Wines of the year (3) Portuguese highlights

niepoort bairrada

I visited Portugal four times last year, and that probably wasn’t enough. It’s such a great country, and the wine scene has never been better. I will be back in 2017 for sure. These are some of the absolute highlights from last year.

Niepoort Bical Maria Gomes Vinhas Velhas Branco 2013 Bairrada, Portugal
Had several times, with scores ranging from 94-97. I think the higher score is correct. I even bought this twice in restaurants! This is made in 1000 litre fuders from the Mosel, and spends 3o months without sulfur. Fine, stony and mineral: you can taste the chalky soil influence here. This is a blend of a few vineyards, and it’s lemony, pure and very fresh. So fine. Practically perfect on today’s showing. 97/100

Quinta do Vale Meão Monte Meão Touriga Nacional Granito 2013 Douro, Portugal
The aromatics of the Touriga Nacional from the granit soils on the property didn’t fit the estate wine, so they decided to bottle this plot separately in 2009. It’s beautifully aromatic, pure and vibrant with violet, spice, pepper and olives. So enticing and fresh on the palate with bright, juicy fruit, spice and good tannins. Vibrant, pepper and tannic with pretty black cherry fruit. 95/100

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Quinta do Vale Meão 2014 Douro, Portugal
This wine was picked a bit earlier than normal, and some stems were used in the Touriga portion. And there was a bit less new oak. The results are great. Nice depth with sweetly concentrated blackcurrant and blackberry fruit, as well as some black cherry. Ripe with nice structure and some seductive richness, but also freshness and purity. Good structure with fine tannins. This will be sensational in 15 years’ time. 96/100

Quinta Maria Izabel Vinhas Velhas 2014 Douro, Portugal
From a revitalised estate in the Douro that’s now making sensational wines, with a bit of help from Dirk Niepoort. 70% whole bunch, aged in 3000 litre barrels. Smooth with notes of chocolate, spice, fine herbs and black cherry fruit on the nose. Rich, concentrated, focused and fine showing inky, salty, savoury fruit. Structured with good acidity. This is fantastic, showing power and focus, still primary and tannic, but with great potential. 96/100

Niepoort Turris 2013 Douro, Portugal
The first edition was 2012. ‘This is the top of the top,’ says Carlos Raposa, Niepoort’s winemaker. ‘It comes from the oldest vineyard we know in the Douro that’s 130 years old.’ Some of this wine becomes Turris and the rest is going to Batuta. It’s on the right side of the river. Vinified Batuta style in a foudre of 1000 litres. Old foudres from the Mosel. Amazingly fresh and elegant with lovely pure black cherry fruit with some vital, iron, blood and mineral notes. This has such amazing elegance and presence with lovely sanguine character. The acidity is well integrated and there’s a lovely compactness, purity and floral quality to the red fruits. There’s a real spicy, tamed-wild character. Thrilling. 97/100

António Madeira Vinho de Serra 2013 Dão, Portugal
A single vineyard in the Serra d’Estrela foothills. Very fine and expressive with a spicy, savoury, stony edge to the elegant red and black cherry fruit. Lots of acidity, with good acidity. Fresh, focused and elegant with nice finesse and potential for development. Look out also for the Centenaria wine from the same producer, which is stunning. 95/100

Blandy’s 30 Years Bual NV Madeira, Portugal
Current release, and pretty superb. The nose is multifaceted, aromatic and intense. Sweet raisin and treacle aromas merge with savoury nutty, leathery, earthy, woody hints. Concentrated yet light on its feet, this wine has a complex palate of raisin, honey, old casks, treacle, dates and marmalade. Such elegance and complexity. Thought-provoking. 96/100

Find these wines with wine-searcher.com

2 comments to Wines of the year (3) Portuguese highlights

  • Bob Parsons Alberta

    Quinta do Vale pricing has gotten right out of hand here in Alberta, how about everywhere else.

  • Paul Metman

    Quinta do Vale Meao is a great wine, for sure, but indeed pricing is a problem also here in Europe: in Germany price was about €50/bottle, now €68/bottle, in Portugal €55-60, now €78/bottle. Don’t know whether the winery raised their prices that much or “speculation” of the retailers!

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