A Frenchman in Portugal: Francois Lurton's Douro wines

Francois Lurton (website here) makes wine in France, Chile, Argentina, Spain and now Portugal. He bought his first Douro property in 2006 (Quinta Beira), and has subsequently added a second (Quinta Malho).

I tried the 2008 releases, which include the two Quinta wines and two more commercial brands. I’ll be honest: I was a little disappointed with the two Quinta wines. These are not in the same league as some of the top Douro table wines now being released. It’s not that they are bad wines; just that they aren’t great – and these are not cheap, either (£25-£40).

François Lurton Quinta Beira Douro 2008 Douro, Portugal
A 10 hectare vineyard close to Pinhão, north facing. 15% alcohol. Gravelly, slightly tarry nose with fresh plum and blackberry fruit. Midweight palate with fresh, tarry, spicy red and black fruits and a bit of savoury grip, with some tannic structure. High alcohol yet lacks real concentration of flavour. 88/100

François Lurton Quinta do Malhô 2008 Douro, Portugal
From a south-facing vineyard in the Torto Valley. 15% alcohol. Ripe yet fresh berry and cherry fruits nose is taut and focused with some new oak spiciness. The palate is more red fruits than black – this certainly isn’t jammy or overripe – but it shows high alcohol, despite this, as well as some new oak. One to cellar for a few years? 89/100

François Lurton Barco Negro 2008 Douro
13% alcohol. Light and fruity with supple cherry fruit and a herby, earthy edge. Juicy and simple with some nice savouriness. A light style. 83/100

François Lurton Barco Negro Reserva 2008 Douro
13.5% alcohol. Supple, juicy cherry and  berry fruit with some roast coffee and spicy oak notes. Midweight and quite savoury with some Douro typicity. 85/100

Find these wines with wine-searcher.com

9 comments to A Frenchman in Portugal: Francois Lurton’s Douro wines

  • John Smith

    Jamie, you were “disappointed” with the wines, yet they still achieve amazing scores of 88/100 and 89/100!

    Why don’t you give them 50/100 or 55/100, if they were so bad?!

  • Steve

    He didn’t say they were bad wines, he said there are other better and better value wines from the Douro. And I’ll be following them instead.

  • Richard Morris

    I think it’s a fair point. Value doesn’t, as far as I can see, come into Jamie’s scoring, so if a great wine would be, say 95+, a ‘not bad’ wine shouldn’t get more than about 60. If value is a factor then the score should be lower. If you are going to give yourself 100 marks, then use them.

  • 88 and 89 aren’t amazing, if your callibration is Parker’s 100 pt score. I know it is a compressed range, but it’s now the industry standard.

  • Patrick

    perhaps we should all just subtract 80 from these scores…

  • Jamie, We are disappointed to hear that you are disappointed with our two Quinta wines and urge you to come and try them again at the Annual Portuguese Tasting at Lords on 2nd April. Other wine journalists have very much liked them and given them high marks including 93 points from Kim Marcus of the Wine Spectator for the 2008 Quinta Beira Douro for example and 90 pts from Mark Squires Parker’s Wine Advocate. Jancis gave the 08 Quinta do Malho 17,5 Points! So go on James give them another try. They really are worth it!

  • Nicolle – I appreciate you sending the wines to me, and for coming here to comment. But I did spend quite a bit of time assessing them – this wasn’t a quick sniff, slurp and spit. And my verdicts are considered – I went back the next day and had another look. It would have been much easier for me to give them glowing reviews.

    I think Kim got it wrong. And that Jancis was a little generous. I taste a lot of Douro wines, and if I were being asked for my advice, I’d say look at the style and do some benchmarking of these wines with the likes of Niepoort Redoma and Batuta, Quinta do Noval, Quinta da Romaneira, Passadouro Reserva, Poeira, Pintas and Quinta Nova. These are similarly priced, and I think far more successful.

    Of course, I completely understand if you should decide I just don’t have a very good palate, and that your wines are truly great already!

  • That is the wonderful thing about wine, the subjectivity of it! We all have our own individual tastes. No one is right or wrong. François Lurton has vineyards in four other countries; Chile (Lolol), Argentina (Upper Alta valley Mendoza), Spain (Rueda, Toro) France (Languedoc Roussillon). Do I dare suggest tasting wines from another region. We cannot end on this note…..! How about Chile? We are in the throws of going organic. Or Argentina, you have got to try our unique Corte friulano or refined Malbec from 1100m altitude!! Or rich verdejo from Rueda….

  • Martin

    I think I am missing something here. Firstly I think tasting notes are more informative and interseting then points, hence one of the reasons I visit Wine Anorak, rather then reading American mags. But doesn’t 17.5 from JR = 87 on your scale, and therefore less generous then your 89 by 2 points (or 0.3 on her scale)? Or is this not a correct extrapolation?

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