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International Wine Trade Fair, Olympia, May 16-18 2000Portuguese wines
Those of you familiar with my preferences will know that I have a weak spot for Portuguese wines. Laymont and Shaw were showing the four single vineyard Bairrada wines from Luis Pato. The 1998 Vinha Pan deep, complex and tannic, and the Vinha Barrosa 1998 is in a similar vein, with dense, chewy fruit from the Baga grape. The Barrio 1998 is brighter, with some meaty notes, and the young vines 1998 Quinta do Minho is another deep, complex wine showing some brighter fruit notes too. All very good.
They also showed the 1997 and 1998 Vintages of Quinta do Cotto, Douro. Both are concentrated, complex wines, with dense, chewy, herby fruit. Of the two, the 1997 is currently more open on the nose, and takes my vote. From the same producer comes the 1998 Paço de Teixeró Vinho Verde, which unusually for this region sees some Portuguese oak and undergoes malolactic fermentation. It's still bright and acidic, but has a full, rich texture. One to look out for.
Raymond Reynolds import probably the most exciting range of Portuguese wines into the UK at present. Dirk Niepoort's (Douro) wines are a stunning bunch. The Redoma Branco Reserva 1997 is a rich-textured treat made from the Rabigato grape. The 1996 Redoma Tinto is concentrated and nicely balanced -- not as wild as the 1994 I've previously enjoyed. The Passadouro Vinho Tinto 1995 is an old-vine, foot-trodden monster of a wine, awash with firm tannins and exciting, complex flavours. A must have. From Barirada, the Casa de Saima Tinto 1997 and 1998 are both superb, as is the slightly lighter Garrafeira 1997. Beautiful, old fashioned gems from old Baga vines.
Dão is making some stunning wine these days. The Quinta Fonte do Ouro 1997 sees 50% new Allier oak, and it is intense stuff in a new-wave style. The Quinta dos Roques 1997 sees 100% new Limousin oak, and is a cracker, deep and purple black, highly seductive. The 1997 Reserva Dos Roques is a single vineyard wine with a herby/medicinal edge to the fruit. If anything it is a bit softer; very good in a different style. Not to be missed, also, are the interesting whites from Quinta da Murta (Bucelas), Casa de Saima (Bairrada), and Cartuxa (Evora, Alentejo).
From Australia, I was impressed by a number of the exhibitors. From the Southcorp camp, Yarra-based Coldstream Hills have a strong line up: I liked the 1996 Briarston, with its soft leafy fruit, and the Reserve Cabernet, which packs quite a punch. Tim Adams (Clare Valley) is making some sensationally good wines at fair prices. The Riesling was the pick of the whites, while all the reds are good, from the funky cinnamon-laced Fergus (mainly Grenache) to the huge, rich Shiraz by Sorby (half Barossa, half Clare, made with his brother Simon). Garry Crittenden of Dromana estate (Mornington Peninsula) was showing his impressive range, including the 'i' range of Italian varietals he makes from King Valley-grown fruit. From yet another region, the Western Australia flag was been flown by Cape Mentelle (superb Semillon/Sauvignon and Chardonnay; soft and seductive red wines) and Plantagenet (from Mount Barker; lovely Shiraz and Cabernet). Finally from Aus, don't miss the stunning wines that Rosemount is making in the Mudgee region of NSW. The 1998 Cabernet and Shiraz from the Hill of Gold vineyard is sensational for the price (£10), with rich, soft, concentrated fruit with an earthy tinge. Even better is the 1997 Mountain blue, a stunning mint, menthol and eucalyptus-laced blend of Shiraz and Cabernet, with mind-boggling concentration.
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