The Wine Society: a Portugal focus, 3 Bairrada beauts & a Douro 6 pack

Of the major retailers, I reckon that The Wine Society has the most interesting range of Portuguese wines.  Little did I know, until I visited last week, that of the  1700 bottles comprised in its very first opening offer, 1100 bottles were Portuguese. Nor did I appreciate that these wines were left over from an industrial exhibition held at the Royal Albert Hall in 1874. It explains why one of its founders, Major-General Henry Scott, was the Royal Albert Hall’s architect! You can hear Ewan Murray, The Wine Society’s Head of Tastings, Events & PR talk about it on a BBC radio programme here

Below you’ll find my notes on a trio of top drops from Bairrada listed in the current Portuguese portfolio, together with heads up tasting notes on a forthcoming August offer of six Douro reds.    I also had the chance to taste samples short-listed for their November Portuguese offer and, as soon as the final line up is confirmed, I’ll let you know more, because it included some exciting wines that I’d not come across before.  Watch this space, and for highlights of their Australia, the Loire and South Africa range.  And click here to find out more about The Wine Society, including how to join.

3 Bairrada beauts

Vinhos Doidos Bossa  2009 (Bairrada) –  lemon rind and grapefruit to the nose and palate.  Nice weight and freshness betrays the skilful hand of Filipa Pato, one of my favourite Portuguese producers.  This is a very attractive, characterful white for only £6.75  – blows the supermarket fodder at this price out of the water!

Quinta da Rigodeira Baga Bairrada 2005 (Bairrada) – a smoky, toasty oak veneer on nose and palate adds a savoury twist to a vibrant core of juicy black and red fruits supported by fine tannins. A well made Baga, approachable now and with plenty of go too.  Another great buy for a wine of such character at £7.50.

Quinta do Encontro Preto Branco 2004 (Bairrada) – a lovely inky/floral nose and palate with well-defined sweet red cherry and currant fruit.  Great freshness,  line and length with elegant fine-grained tannins.  A poised and perfumed blend of Touriga Nacional, Bical (a white variety) and Baga from Dao Sul which you can drink now or keep for a  decade.  Yep, another excellent buy at £11.95.  Decant before serving to allow it to open up.

A Douro six pack

A six pack that shows off  the Douro very well.

Conceito Contraste 2007 – Conceito’s Rita Ferreira is an exciting young producer to watch (a report on my recent tasting & lunch with Rita to follow).  This entry level wine from her range is well balanced with fleshy red and black cherry fruit, cherry stone, dried herbs and warm earth.  Though ripe, there’s a nice bit of grip to the tannins which suggests it would pair well with food.  Good to go now and will keep a few years. 

Quinta do Vale Meao Meandro 2007 – this, the second wine of this leading Douro Superior estate (see my profile here), is looking very refined, structured and elegant in 2007.  A blend of 30% Touriga Nacional, 30% Touriga Franca, 30% Tinta Roriz and 10% Tinta Barocca it’s mineral (a touch of salt lick here) and sinewy with tight knit red and black cherry and berry fruit.  Really very good.  Drinking now but maybe better in a year or so and will keep several years.

Quinta do Vesuvio Pombal 2007 – a fleshy, open knit wine with smooth, ripe tannins whose darker mocha and figgy notes are well balanced by a core of fresh red berry fruit.  (My notes on a recent visit to Vesuvio including a tasting of the top wine, Quinta do Vesuvio, to follow).

Quinta la Rosa Reserva 2005 – a complex, layered wine with fresh and baked cherry fruit, mostly black, some red, with attractive eucalypt and dried sage notes wrapped around a firm back bone of tannins.  Good length and still quite tight.  Very good.  Broachable now, though would reward keeping a year or so and will keep a decade plus.

Passadouro Reserva 2005 – I love the chiselled minerality and sinewy tannins of the Reserve, both signature notes of this wine.  The fruit is concentrated and compact with tighly coiled black currant and berry fruit.  Excellent – one to hold a couple of years and will easily last 10 plus years.

Prats & Symington Chryseia 2005 – the nose and palate show savoury, smoky bacon oak which, in the mouth, is well matched by concentrated yet elegant berry fruit with a complexing undertow of minerals; pretty youthful and tight with ripe but powerful tannins, it’s broachable now but again, would benefit from a couple of years in bottle and will cruise along nicely for ten years plus.  I’m told that a recent vertical of Chryseia back to 2000 (the first vintage) confirmed its ageability.  I’ll shortly be writing up notes of my visit to Quinta do Roriz, the new home of Chryseia (pictured).

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