Tasting Notes: ‘Beyond Port – the great still wines of Portugal’ presented by Carolyn Bosworth-Davies AWE, 25 October 2017

Carolyn Bosworth-Davies is a specialist on the wines of Portugal. We soon appreciated that Portugal is more than Port and Vinho Verde, with a large number (200+) of different grape varieties. Most of these we had not heard of, could not spell or pronounce. There is an emerging appetite for making wine which showcases this, rather than pursuing any replanting with more recognised varieties. Carolyn brought along a fabulous array of wines which she discussed with an infectious enthusiasm.

Sogrape, Casa Ferreirinha Planalta Reserva Douro 2016:  A very pale white wine from an array of grape varieties, and each variety is fermented separately, before being blended. A long cool fermentation. Some of the vineyards are fairly high, giving some minerality. Good acidity also, and a beautiful well balanced wine.  (£9.99 Majestic)

Quinta de Soalheiro Alvarinho Vinho Verde 2016: From hilly vineyards, grown on tall pergolas with other crops beneath due to the general shortage of available land for cultivation. Not oaked. Slightly petillant as often with Vinho Verde. Some pineapple and tropical fruit overtones, although not overly so, a classic good alvarinho. (£16 Wine Society)

Terrenus Branco Alentejo Portalegre 2015:  Winemaker Rui Reguinga. Very old (80-100yo) bush vines. Made of 3 varieties: Arinto, Fernao Pires and Roupeiro. Another high vineyard, 600 to 800m, near the Spanish border. Some oak from new French barrels, but only sufficient to balance and not overpower the wine. Fernao Pires gives some aromatic notes and slightly honeyed nose, but nice minerality and balance, a lovely wine.  (10.95 Wine Society)

Quinta do Ribeiro Santo, Dao 2015:  An unoaked red, rich ruby colour. A rich mouthful, fruity and earthy but not heavy. Possible slight menthol on the nose? Not complex but very drinkable! (£7.95 Wine Society)

Filipa Pato Territorio Vivo Baga Bairrada 2015:   Made by the young member of this winemaking family;  Filipa is trying to bring out the best of the traditional grapes. 80 yo Baga vines, pressed by foot,  fermented in old oak ‘lagas’ (barrels) and then aged in old barrels. Rich cherry colour. Needs to be decanted for an hour or so, but the sour-cherry and hints of cigar-box will be good with traditional suckling pig or other fatty meats. (£16.50 Wine Society)

Ramos Reserva Alentejo 2015: A mix of grapes – Trincadeira, Aragonez (which is Tempranillo apparently) and a little Syrah. A modern wine style, fruit-driven and well-made, if a little one-dimensional.   ( Majestic £8.99)

Quinta do Crasto Douro 2015: From the Cima Corgo area of the Douro. Touriga Franca, T National and Aragonez (Tempranillo) From 20 yo vines, 95% is fermented in stainless steel vats with 5% in oak barrels. Deep red fruits aromatic and big structure but tannins still subtle, a very classy wine. Good balance of fruit and acidity. Could do with a bit more age to be at its best. (£9.50 Wine Society, but also check Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Douro).

Adega de Pegoes, Moscatel de Setubal:  I had forgotten these wines existed. Fortified with grape spirit to 17.5%, a beautiful orange-gold coloured sweet wine but the sweetness does not overpower. A fabulous nose of tangerines with kumquats on the palate, very fresh taste. Extremely good value for money – a real surprise on the night.  (Wine Society £8.25 for 75cl bottle)

Sally Harris