Some highlights from Simplesmente Vinho, an authentic wine festival held in Porto

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Some highlights from Simplesmente Vinho, an authentic wine festival held in Porto

One of my favourite dates in the calendar is a weekend in late February. In 2016, 2018 and now 2019 (last week) I attended Simplesmente Vinho, which takes place in Porto at this time. It’s  an festival focusing on the alternative wine scene: authentic, naturali-ish wines, most of which are Portuguese, but the fair also takes in guest wineries from northwest Spain and occasionally further afield. Here are some earlier reports (2016 and 2018), but this event has also led to many producer profiles on this site.

It’s also lovely to spend time in Porto. I was there last week for Simplesmente, and these are some of my highlights.

Entre Os Rios Vuples Vulpes 2017 Vina de Terra Barbanza e Ima, Spain
This is a varietal Raposo, which translates as fox, and it’s also known as Albarin. This is made from old vines on sandy soils, and a third of the grapes used were purchased (these are very old and ungrafted), and two thirds are younger vines (15 years old). This is fermented and aged in stainless steel and does malolactic fermentation. Complex and mineral with nice taut spicy characters, some floral notes and a precise, saline finish. Lovely wine. 94/100

Niepoort Quinta de Baixo ‘B’ Branco 2013 Bairrada, Portugal
As yet this hasn’t been released, but it is Dirk’s Bairrada masterpiece, weighing in at just 10% alcohol, but with intensity and power. A Chablis-like cask that was bottled separately, this is fine, vital, lean and mineral with a saline streak to the lemony fruit and hints of nuts and wax. Profound. 96/100

Niepoort Nat Cool Primata 2017 Douro, Portugal
One of the NatCool series, bottled in a litre bottle and sold at an affordable price. This is a joyful, floral expression of Touriga Nacional from 600 m altitude, whole bunch fermented then pressed to stainless steel taking the heavy lees. Incredibly perfumed, this is floral and meaty on the nose with beautiful fruit and a tight, expressive, fine personality with good acidity. 93/100

Puro Rofe Tilama 2018 Lanzarote, Spain
From 1730 there were six years of volcanic eruptions in Lanzarote, leaving a layer of volcanic ash. In order to reach the fertile soil, farmers would have to make holes through this ash layer, and that’s where the vines were planted. This is 100% Malvasia, and it is salty and mineral with lovely spiciness. Very linear with real precision and a nice taut mouthfeel. A proper wine. 94/100

Ihla de Pico Terrantez de Pico 2017 Açores, Portugal
Just 860 bottles of this produced. It’s a deep yellow colour, and is really concentrated and intense, with wax, pith and herb notes. Nice tangerine and melon fruit, with some salinity. Beautiful and multidimensional. 93/100

Vadio Rexarte 2015 Bairrada, Portugal
This wine is made from a small parcel of vines planted on the transition from sand to limestone on a hill. This is Vadio’s first single parcel release: more are planned as the quality of certain parcels becomes evident. Great concentration here: this has lots of weight and structure with black cherries, plums and blackberries. Lots of fruit intensity but also good balance and potential for development. 95/100

Barbeito Verdelho 2017 Madeira, Portugal
This is Barbeito’s first attempt at a table wine, and it’s really good. Fresh and expressive with a slight tropical hint to the stony yet fleshy citrus fruit. Very fine with a bit of electric energy, and supple, steely and salty on the finish. Has a bit of seriousness as well as nice fresh fruit. 93/100

Sacrabeira 2016 Rias Baixas, Spain
This comes from three vineyards in the Salnes area, and is fermented and matured in concrete tanks, where it stays on its lees for a year. This is waxy, nutty and a bit salty with nice concentration and some apricot and tangerine richness. Stony, vivid and expressive, this is really good. 93/100

Xisto Indie 2017 Douro, Portugal
Luis Seabra’s Indie is from an 80 year old vineyard in Alijo. It’s fermented in lagar and then spends 2 years in 500 litre barrels. Such elegance here, with a lovely mouthfeel and sweet, sappy, supple red fruits and a long, expanding mineral finish. Well structured with good acidity. 95/100

Vale de Capucha Arinto Estagio Longo 2015 Lisboa, Portugal
From limestone soils, this Arinto was basket pressed to barrel with no racking or lees stirring and then bottled after 30 months when the extreme acidity had integrated a bit better. It has some matchstick reduction adding interest, and a strongly acidic palate with lovely intensity to the citrus fruits. A really complex wine with lovely reduction. 95/100

Azores Wine Company Vinha Centenária do Pico 2016 Açores, Portugal
Mainly Arinto de Açores with some Verdelho. Hand picked, sorted and whole bunch pressed. Complex and lively with lots of flavour: herbs, fine spiciness, a nice saline twist. There’s some subtle nuttiness and a hint of cabbage, and brilliant energy. A lovely wine. 94/100

Find these wines with wine-searcher.com

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