jamie goode's wine blog: 50 Great Portuguese wines, the list

Friday, January 30, 2009

50 Great Portuguese wines, the list

In response to demand, I've taken the 50 Great Portuguese Wines brochure and converted it from a v. large file to a smaller word document. You can access it here. Some of the formatting is lost, but the content is all there, including contact details of both producers and UK importers.



At 10:04 PM, Blogger Nerval said...

thank you for sharing this.
The following is meant as constructive debate, and fully acknowledging the difficulty of selecting just 50 wines from the amazing diversity Portugal has to offer.

I haven't closely followed the past editions of Top50, but from those I remember I see you selected more Dão wines than ever before.
While your choice of only 1 wine from Ribatejo and 2 from Estremadura is arguable, I like your selection of Alentejos that takes into account the stylistic diversity of the region.
In that light, you chose no fewer than 16 Douro red wines but all (save Barca Velha and Ramos Pinto, and perhaps Noval) in pretty much the same style, made to roughly the same recipe by the same restricted circle of winemakers.
Let's face it, Pintas, Poeira, Crasto, São José are all very similar, and your selection seems a little biased towards the ‘club’.
One thing that never seem to change from one Top50 to another is the marginal position of the white wines. You selected 5 Vinhos Verdes while no Arinto (I remember the Quinta da Murta Bucelas as one of the more exciting wines from Charles Metcalfe's selection), Encruzado, Antão Vaz, Bical, Fernão Pires (a simple grape but if you had the guts to select a Vinhão...) is deemed worth presenting to the world. Such a Top50 list is always part qualitative, part political statement. We all seem ready to embrace the indigenous red varieties of Portugal while equally ready to downplay the whites ones. This is a pity.

Once again, thank you for sharing, and for selecting a few obscure wines.

At 4:11 PM, Blogger Nick Oakley said...

Nerval (aka Wojciech)

Like your comments, and completely respect your views on Portuguese wines, but which white wines in particular might be cosidered 'great'? Good, and getter ever better, but greatness has yet to come, in my view.

The Douro 'club' is understandable - are there any other prodcuers with wines of this quality? Some new projects in the Upper Douro will come on stream soon, that will give the club a run for its money, but in the meantime I think the judgement was pretty fair.

All the best

At 10:33 PM, Anonymous Pedro Guimarães said...


For great portuguese white wines (besides some Jamie has already stated in his list) you should definitely search for...

Dão Quinta dos Roques Encruzado

Dão Quinta dos Carvalhais Encruzado

Bairrada Quinta das Bágeiras Garrafeira

Bairrada Luis Pato Vinha Formal

Douro Redoma Reserva

Just to name a few...

Of course the list represents Jamie's choices but i still miss there 2 names...

Quinta do Mouro Rótulo Dourado 2005 and Quinta do Monte d'Oiro Reserva 2004

Thanks Jamie for your effort with the portuguese juice and keep it up...



At 11:02 PM, Blogger Jamie said...

Thanks for your comments. I appreciate what you say, but I'd argue that there is diversity in my douro selection - Pintas and Poeira are quite different in style, for example.

As for whites, there are some really good ones, but in most cases these are made by producers who are making even better reds, and I didn't want to distort things by including a lesser white from a producer and omitting their better red.

Also, Portugal still produces much better reds than whites overall. The whites are interesting, but seldom 'great'.

Pedro, I did include Mouro's 2005 Gold label in my original list but they wouldn't send it. I would have had the regular 2005 Mouro as a substitute, but they couldn't send this either. They offered the 2004, but seeing as they were prepared to show the 2005s at a tasting in Lisbon in November, but wouldn't send them to this tasting, they dropped off the list.

At 11:27 PM, Blogger Nerval said...

Nick, always nice to hear from you.
My comment was not meant as a criticism but an invitation for Jamie to explain the rationale behind his choices (and, perhaps more importantly, omissions).

I didn't and wouldn't use the word 'great' with regard to Portuguese whites, but the Top50 list as I understand it is not about selecting 50 great wines, but rather showing a representative panorama of Portugal's current production. Jamie boldly selected varietal Vinhão and Bastardo which are hardly 'great' in objective terms.

In that light, I support Pedro that Quinta dos Roques Encruzado, Pato's Vinha Formal, and perhaps even a Murta Bucelas or a Fundação Pêra-Manca white would have deserved a mention.

Jamie & Nick, regarding Douro wines, I do see the 2009 list as a little one-sided. Perhaps reflecting the current situation in the Douro, it becomes dangerously reminiscent of Central Italy where the 100 top wineries are vinified by the same 5 or 6 consultants. Sandra Tavares, Jorge Borges, Jorge Moreira, Dirk Niepoort, João Brito e Cunha are (co-)making 2/3 of the wines on this list (or am I wrong?).
Q do Côtto Grande Escolha and Q do Roriz Reserva are two outstanding wines that would have added diversity to this list IMHO.

Of course, a selection is always a selection. Jamie had the full right to make his own one.

Best wishes to all

At 8:10 PM, Blogger Nick Oakley said...


The 50 Great was a concept dreamt up by the importers association here in the UK as a way of showcasing what is happening right now in Portugal. We deliberately used the word 'great' and not 'best' because the list might become stale if it were on PURE quality. We're trying to generate interest here, so it was nice to see a selection of truly great wines that were, at the same time, capable of provoking debate. This is what it's all about.

Keep up the good work with your wine books for the Polish market

Pedro -agree, the wines you mention are pretty good, and I think we will start to see some even more interesting whites in the future. Watch out for Esporao and Joao Ramos in the Alentejo, who have some very interesting grape varieties planted for future whites. Quinta de Sant'Ana in the Estremadura, too, has produced a sauvignon of some interest and has three different clones of riesling planted -two clones from the Mosel and one from Alsace. As long as the Atlantic breezes keep the temperatures fresh they might be pretty good too.

At 8:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

During the tasting, João Pires, wine director at The Capital, asked Jamie why only 5 white wines and Jamie said, like here, that for most cases he still thinks reds are better than whites chez portuguese top wineries. Meaning, Pé Franco is better than Formal, Pintas better than Guru or Pellada better than Primus, just to name a few.
Everybody agrees? I would say yes for the most part.
I did mention to Jamie that an Arinto would be welcome :-)
What other great, or wanting to be great, white wines come from Portugal:
Minho: Muros de Melgaço (present with another wine), Dorado, Vinha Antiga, Covela Escolha (present with another wine).
Douro: Vértice, Redoma Reserva (present with another wine), Maritávora, Gouvyas Reserva (present with another wine), Conceito (present with another wine), Castelo d'Alba Vinhas Velhas, Alves de Sousa Reserva Pessoal (present with another wine), Perfil Reserva, Grandjó Late Harvest,
Bairrada: Bágeiras Garrafeira (present with another wine), Frei João Reserva (older vintages), Campolargo Arinto and Diga?
Dão: Carvalhais Encruzado and Colheita Seleccionada, Quinta dos Roques Encruzado (present with another wine), Quinta das Marias
Estremadura, Ribatejo and Bucelas: Madrigal, Pancas Chardonnay Reserva, Morgado de Sta. Catharina
(i'll pass on Alentejo, don't know the whites so well :-(
So, the list is not too long.

joão roseira

At 8:08 PM, Blogger Nerval said...

João, I think you nailed it. Overall, no doubt red wines are more exciting than white in almost all Portuguese regions. Given the choice between Pé Franco and Formal, Pintas and Guru, I would opt for the red.
But on a 50-strong list I indeed would have put more than 5 whites, and more diverse than only VV / Alvarinho / Loureiro.
For example, it would have been fine to choose a white Covela instead of the red.
Of course, the balance of any such list is at the discretion of the author, and Jamie was in his right. The purpose of my initial comment was to obtain a comment from Jamie, nothing else.


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