The Douro: a round up of recent tasting highlights

In the last fortnight I’ve posted tasting notes on the latest releases from the Douro Boys (see here) and New Douro producers (see here).  Below you’ll find the highlights from a generic tasting in Oporto last July – some familiar names but a couple of new ones too.   I reckon that João Brito e Cunha’s Quinta de S. José Reserva 2008 might just be his best yet.  Enjoy!

White wines

João Brito e Cunha Ázeo Branco 2009 – a smoky, flinty, talcy nose and palate with nice length and minerality.  Consistent with the vintage it’s not as tight as the 2008 but nonetheless, well honed.

Quinta do Passadouro Passadouro Branco 2009 – a fresh, saline nose and palate with  ripe lemony notes to the finish.  As I’ve previously noted, it’s quite Sancerre-like in its grassiness and clean, mineral line.  Well done.

Dona Matilde White 2009 – this unoaked wine undergoes a short skin maceration and shows plenty of flavour with ripe, honeyed tropical fruit and poached pears.

Red wines

Barão de Vilar Timbre Douro Tinto 2008 – a fresh, vinous nose with bright red cherry fruit.  In the mouth it shows hints of gum cistus and dark chocolate to its red cherry fruit supported by fine powdery tannins; quite elegant.

Quinta dos Quatro Ventos Tinto 2007 – a deep colour with glossy dark fruit edged with eucalypt and dried sage and smooth tannins.  Well made and ready to go.

CARM Grande Reserva 2007 – rich, ripe black cherry with spicy gingerbread, warm earth and a lifted, menthol note.  Good structure too with an underlying freshness.  Incidentally I also tasted CARM’s new unsulphured 2009 Touriga Nacional.  The fruit was badly oxidised/aldehydic – difficult to know if it was just a rogue bottle but I was interested to see that this organic producer continues to push boundaries.

Dão Sul Flor de Tecedeiras 2008 – a lively nose, peppery and perfumed with violets and orange blossom.  Quite grippy on the palate but some good spicy, dark fruit well balanced by fresh acidity.

Duorum Reserva Vinhas Velhas 2007 – an elegant, modern red with a good intensity of succulent black fruits and lifted violet and pepper notes.

Duorum Reserva Vinhas Velhas 2008 – spicier with pepper to the fore and a little more grunt/texture to the palate, though retains freshness and elegance.

Duorum Tons de Duorum 2008 – a forward mid-weight style but with good Douro typicity this new entry level wine is a blend of Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional and Tinta Roriz.  It shows red and blackberry fruits, hints of rock rose, eucalyptus even, which follow through on a juicy palate characterised by raspberry, blackberry and plum with hints of dark chocolate.  Good buy at £8.49.  (Tasted in London, November 2010)

João Brito e Cunha Quinta de S. José Reserva 2008 – I visited this propitiously located quinta (pictured) in December 2009 (see my report here) and much admire the wines.  I reckon this is the best yet.  It’s tight, very mineral, sooty almost on the nose.  In the mouth it’s powerful, tight-knit and tensile with a firm backbone of ripe but present tannins behind which lurks a concentrated as yet contained core of bilberry, red and black cherry.  Terrific minerality too.  Needs time to flesh out but plenty of sinew and backbone here – impressive and, I suspect, will be magnificent.

Quanta Terra Grande Reserva 2007 – spice and pepper on the nose which follow through on the palate together with violets, crushed black and red berry and currant fruit. Though it’s a touch toasty at the moment, good underyling freshness and the concentration of fruit suggests this will integrate with time.

Quinta do Infantado  Reserva Douro 2008 – a dark spectrum of flavours here with tight-knit blackcurrant fruit and clove spice amply supported by ripe but present tannins.  Needs time.

Quinta do Infantado Red 2008 – very spicy with good line thanks to well-defined raspberry and black cherry fruit and a firm backbone of tannin. (Tasted January 2011 at the Liberty portfolio tasting in London).

Quinta do Infantado  Reserva Douro 2007 – a powerful girder of tannin is somewhat tamed by fleshy red fruits, flowers, dark chocolate and a hint of ginger spice (?).(Tasted January 2011 at the Liberty portfolio tasting in London).

Quevedo Claudia’s 2009 – named after the winemaker, this deep, inky wine has a good concentration of succulent red and black fruits edged with cedar oak and cinnamon spice.  Quite firm tannins lend support.

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