy with ripe but juicy tropical fruit. Attractive mouthwatering finish.  A great example of exuberant, modern Tejo.

Alentejo

Dao Sul  Monte da Cal Vinha de Saturno 2006 VR – a crazy massive bottle earns a black mark, but there’s lots to like about the contents.  Inky and savoury on nose and palate, with toast, bay leaf and spice, there’s nonetheless a nice freshness to its balsamic-edged red and black berry and plum fruit and a cool menthol note.  Well integrated oak and fine tannins.  Good persistence.

Herdade do Arrepiado Velho Colheita 2006, VR 
– this bottle just needs a gold chain and snaffle fastening and it’ll give a Gucci bag a good run for its money.  Fortunately, the contents live up to the luxury label looks.  This is a seductive wine, lush on nose and palate with a heady melange of caramelised raspberry, violets and milk chocolate, seamlessly supported by ultra smooth tannins.  Lavish appeal, but it’s well made and remarkably, keeps its head, with a sense of proportion and balance.

Joao Portugal Ramos Vila Santa Branco 2008 
– a blend of Antao Vaz, Arinto and Verdelho it’s yellow/gold, with green mango on the nose.  A really juicy, tropical fruit palate with pineapple and sweet vanilla oak shows just a hint of smashed green olive.  Well balanced – not too Umbongo – the juiciness is the thing here.  Ripe, citrussy mouth-cleansing acidity makes for an animated wine.

Adega Cooperativa Portalegre Conventual Reserva 2008 
– a blend of Arinto, Fernao Pires and Roupeiro which showcases its varieties well, with Arinto’s fresh citrus, Fernao Pires’ floral and spice notes and a touch of Roupeiro honey to the finish.  Just lacks a bit of finesse, though I suspect that’d be asking too much for the price point.

Herdade dos Grous Moon Harvest 2008 VR 
– 100% Alicante Bouschet.  I tasted a barrel sample a couple of months previously – see my report here – after bottling this is initially quite dry, shy and mineral on the nose and palate.  With time in the glass it opens up a little  showing bright small berry (bilberry) and currant fruit.  Plenty of structure here with firm tannins and a tightly focused but persistent finish.  Needs time but good potential.

Herdade dos Grous 23 Barricas Touriga Nacional/Syrah 2008 VR
 – a youthful toasty nose, with some eucalypt and bay leaf, all of which follow through on the palate, which has a succulent core of red and black berry fruits, nice persistence and length.  A great combination, Syrah spicy, dark and lush, while Touriga, floral, fleshy, brings more than a dash of elegance.  Fine, ripe tannins too.  Very complete, just needs a bit of time for the toast to integrate.

Pontual Touriga Nacional / Trincadeira 2006 VR 
– eucalpyt lift to nose with toast, blackberry, blackcurrant and “fatter” raspberry fruit beneath.  All follow through on a bright, well-delineated palate.  Well done.  Quite Aussie, with good freshness and animation.

Herdade do Monte da Ribeira Quatro Caminhos Branco 2008 – this oak fermented and lees-aged blend of Antao Vaz and Arinto shows ripe, vanilla-edged citrus fruit on the nose and palate.  The Arinto keeps it in line with nicely concentrated lemon peel and balancing lemony acidity.  Good.

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