jamie goode's wine blog: Two from Esporão in Portugal's Alentejo

Friday, May 16, 2008

Two from Esporão in Portugal's Alentejo

I would like to like the Esporão wines more. Let me try to explain what I mean by this.

Esporão is one of the largest producers in Portugal's Alentejo region. Based in Reguengos, they make large quantities of the Monte Velha brand, plus some more serious wines, the Reservas (tried here), the varietal wines, and a few high-end bottlings such as the Garrafeira. David Baverstock, an Aussie who's been working in Portugal for a coulple of decades, is the likeable and extremely able chief winemaker.

It would be so convenient if I really liked the wines. After all, they are highly thought of in Portugal, and I'm a big fan of all things Portuguese. But I'm not all that keen on the reds, and this Reserva in particular. I think it's the imprint of American oak that I find off-putting. But this could just be a personal thing. The white Reserva is very nice.

Esporão Reserva (Tinto) 2005 Alentejo, Portugal
A blend of the Trincadeira, Aragones and Cabernet Sauvignon grape varieties, this is a deep-coloured wine. It shows fresh, bright plum and blackberry flavours, with a distinctive slightly roasted, tarry savoury edge and a hint of bitterness, that isn't completely masked by the sweet coconut and vanilla characters from the American oak that was used here. It's an attractive, food-friendly red, but, if I'm going to be ultracritical, I don't find the oak that well integrated, and the bitterness on the finish is a bit off-putting. 85/100 (£12.30, UK agent Charles Hawkins)

Esporão Reserva (Branco) 2007 Alentejo, Portugal
A blend of Arinto, Antão Vaz and Roupeiro that spends six months in new French and American oak barrels. The nose is attractive, with lemony fruit as well as some grapefruit freshness, and any oak notes right in the background. The palate is savoury, with citrus pith and grapefruit, together with a hint of waxiness and good acidity. A food-friendly style of wide appeal, with very little obvious oak, aside from a hint of vanilla. It's a really nice wine. 89/100 (£9.95 UK agent Charles Hawkins)

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At 11:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why the hell did you give it 85 out of 100 if you're "not keen" on it?

Have you ever given a wine less than 80 points?

At 10:46 PM, Blogger Jamie said...

Because as a critic, you have to step back, and look at quality divorced somewhat from personal perference. I think a lot of people would like this wine; personally, I seem to have a problem with the excessive lactones from American oak.

Yes, I have scored below 80 many times, but tend not to write about such wines here.

At 11:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK, I understand what you're saying.

Would be nice to see those wines that you don't rate, though, otherwise it just makes it look like you love everything

At 9:39 AM, Blogger Mark said...

85 is pretty lukewarm, if you know the parker scale.

Do you reckon the Esporao white will age for a bit, Jamie?


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