The Big Fortified Tasting & LIWF 2010: Portuguese fortifieds round up

The Big Fortified Tasting in April and London Wine Fair in May presented an opportunity to taste wines from less usual suspects.  I’ve already written up some fabulous Australian liqueur muscats, tawnies and tokays here.  Here are my Portuguese highlights.


Quinta da Bela Vista Carcavelos NV – bottled in 1991 the remaining stock of this historical curiosity from the all but defunct appellation Carcavelos is held by Companhia Agricola do Sanguinhal.  Quinta da Bela Vista was last harvested in 1969 and the average age of the wines (made from Galego Dourado) in this Non Vintage blend is 70 years old.  Aged to the point of dry nuttiness, with green walnut and savoury nam pla hints, it nonetheless retains good acidity, well integrated with the “fruit,” so no elbows.  Interesting.

Moscatel de Setubal/Douro

Bacalhoa Moscatel de Setubal 2001 – youthful with good body and depth of fruit edged hints of green walnut; very good balance/persistence.

Bacalhoa Moscatel de Setubal 1999 – a couple more years under its belt and it shows a little more tertiary (green walnut) character; nice complexity here.

Bacalhoa Moscatel de Setubal 1998 – a gorgeous vintage with rich, slightly singed tangerine fruit and a nutty edge; intense, long and concentrated.  A lovely wine.

Bacalhoa Moscatel Roxo 1999 – made from the rarer red tinted clone I selected this wine for my 50 Great Portuguese Wines and it’s since wooed many an admirer with its lifted blood orange and pink grapefruit nose and palate complexed and textured by a pithy, nutty edge.  Lovely structure.

Bacalhoa Moscatel Superior 1993 – deep amber with a green walnut edge, this is deeper and more savoury in character, with a wonderful woody, nutty timbre and spice box on the finish.  Very good – a meditation, post-dessert wine.

Adega cooperativa Favaios Moscatel Douro 1989 – shows delicate floral notes, with hints of barley sugar, orange peel, almonds and dried honey on the nose and palate – not as sweet in style as a Moscatel de Setubal, which comes from much lower sites. (LIWF)


Quinta Nova de Nossa Senhora do Carmo Reserve Port – well presented in a tall 50cl bottle (looks like a dessert wine), this is an elegant lifted style with a menthol nose, cassis and bright fresh blackcurrant fruit.  Well done, contemporary style.

Quinta Nova de Nossa Senhora do Carmo Late Bottled Vintage Port 2005 – slightly smoky with spicy, black currant and berry fruit; though elegant there’s good concentration, structure and length.

Quinta de la Rosa Finest Reserve Port – a drier style, structured, intense reserve with lots of liquorice and spice supported by bony tannins.  Youthful.

Quinta de la Rosa Vintage Port 2007 – very floral, aromatic, expressive port – a good reflection of this elegant vintage, supported by fine tannins.

Ramos Pinto Quinta de Ervamoira 10 Year Old Tawny – round and sweet mid-palate with a long, balancing, dryish, nutty finish.  Very good.

Ramos Pinto Quinta do Bom Retiro 20 Year Old Tawny – another 10 years really ratchets up the complexity – lovely concentration of dried fruit and nuts; long, persistent and very well balanced.

Ramos Pinto 30 Year Old Tawny – and another 10 years brings real depth and layer with tertiary complexity – green walnuts, caramel to its dried fruits.  Still elegant, long.  Very good.

Churchill’s 10 Year Old Tawny – rich and fruity nose though the palate is drier/more serious than expected with a lovely backbone of nutty tannins giving a long, extended finish.  Excellent.

Churchill’s 20 Year Old Tawny – very elegant style, long, nutty and fine; very good.

Dona Matilde Vintage Port 2007 – a powerfully concentrated impressive debut, with plenty of liquorice-edged ripe cassis and black berry and cherry fruit, well supported by firm but ripe tannins. (LIWF)

Duorum Vintage Port 2007 – an inky, deep hue, it shows exuberant ripe blackcurrant, berry and cherry fruit on the nose.  In the mouth, it’s big, fat and spicy with plenty of oomph thanks to its concentrated black fruits; a pronounced menthol note gives lift.  Well balanced, forward and fruitful, it looks set to deliver plenty of drinking pleasure without the need to cellar it for decades. (LIWF)

Croft Pink Port a Douro’ness about it in its floral, perfume, red and black berry fruits and hint of chocolate, though the emphasis is on bright red cherry/cranberry fruit.  Recommended serving is chilled, on ice or as a long drink with tonic water.  (LIWF)

Dalva Rose Port – a fruity cherry nose and palate with an aniseed edge. Quite straight forward but well made.  (LIWF)

Dalva Golden White 1963 (first bottled 2010 and will be bottled on demand) – fresh cut apples to the nose, with smooth crème caramel and barley sugar on the attack, followed by a walnut-edged finish.  It has the focus of a vintage wine and, for me, is a little linear, lacking the complexity of the age dated (non-vintage) white ports I’ve tasted (see here for more details).  Dalva plan to launch a 20 Year Old Age Dated White Port later this year.  (LIWF)

Dalva Golden White 1952 – Roy Hersh, whose opinion I much respect, has raved about this wine which is perhaps why the 63 fell short of my expectations.  The 52 is, however, another story.  Much more vigour and complexity here.  It shows a slightly dull caramel nose but the multi-faceted palate is another story – with layer after savoury layer of chicory, tobacco, green olive, nuts and aniseed.   Long and persistent, there’s plenty to hold the interest.  An unusual, I suspect polarising, niche wine style.  (LIWF)

Andresen 20 year old White Port lighter bodied and smoother than a tawny, it’s like the Quinta de Santa Eufémia aged dated white ports I tasted a couple of years ago (see here). It’s also very different from a tawny in flavour: more almond than walnut and crème caramel than crème brulee, an impression much reinforced by the next wine. (LIWF)

Grahams 20 year old Tawny Portthis is a satisfying tawny with a great depth of moreish dried fruits, a nutty texture and crème brulee/caramelised sweetness.  Well balanced, with a dryness/fine definition to the finish which contrasts with the plump’n luscious mid-palate. (LIWF)

Quevedo White Port – golden, with a fruity, demerara sugar-edged nose and palate, this is round, surprisingly fruity and well balanced, with around 110g of residual sugar. (LIWF)

Quevedo Rosé Port – very floral, fresh, elegant and long with rose petals and delicate red berry and cherry fruit. (LIWF)

Quevedo Ruby Port – a floral nose and palate with cassis and chocolate.  Not the most concentrated of styles but again, elegant and smooth in its delivery.  Well done and I prefer it to some of the bigger producer’s “yoof market” styles.  (LIWF)

Quevedo 2007 Vintage Port – very floral, with lifted violets, black berry, currant and cherry fruit.  It has the house’s signature elegant style, so it’s on the drier style, with a nice bit of grip too.  Presentation, of course, counts given the target market and this is sold in an attractive half bottle.  I must say, I like the shift towards smaller formats for fortified wines.  (LIWF)


Blandy’s Colheita Bual 1991 – a seriously mellow fellow, smooth as,  with rich, ripe, figgy dried fruit and cafe crème with spice; long, beautifully balanced and utterly engaging – a stand out wine of the tasting.

Blandy’s Colheita Malmsey 1992 – super smooth, with Demerara, maple syrup and vanilla.  Luscious.

Barbeito Sercial 1988 Frasqueira – a beautiful, delicate dry wine with lifted jasmine and subtly savoury mirin.  Long, persistent and focused.  Very good.

Barbeito 2000 Colheita Cask 40a – I adore Barbeito’s single cask colheitas and this new release lives up to every expectation, showing sweet citrus, barley sugar, jasmine and lifted mirin on nose and palate with a nutty spine to its long, racy finish.  Delightful.  (LIWF)

Broadbent Madeira Terrantez 1978 – apparently last year’s harvest yielded only 2 tons of this grape across the whole island.  I like its dry, savoury tobacco edge and this is a great example with more than a whiff of cafe creme blue cigar smoke to its rich core of sweet, dried fruit.  Very good.

Pereira D’Oliveira D’Oliveiras Colheita Serical 1989 – dry, characterful style with savoury nam pla and a salty tang to the finish; long and intense.

Pereira D’Oliveira D’Oliveiras Colheita Verdelho 1985 – a lifted mirin quality to the nose and a fruit-ful palate with guava; good length.

Pereira D’Oliveira D’Oliveiras Reserva Boal 1980 –rich and tangy with a lovely depth of dried, spicy fruit well balanced by acidity; elegant, long.

Pereira D’Oliveira D’Oliveiras Reserva Boal 1958 – a terrific depth of fruit and spice, this is intense and long.  Very good.

Sarah Ahmed
The Wine Detective
(Wines tasted 19 April 2010 at the Big Fortified Tasting and 19 May 2010 at London International Wine & Spirit Fair)

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