Three more terrific Douro whites
Last week’s extensive (120 wines & 17,630 word) report on latest Douro releases focused on those New Douro wines that I tasted in November in Vila Nova de Gaia. Here are three more top notch Douro whites I’d hate you to miss. By the way, these fresh, taut, whip-sharp wines all hail from the generally warmer, drier Douro Superior. When the site is right, you should never under-estimate the Douro!
Conceito Douro Branco 2013 (Teja Valley, Douro Superior)
Winemaker Rita Marques first made her mark with her white wines. When I visited in 2012 she surprised me when she told me that the Teja Valley is the coolest spot in the Douro. The 2013 vintage has a rich but firm, well-focused nose and palate. It is beautifully groomed by classy French oak, which brings its very own vanilla bean spice and lemon oil signature notes to the party. They segue to great effect with this wine’s ample but energetic ripe lemony fruit, savoury lees and smoky, steely, salty minerality. A very long, poised finish has wonderful salty piquancy which amplifies its breathtaking freshness. Fabulous. 13%
Quinta de Maritávora Grande Reserva 2011 (Freixo de Espada à Cinta, Douro Superior)
It was good to catch up with Manuel Gomes Mota at the Annual Portugal Tasting in London; he is seeking a UK importer. I’d not seen him since I visited his elevated Douro Superior estate in 2012 and tasted this wine – for me his most exciting – from barrel. Located at an average altitude of about 500 metres and away from the river, the quinta experiences relatively cool conditions with pronounced continentality. At night, temperatures can plummet from between 30, even 40 degrees in the summer to 15 degrees. Sourced from vines over a hundred years old (a field blend vineyard with ancient olive trees in the mix), this wine always see new French oak and is barrel fermented (inoculated yeasts) and aged (for several months) on the lies. The lies are stirred regularly during the first 3 months, then just once a month. All in all very auspicious, especially when the wine is made by Wine & Soul’s Jorge Serodio Borges, maker of high flier Guru white. It has a tight, toasty nose with struck match (“sexy sulphides”), ripe lemon/lemon peel, steelier grapefruit and assertive, very crystalline mineral acidity which gives great line and length. Smoked hazelnut oak to the finish adds complexity and dimension. Still very youthful. Deeply impressive; based on my visit, I expect it to age very well. 12.5%
Muxagat Os Xistos Altos Rabigato 2012 (Muxagata, Douro Superior)
A funky, struck match “sexy sulphides” inflected nose; tight. But with its powerful quartz-edge and firm, muscular white peach and quince fruit the palate is very different from the Maritavora. Not for the first time, it puts me in mind of great dry Loire Chenin from Anjou (pictured, the 2010 vintage following my first review of Mateus Nicolau de Almeida’s wines), but its super-tensile crystalline quality and long, very persistent stony acidity reinforce the impression. Packs a heck of a punch for such low alcohol! 12%