Deadlines and inexpensive Portuguese
If you fancy being a winewriter - or a writer of any kind, for that matter - one of the things you have to learn to live with, and be ruled by, is the deadline. I've always had a simple attitude to deadlines, and it goes something like this. You keep them. While it may not seem very rock 'n roll, and it makes me sound like the smug kid who always handed his homework in on time, I realise that I need editors more than they need me, so I'll do all I can to keep them happy. Along those lines I try never to renegotiate deadlines (which is pretty much the same as not meeting them) unless absolutely necessary. I don't know whether my fellow winewriters feel the same; I don't really want to know, because sticking to deadlines is hard work and it's a good habit to keep.
I've said all this because I've just been working past midnight to try to stick to a tight deadline for a book project I'm involved with, and it looks like I'll be a day late. I feel bad about this, but it's an unusual project, and fitting the brief involved has taken much longer than I suspected.
Two wines sampled tonight. Both inexpensive, both from Waitrose, and both from Portugal. Sogrape's Duque de Viseu Dao 2002 comes from a dodgy vintage. It's dry, a bit earthy, a bit spicy and showing some evolution. There's a pleasing savouriness, together with a bit of sweet warmth. A good food wine without any rough edges, but it's fading fairly fast. Pleasant enough drinking now, though.
Altano 2004 Douro is a fairly supple, midweight style, that speaks (or rather mutters) its Douro origins without really exciting at all. There's a savoury, herbal edge to the red and black fruits, and it sort of clamps down quickly on the finish. This is a wine that would perform well with food, but on its own it comes across a little ungenerously. Mind you, at this price (£4.99) I'd take it in preference to just about any similarly priced branded wine. The 2005 Altano, recently tasted, is a real step up in quality.
These aren't great wines, but 10 years ago their equivalents would have been much worse. Portuguese wines are evolving fast - it's a country wine nuts should keep their eyes on.