A visit with Baga Friends: Sidónio de Sousa highlights

Last month, I visited with Baga Friends.  We kicked off with a tasting at Sidónio de Sousa, which is the name of the gentleman in the middle, winemaker Paulo de Sousa’s father.  His grandson is on the left.  

The family have grown grapes for wine at the 12 hectare estate in Ancas for generations, but only bottled the first Sidónio de Sousa wine in 1990.  On this trip, we tasted their debut white wine, made in  2016.

We kicked off with a delicious sparkling Baga Rosé.  The perfect way to christen the tour!

 Sidónio de Sousa Espumante Rosé Brut Nature 2015 (Bairrada)

Brut Nature means no dosage which suits Baga fizz (traditional method) very well.  It has a fine, persistent bead, light floral and cranberry notes and the variety’s classic, firm acidity and smoky minerality.   Unusually, this wine comes from a vineyard which is specifically allocated to sparkling wines (i.e. this is not the earlier-picked by product of a red wine). The fruit is picked around 2-3 weeks before Baga destined for red wines.   It was aged on lees for around 15-16 months.  11.5%

 Sidónio de Sousa Espumante Branco Brut Nature 2015 (Bairrada)

This is a blend of Bical, Maria Gomes and Arinto, again with no dosage.  The Arinto makes for a lemony palate with lightly herbal nuances.  Fruit that is still very pronounced in a magnum of the 2013, which had lovely freshness.  The 2015 is well-focused with a fine bead and chalky mineral finish.  The fruit for both fizz is grown on chalky clay soils.  It was aged on lees for around 18 months.  12%

Sidónio de Sousa Reserva Branco 2016 (Bairrada)

This is the estate’s very first dry, still, white wine.  Unoaked, it is made from Bical, Maria Gomes and Cerceal.  Pale in hue, in the mouth it has crisp acidity and a linear, mineral palate with a hint of nutty phenolic texture.  For Paulo Sousa, white wines are a big evolution in Bairrada and well suited to the region, whether for sparkling base wine or white wines.  This is a good first effort, neatly capturing the Atlantic’s freshness, Bairrada’s chalky soils/minerality and the varieties.  13%

Sidónio de Sousa Garrafeira 2011 (Bairrada)

The top tier Garrafeira was first made in 1995.   Vinification is in small lagares with partial stems (and no addition of yeasts or enzymes).  The wine is aged in big, old 4000l toneis.  Very traditional.   The aim is structure and concentration and, in 2011, a big in everything vintage,  Sidónio de Sousa have produced a powerful, but very balanced Garrafeira.  My stand out of the reds.  It has a dark nose with iodine/smoky minerals, pine needle and blackberry fruit, sluiced with chalky minerality – even the acidity – clean and firm  – seems sluiced, as if filtered.  It pulls out and away from the fruit, making for a long, persistent finish inflected with liquorice spice.  This majestic Baga surely has a long life ahead.  Very good indeed.  I found the 2009 Garrafeira a little austere in comparison and the ‘97 a touch high-toned for me. 13%

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