Category Archives: Portugal

Top Wine Finds 2015

As the second trading year of Perfect Friday Wine draws to a close, it’s time to reflect on those top Perfect Friday Wine finds of 2015.

This year, to mention a few, plenty of new wines have made ‘the list’. From new countries, specifically, Portugal, Spain and Argentina, wines we thought should be red but also come in white, new regions, wine producers and grape varieties that we may not have heard of before.

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As well as the newcomers to ‘the list’, there are also a few that haven’t yet made it to the PFW portfolio, but never forget that I’m always on the look out of ways to bring you great wine and that I don’t just list any old plonk. Every now and then, a wine will jump off the tasting bench at me. Sometimes, I am able to get that wine then and there, other times, it takes a little more work, and a little bit more time. What is sure though is that PFW has only just scratched the surface. There are many more countries, grape varieties and wine producers out there waiting for us to discover and enjoy – wine can never get boring from where I’m sat.

So as I wish you all a very Happy New Year, here’s a little selection of those TOP WINE FINDS of 2015 that DID make it to ‘the list’ (order your case here)… as for those that didn’t (yet), watch this space and may 2016 be full of many more fabulous wines!

THE WHITES

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1) Clip Loureiro Vinho Verde 2014 £10.50
Added to ‘the list’ as a reaction to ‘Picpoul de Pinet-gate’, when, shock horror, the Villa Blanche Picpoul vintage ran out. Instead of replacing with a sub-standard Picpoul, I thought I’d give you something a bit different, like this Loureiro* from Minho in Portugal. A true star addition , which is deliciously light and minerally with an intriguingly refreshing spritz. Great with shellfish and here to stay.

2) Las Orcas, Decenio Rioja Blanco 2014 £10.75
I’ve always avoided still wines made from Macabeo* (one of the Cava grapes), but I couldn’t have been more wrong. It turns out that Macabeo is otherwise known as Viura*, which is often the variety found in white Rioja. This quickly became my best selling white of the summer due to the crunch of crisp green apple and zesty grip. It also comes from one of my favourite spots in the heart of Spain‘s Rioja, from 80 year old vineyards surrounding the tiny rocky outcrop of the village La Guardia. Yummy with pork and tapas.

3)Porvenir Laborum Torrontes 2012 £16
Ooh, this was a ‘will they or won’t they like it’ wine for me. I’ve been on the hunt for a decent Torrontes* for a while and wanted to show you a really excellent version, not one of the cheaper, more dilute versions, but a top drawer number – and I did it! Introduced at the October Tasting, it was a resounding success, loved by red wine drinking chaps and white wine loving lasses across the board! From the ‘best’ area in Argentina for Torrontes, the Cafayate Valley in Salta Province, the colour is almost green, the body is extrordinary and the concentrated floral, pineapple & spice flavours are balanced perfectly, resulting in a big bang effect in the mouth, perfect with scallops and creamy chicken dishes.

THE REDS

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1) Rafael Cambra El Bonne Homme 2013 £10.50
Subject to a bit of an argument at the March Norden Farm Spanish and Portugal Tasting  as to which was best; was it the Bonne Homme from Valencia or the Carchelo from Jumilla – both similar Monastrell/ Cab Sauv* blends from neighbouring regions in the South East of Spain. The big and in your face Valencian seems to have taken the edge (although I think there’s room for both, the Carchelo being that little more refined).  Deep cocoa, smoke, leather, buckets of blackberry, cherry and tannin, great with paella and v good value.

2) Alvaro Castro Dao Tinto 2011 £13.25
One of those mid-taste moments where I look up from my tasting notes into the eyes of the wine maker, spit and exclaim an exagerrated “O-M-G”!! My naive expectation of this one was a big, blockbusting red in the Douro style – nope, not a hint. This is a refined, elegant, cool and collected red – much like the very talented and lady wine maker Maria Castro.  Made from native Portuguese grapes Touriga-Nacional, Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo) and Alfrocheiro*, this wine is medium bodied, different and fabulous – fresh with savoury fruits and soft tannins – one for you Pinot Noir fans.

3) Emilio Valerio Laderas de Montejurra 2012 £12.50 
Ooh, splendid. This Garnacha, Merlot, Cab Sauv* blend from Rioja’s neighbour Navarra in Spain (think Pamplona country), earned me the testamonial “Thanks for offering us some really interesting wines, that nobody in the world of supermarkets or wine merchants appear to want to do….Well done you!” . One of Mr PFW’s favourites and jolly nice with lots of fruity blackberries and blackcurrant and eucalyptus. A great example of what they’re doing next door to those more famous regions. Great value, organically made, well balanced and fabulous with game.

…and without further ado, I sign out for 2015 – thank you for your continued support this year. Watch this space for new exciting wines in 2016!

Fancy trying a mixed case of the Top Wine Finds 2015 for yourself? All of the wines mentioned above will be available from 6th January, giving the wine trade a chance to awaken. Order your Top Wine Finds 2015 case here.

*Grape Variety

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Filed under Grape Varieties, Maidenhead, Portugal, South America, Spain

Dao wines of Alvaro Castro

Castro Wines

When I’m looking out for new wines for my customers, there are a few things I keep in mind;

1) Most importantly, do I like it and do I think you will too?

2) Does it taste as good or better than it costs?

3) Why might it be of interest to you?

It might be that it’s from a lesser known region, difficult to otherwise find or the sort of bottle that might otherwise be overlooked. It might be a brilliant example of an easily available type of wine or type of wine that I’ve fallen in love with on my travels, but the good ones are hidden amongst the mass of mediocrity. Sometimes the interest might be as simple as I get a little bit of a crush on the winemaker…find me someone who doesn’t love a good story about a great wine, told in the lilting accent by the person that made it!

In the case of the wines of Portugal’s Alvaro Castro (of Quinta da Pellada/ Quinta de Saes), all 3 of my requirements have been well and truly ticked. I will admit that I have never been to Portugal or that I had even heard of some of the indigenous grape varieties that are used to make the wines, especially the white grapes. I know very little about Portuguese cuisine and the little knowledge I have with regards to Portuguese wine, up until now, has been based upon the more famous fortified wines of the Douro, so these from Dao intrigued me greatly. What I did find out immediately however, was that these wines TASTED exceptionally delicious and I was blown away by the elegance of the wines. I was also quick and a little bit chuffed to learn that here I’ve found some wines made by one of Portugal’s most reknowned (and Dao’s best) wine maker Alvaro Castro and his daughter, Maria.

When I met winemaker Maria, who has also worked closely with Port’s famous Dirk van de Niepoort, she was presenting a whole array of Castro’s wines and her passion for each and every wine was infectious. For the red, I was expecting a very Douro typical big blockbusting wine, yet these from the Dao are not.  I found the red Alvaro Castro Dao Tinto 2011, a blend of Touriga-Nacional, Tinto Roriz and Alfrocheiro, to be much lighter in style than I was expecting; bright, fresh and fabulous with appetising blackberry fruitiness, finesse and savoury structure; more along the lines of a Pinot Noir than a Douro red. The white Alvaro Castro Dao Branco 2013 is blended from yet more indigenous varieties, Encruzado, Cerceal and Bical, which create a delightful fresh and floral wine with crisp citrus and mineral notes. Both of these wines (don’t get me on to the fabulous flagship Quinta da Pellada wines, which are just out of this world) have a certain exuberance , just like their makers. If you’ve not tried Portuguese or Dao wines before, or you like a lighter and elegant style of wine, I urge you to give these a go and what an incredible couple of bottles to start with!

The techy bit: Dao wines have suffered from a poor reputation in the past, but as Portuguese legislation has lifted and winemaking techniques and expertise are improved, the region is now producing some very fine wines, being given its DOC in 1990. As with Portuguese wines generally, grape varieties are indigenous, Encruzado being the major white grape (see it blended here with neighbouring region,Bairrada’s, grape variety Bical) and a mixture of port grape Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo), Jaen and Alfrocheiro dominate the red grapes. Dao, named after the river that runs through it, lies on a granite plateau and is protected from the damp of the Atlantic and the heat of the inland, by mountain ranges running to the west and south east.  The cooler climate (to the Douro), and winemaking skill of Maria and Alvaro make for fresher, finer and elegant wines than you’d traditionally expect of a Portuguese table wine.

Sources and links:
http://www.wineanorak.com/dao1_overview.htm Jamie Goode
World Atlas of Wine (7th Edition) Johnson and Robinson
http://quintadapellada.com/

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Flash Recommendation: Vega Douro Tinto 2009

What: Vega Douro Tinto 2009, Douro, Portugal
Where Out: The Two Brewers, Park Street, Windsor £15
Where In: The Wine Reserve £8.49
Who: Old bestest girl-chums
When: School night
Food match: Pork belly
Conclusion: Super value for a full bodied, savoury wine with dark cherry fruits.
Bonus point: It’s all in the location for my first flash recommendation; Chocolate labradors round our ankles and open fires in perhaps the cosiest pub in Berkshire.
Links: Wines of Portugal

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Filed under Eating/ Drinking In, Eating/ Drinking Out, Flash Recommendation, Portugal, Wine and Food Pairing