wines of Almeida Garrett, Beira Interior, Portugal
SABE—Sociedade Agricola de Beira
Portugal is a diverse wine country.
It’s not just about the fabulous Douro, Dão, Bairrada and
Alentejo, the best known of the regions. There are also other
winegrowing areas with a distinct identity, and still emerging from
the shadows is a region called the Beira Interior, which runs up the
eastern side of the country, bridging the Alentejo and Douro.
vineyard, looking down to Covilhã
From Tortosendo at the foot of the Serra
d’Estrela mountains in the Beira Interior, José Almeida Garrett
runs the family winery, with vineyards in the Vale de Gardunha and
the southern slopes of the Serra de Gardunha. His family are the
descendants of the famous 19th century author, poet and freedom
fighter Almeida Garrett, which is the brand used for the wines.
One vineyard is near Tortosendo, with 12
hectares planted to Tinta Roriz and Touriga Nacional on granitic
soils. Vine age is a respectable 28 years, and it’s at an altitude
of 430–450 metres. Then there are 16 hectares near the river
Zezere, at 320–360 metres, with sandy granitic soils. We visited a
third vineyard, 16 hectares planted in 1998 at altitude (550–580
metres), with granitic soils, looking down to the town of Covilhã.
José’s wines are well made and well
priced: they deserve more recognition. As well as using local
varieties, he’s also using some international varieties such as
Chardonnay and Syrah.
Almeida Garret Chardonnay 2008
13.5% alcohol. Full yellow colour. Quite rich, toasty and
buttery with a nice fresh lemony finish. A full, rich Chardonnay
with nice depth of fruit. 88/100
Almeida Garrett Chardonnay Reserva
13.5% alcohol. Barrel-fermented for 14 months in a mix of old
and new oak, using double lees (incorporating the lees from the
regular Chardonnay). Deep yellow/gold colour. Very rich, toasty,
nutty nose. Palate is sophisticated, textured and quite elegant,
with smooth fruit, citrus notes and good acidity. A food-compatible
Entre Serras (called ‘Star
Mountain’ in UK) Tinto 2008
A blend of Shiraz and Aragonês, with a bit of Trincadeira.
Lovely vivid, focused dark fruits here: cherry, raspberry,
blackberry. Lovely grip and fresh acidity. A delicious, impactful,
fruit-driven wine. 88/100 (Available at Co-op in UK - around £6)
Entre Serras (Star Mountain) Tinto
2009 tank sample
Bright, vivid, pure dark fruits. Very fruity with a bit more
suppleness than the 2008. Very stylish fruit-driven style.
Almeida Garrett Colheita Seleccionada
Tinto 2008 (cask sample)
A blend of Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz and Trincadeira. Very
dark coloured. Beautiful supple vibrant pure dark cherry and
blackberry fruit dominates this wine. Vivid and expressive with a
signature of vibrant, fresh fruit. Deliciously focused and pure.
Almeida Garrett Touriga Nacional 2007
Bit of spicy toasty oak on the nose with some roasted notes. The
palate shows vibrant fruit with some spicy, phenolic notes adding
rusticity. Some brett here? Not as pure as it could be. 85/100
Almeida Garrett Syrah 2007
Lovely vibrant, fresh spicy dark fruits here with some savoury
structure. The palate is dense, spicy and tannic with firm savoury
character. Quite tight and firm at the moment but with nice fruit.
Almeida Garrett Reserva 2007
Lovely balance here. Richly fruited but expressive with nice
blackcurrant and berry fruits as well as some sophisticated,
well-integrated oak. Very fruity but structured with good balance
between the fruit and the more savoury, structural notes. 92/100
Almeida Garrett Espumante Bruto
The first vintage of this sparkling wine, which is based on
Chardonnay. Lovely toasty nose with richly aromatic bready notes.
Taut palate with a savoury, herbal finish. It’s very dry with
assertive citrus fruit. Distinctive and food friendly, this has real
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