So I was in Lisbon. For one night only. The occasion? The ‘Young Winemakers’ tasting. Vadio, Conceito, Hobby, Clip and Carmelao are five young-ish Portuguese producers (with six winemakers in the group – Hobby has a couple) who have collaborated together to market their wines jointly. It’s a really good idea.
Joint marketing efforts like this mean that you can split the costs, remain in control of your promotion (you are not just relying on generic bodies who have to share the love around), and you can put on a tasting that has enough critical mass to make it a worthwhile diversion for a journalist (increasingly, single-producer lunches, dinners or tastings are hard to justify in terms of the outlay in time for busy journos).
The event was held at the wonderful Memmo hotel in the Alfama district of Lisbon. Its roof terraces enjoy superb views, with the bustling hill of the Alfama to the left and the river straight ahead. It’s the perfect place for a tasting, if the weather cooperates. It didn’t, quite, so the tasting had to drift indoors.
The wines are very good, and some are exceptional. I have already gone big on the wines of Vadio. Luis Patrao and Eduarda Dias (above) are doing a great job in a great yet underrated region (Bairrada), and I reckon the two 2011 reds, the Vadio and Grande Vadio, are both world class. The latter will likely outlive me, and reminds me a bit of a top Barolo in its structural intensity coupled with good acidity. But don’t discount the 2013 white, which I reckon is really impressive, and the delicious Espumante, which is a non-vintage blend with five different vintages in it.
Pedro Pinhao and Diogo Campilho of Hobby are making wines from the Tejo and Alentejo. I couldn’t get on with their Tejo branco, from Fernao Pires, but I really like the latest version of their characterful fortified orange wine, Abafado. It’s quite unique.
Joao Maria Cabral was on crazy form, showing his Camaleao wines. Look out for the 2013 Alvarinho. Real intensity, keen acidity, and lots of personality. The Sauvignons are also good, from the 2012 and 2013, but it’s the Alvarinho that steals the show.
I’ve been following the Conceito wines from Rita Marques for a few years now. Rita is quiet and understated; her wines do the talking. The Bastardo, pale in colour but beautifully perfumed, is a perennial favorite, and seems to express itself differently each vintage. The 2013, picked before the rains, is bright, vivid and supple, and offers a lot of pleasure. Here 2013 Contraste Branco and 2013 Conceito Branco are both beautiful, tightwound Douro whites that could do with some time to open out, but which are pretty serious. And look out for the 2009 LBV Port, which is just beautiful.
Clip is just a single wine: a pure expression of Loureiro from Pedro Barbosa’s 10 hectare family estate in Vinho Verde. 2013 had its challenges as a vintage, and he picked some grapes earlier than he might otherwise have. But the resulting wine shows a linearity and precision that I really like. It’s lovely, and it’s not expensive.