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Portugal's leading wines: 30 tasted

Everyone knows that Portuguese wines have come a long way in a relatively short space of time. Now there are loads of them, and each year another group of producers join the ranks of those who are making really interesting wines.

These 30 wines were those I tasted from Charles Metcalfe’s selection of 50 Great Portuguese wines, which for the last three years has been an annual event, with a different journalist chosen each time to make the selection (so far Richard Mayson, Tim Atkin and Charles Metcalfe have had the honour; in 2008 it was Simon Woods - and I have the gig for 2009)

The 30 selected here just happen to be the wines I tasted of the 50. Many were familiar to me, some were new, and most were really impressive.

Niepoort Redoma Branco Reserva 2005 Douro
Bright lemony nose is aromatic and precise with some toastiness. Waxy, weighty, lively palate is taut and complex with good acidity. It’s really alive. 92/100

Cortes de Cima Reserva 2003 Alentejo
A bloend of Syrah, Aragonês and Touriga Nacional. Very sweet, intense bright fruity nose is perfumed and sweet. Powerful, intense sweet spicy palate has fresh fruit and good acidity. Nice tannins, too. 92/100

Esporão Garrafeira 2003 Alentejo
Fresh, ripe, chocolatey nose. Lovely fruit on the palate that’s ripe but fresh and bright with it. 88/100

JB Bastos Garrafeira 2004 Alentejo
This is an old vine Alicante Bouschet wine, fermented in lagares and aged in new French oak. Deep coloured, it has an inky liqueur-like nose that’s sweet, intense and fruity. The palate is dense with lots of fruit and a chocolatey richness. Intense, vivid and still fresh, this is modern but not overly so. 92/100

Malhadinha Nova Malhadinha 2004 Alentejo
Sweet, nicely perfumed nose. Lovely lushness to the rich fruit on the palate with a spicy finish. Concentrated and intense. 93/100

Monte de Penha Gerações Reserva 2004 Alentejo
Dark, ripe, chocolatey nose is quite savoury. The palate shows concentrated dark fruits with an earthy, spicy edge and some good acidity. It’s spicy and nicely rustic: a bold style. 92/100

Fundação Eugénio de Almeida Pêra-Manca Tinto 2001 Alentejo
Herby, earthy, spicy nose is full of interest: it’s quite open, with a liqueur-like richness. The palate is thrillingly complex with open sweet spicy fruit. Old fashioned, perhaps, but lovely and elegant. 94/100

Torre de Esporão 2004 Alentejo
This comes in a hideous frosted glass bottle. It has a sweet liqueur-like nose. The palate is dense and full with spicy liqueur-like texture to the ripe fruit. It’s smooth and intense, in an unashamed new world style, but very well done. 93/100

Frei João Reserva 2001 Barraida
Light earthy, savoury cherryish fruit on the nose. The palate is midweight, fresh and bright with good acid and nice tannins. 84/100

Quinta das Baceladas 2003 Bairrada
Smooth liqueur-like red fruits nose. The palate is lively and fresh with lots of sweet bright fruit. Made in a modern style. 90/100

Quinta das Bágeiras Garrafeira 2003 Bairrada
Fresh, vivid, spicy, grippy and intense, this is a wine that demands some concentration. There’s a hint of greenness and nice bright acidity, too. It’s a solid Bairrada that’s full of personality. 92/100

Filipa Pato Lokal Silex 2005 Beiras
This is from the Dão region, but because the grapes are moved out of the region for winemaking the wine is labelled under the umbrella appellation Beiras. Very deep coloured. Fresh, vivid nose of ripe dark fruits. Blackcurranty and a bit jammy. The palate shows bold, smooth fruit with lots of intensity and chocolate and earth notes. Dense and chunky, and really appealing. 91/100

Quinta de Foz de Arouce Vinhas Velhas de Sta Maria Beiras 2003 Beiras
Smooth, pure and quite elegant, showing sophisticated red fruits and good structure. An exciting wine. 92/100

Rogenda Reserva 2003 Beiras
A varietal Touriga Nacional. Deep coloured. Nice density of bright herb and spice tinged fruit, with good acidity, nice structure and some earthiness. A traditional style that’s savoury and quite full. 90/100

Luis Pato Vinha Barrosa 2005 Beiras
Sweet, smooth and dense. The palate is lively and full with lovely dense fruit, good spiciness and nice tannins and acidity. Lively, vibrant and delicious. 93/100

Sogrape Callabriga 2004 Dão
Sweet, spicy and chocolatey. Quite fresh with nice fruit and weight. 89/100

Dão Sul CCCC 2003 Dão
A blend of four varieties: Touriga Nacional, Alfrocheiro, Tinta Roriz and Baga. Dense, savoury and expressive with good acidity and some grippy tannins. Really appealing expressive wine. 90/100

Quinta da Pellada 2005 Dão
Deep coloured, this is a deliciously intense style of Dão. Intense, full and ripe on the nose, with some sweetness to the fruit. The palate is concentrated and full with lovely vivid fruit that’s beautifully expressive. Great acidity and tannic structure, too. A thrilling wine. 95/100

Quinta dos Roques Reserva 2003 Dão
Fresh, bright and quite vivid on the nose, with nice fruit and tannin on the palate. There’s some earthy structure. Good acidity keeps things fresh. 90/100

Dado 2004
A Dão/Douro blend, this is a collaboration between Alvaro Castro and Dirk Niepoort. Vivid fresh red and black fruits nose is focused, savoury and tight. The palate has freshness to the midweight fruit. It’s a bit earthy with some structure. Savoury and tannic at present, this needs time. 91/100

Chryseia 2004 Douro
Sweet, rich, intense and ripe on the nose, this flirts with jamminess, showing chocolatey, blackberry fruit. The palate is soft and dense. Very nice ripe, almost new world style. 91/100

Niepoort Charme 2004 Douro
Smooth, elegant, perfumed, slightly chocolatey nose. The palate is soft, smooth and quite elegant. There’s some concentration here, but also great smoothness and elegance. One for the future: I reckon this will evolve really nicely. 94/100

Pintas 2004 Douro
Sweet, smooth, intense nose. Sweet but balanced, with chocolate, spice and earth notes behind the fruit. The palate is elegant, smooth and concentrated. It’s refined with bright fruit, good structure and nice acidity. 94/100

Poeira 2004 Douro
Great balance here. Nicely structured with pure fruit and earthy structure. Quite earthy and tight – I reckon this could be long-lived. Tasty stuff. 94/100

Quinta do Portal Auru 2003 Douro
Daft label: plastic made to look like gold. Smooth, dark, sweet nose is quite complex and rich. The palate shows a good concentration of savoury, spicy fruit, Nicely dense but smooth tannic structure. Lovely wine. 93/100

Quinta do Vale Raposa Vinha do Abandonado 2004 Douro
Vivid fresh spicy nose. Slightly funky, savoury palate is concentrated with dry, spicy red fruits. Odd, but not without savoury appeal. 89/100

Quinta do Vale Dona Maria 2004 Douro
Soft, smooth, elegant ripe red fruits. Lots of fruit here with some good structure underneath it. Modern styled. 92/100

Quinta do Vale Meão 2004 Douro
Dark, smooth, expressive savoury nose is quite bright and has lovely complexity. The palate is lush but structured at the same time. Ripe and expressive, this is a brilliant wine with real character. 95/100

Quinta de Monte d’Oiro Aurius 2003 Estremadura
A blend of Touriga Nacional, Syrah and Petit Verdot aged in new French oak. Lovely expressive red and black fruits nose. Quite savoury, spicy and earthy on the palate, with good structure. Great structure and acid under the fresh fruit. 91/100

José Maria de Fonseca FSF 2004 Terras do Sado
Supple, ripe and nicely structured. Good weight of red fruits here. Not overdone, and quite expressive. 88/100

see also: Portugal's leading wines from 2003; Leading Portuguese wines, 2006; Portuguese wines

Wines tasted 02/07
Find these wines with wine-searcher.com

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