Tasting Portugal's best
Each year, a journalist gets asked to pick what they consider to be Portugal's 50 top wines, which are then used as the basis for a tasting held each February at the Portuguese Embassy. It's a popular event that's usually full to bursting. So far, Richard Mayson, Tim Atkin and Charles Metcalfe have done the honours; this year the job has fallen to Simon Woods.
Because he's an all-round nice chap, Simon invited a few of his journalist chums to join him in tasting through the pre-selection samples. It turns out I was the only one able to take up this generous offer, and so I spent an enjoyable few hours with him yesterday afternoon and this morning, steadily working through over a hundred wines from all the major Portuguese regions.
The wines turned out to be a little mixed. As you might expect, the Douro put in a strong showing, although I wonder whether 2005 is quite the vintage some people reckon it is. While the 2005s looked good at the New Douro tasting last month, they didn't look as good today. Perhaps just a little too warm in the Douro during the 2005 growing season?
The whites (from all regions) showed strongly. Yes, it was a small group, but Portuguese whites are getting better and better. However, the reds from Estremadura and Ribatejo struggled a bit. Some good wines, but no great ones. Many average bottles.
The selection from Dao was small but good, with the various wines from Alvaro Castro leading the way, followed by a couple from Sogrape. We had a few nice Bairrada wines, but all were labelled 'Beiras', rather than using the Bairrada appellation itself.
The Alentejo reds were pretty good in a ripe, modern style. Again, 2005 seems quite a warm vintage, in what is already a warm-climate region. As an aside, the Douro and Alentejo together account for the majority of Portugal's top wines, I reckon.