Quinta do Montalto is an organic producer in the Lisboa region of Portugal. The family domain consists of 15.5 hectares of vines, and the current proprietor is fifth generation André Valério (pictured above). He’s taking quite an experimental approach, and is now working with amphorae (know locally as Talhas).
He tells me that some people are painting the insides of their amphorae with epoxy resin, which he regards as absurd because it makes them largely inert containers. Instead, his 250 litre amphorae, made by a local producer, are coated with natural resins. He takes the amphorae, heats the inside of them over a flame, and then puts the resin inside. As it melts, he rolls the amphorae.
‘Everyone says to me you can’t do this and it will make the wine bitter,’ he says. ‘I want to prove it is possible.’ The result is that the inside of the amphora is covered with a natural resin glaze. The resin is extracted from pine trees in Spain.
Quinta do Montalto Fernão Pires Talha 2017 Lisboa, Portugal
Made in amphora, fermented on skins and aged for 3 months. Beautifully pure and textured with fresh nuttiness and fine spices. Has tangerine and a hint of marmalade, and lovely pure citrus fruits. Juicy, linear and expressive with a salty tang. Lovely texture and not grippy or resiny at all. 93/100
Quinta do Montalto Touriga Nacional Talha 2017 Lisboa, Portugal
This has 3 months on skins and is fermented in 250 litre amphorae. Lovely texture here: generous and pure with smooth tannins. Nice fine grained structure and good acidity. Modern, clean sweet berry fruits with a compact, focused personality. 92/100
The second interesting wines is a blend of 80% white and 20% red, based on a 12th century recipe. The wines at the time, apparently, were made by blending the red and skins to the white. The white is fermented in barrel that has some space left in it, and when the red has neared the end of its fermentation, it’s added to the white, skins and all, for a final fermentation together. When Portugal entered the EU it became illegal to make wine this way. In 2015 Montaldo was part of an association to form rules and create a new subregion for this blending of red and white.
Medieval de Ourém 2017 Encostas d’Aire DOC, Portugal
A blend of 80% Fernão Pires and 20% Trincadeira. This is a bright red colour like a very deep rosé, crossing over to a red wine. It’s supple and juicy with lovely red cherry and raspberry fruit, as well as some grip but also bright citrus fruit. Crunchy and detailed with a juiciness. 89/100
Quinta do Montalto Cepa Pura Baga 2016 Lisboa, Portugal
Distinctivem grippy and spicy with nice weight. Has firm, slightly spicy tannins. Vivid and focused with bright cherries, raspberries and some herbs. 90/100
Quinta do Montalto Cepa Pura Late Harvest 2015 Lisboa, Portugal
Fernão Pires, dehydrated on the vine, with no botrytis. Vivid and intense with sweet straw and vanilla notes as well as bold peach and melon fruit. Smooth and rich. 91/100
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