Two impressive newer Alentejo reds
Friday night after a satisfying week of hard work. I'm still trying to get the balance right as a freelancer, and a couple of weeks ago I realized that I was probably spending a little too much time travelling and going to tastings and dinners, and not enough time actually writing. One of the strengths of having a well-read website is that you can write everything up. What I've found of late is that I was accumulating enormous amounts of information that deserved a readership, but wasn't getting written-up.
So I've made a bit of a shift, and this week I've had quite a few days spent at home, working, with just one day and one evening spent in London. [I'm off to Tuscany next week though.] So, to close a week of much writing, I decided to do a bit of compare and contrast with two Alentejo reds, both of which are from relatively new projects.
It's a slightly unbalanced comparison, in that one of the wines (the Malhadinha) is more expensive, but they are both from the same vintage. Both are highly impressive. The first is the second vintage from winewriter Richard Mayson's project in Portalegre; the second is the fourth vintage from Malhadinha Nova, in Albenoa, which is much further south, and therefore quite a bit warmer. Both involve consultant winemakers. Richard has chosen Rui Reguinga, while the Soares family have chosen Luis Duarte. I've decanted both bottles to give them a chance to evolve and show what they have to offer. Some more points to note: both wines have brilliant label design, and both are aged in French rather than American oak.
Pedro Basta 2006 Alentejo, Portugal
A blend of Trincadeira, Aragonez, Alicante Bouschet and Cabernet Sauvignon, aged for 12 months in new and used French oak. Dark blackberry fruit on the nose with overt roast coffee character, plus a bit of plummy spiciniess. Quite savoury. The palate is dense with some firm, savoury, spicy structure underneath the sweet blackberry and plum fruit. Quite well structured with nice balance and focus. This is a warm climate wine with nice definition. 90/100 (£10.50 The Wine Society)
Herdade de Malhadinha Nova 'Malhadinha' 2006 Alentejo, Portugal
A blend of Alicante Bouschet, Touriga Nacional, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon, aged for 14 months in new French oak. Aromatically intense, with beautifully forward lush, sweet blackberry and blackcurrant fruit. Real purity here, as well as some warm spicy notes. The palate is ripe and sweet with concentrated, lush, pure fruit that marries well with some spicy oak notes. Despite the sweetness, there's lovely spicy definition and good acidity. Delicious now, but with the potential to develop. 93/100