50 Great Portuguese Wines 2009
So yesterday was the 50 Great Portuguese wines tasting - the 2009 installment where I got to choose 50 of my favourite Portuguese wines to show to the press and trade at large, hosted at the Ambassador's residence.
I was a bit nervous. While, of course, the wines speak for themselves, the selection I made did leave out some big names who might have expected to be there, and included some less well known smaller producers, who I think really deserved to be there, but whose presence was a bit of a surprise to many.
The tasting was really well attended, and even at the close there were still a lot of people still working their way through the wines. I got lots of favourable comments (mind you, who is going to be blunt enough to tell me they didn't like the wines), although I know some people couldn't get their heads around the Concieto Bastardo, which is a really pale red wine ('a bit thin', said one old boy who I think must measure the merit of red wine by its opacity), but one with amazing elegance and aromatics. The red Vino Verde (Afros Vinhao) also split the tasters: some really loved it, others didn't get it at all.
A few wines didn't show well, which was disappointing. I can think of three that didn't really justfy their presence on yesterday's showing, although my previous experience of them has been really positive. I was really pleased by the way the Alentejo line up showed - this included some less obvious choices (and a couple of notable omissions).
The tasting was followed by a dinner which included the Portuguese wine awards. Journalism prize went to Sarah Ahmed, who will pick next years Top 50, and they couldn't have made a better choice: Sarah knows Portuguese wines really well, and I'm looking forward to tasting her selection this time next year.
Finally, a word about ViniPortugal. They are widely recognized to be the BEST of the trade bodies of any wine-producing country, providing excellent support to both journalists and the wine trade. They're doing a really good job, and I hope that whoever is in charge of funding them in Portugal recognizes the important work they do.