Wine column for week of June 10

Portugal has about 250 grape varieties, many of them unique to the country, and they represent a large number compared with most other wine-making nations because of the country’s relatively small population.
Portuguese winemakers specialise in blended wines, and Portugal is the world’s eleventh largest producer and tenth largest exporter, impressive achievements given the country has only about 10.5 million people.
The Tartessians introduced winemaking to Portugal about 2000 BC. The Phoenicians took over from the Tartessians about 1000 BC. Portugal exported wine to the Roman Empire from about 200 BC and the wine trade boomed with the spread of Christianity 400 years later, because the latter used wine in their religious ceremonies.
A naming structure — what the French call an appellation controllee or controlled naming system — was established in the Douro region in northern Portugal almost 200 years before the French set up their system in the 1950 to ensure quality.
Portugal’s success has come about because winemakers matched grapes to microclimates with appropriate and quality soils and terroir, and proper application of new technologies.
Wine in Portugal has improved considerably in the past 30 years, especially since Portugal joined the European Community in 1986. The biggest advances have been in table wines made from grapes traditionally used to make ports.
This has mostly occurred because of limits to port production, which meant grapes were left over and available to winemakers to experiment with.
The 2009 Po de Poeira red is a blend of a range of grapes. The bottle does not make clear how many, but probably at least four. Think of it as being similar to a “field blend” where the winemaker assembles a group of grape varieties that seem to work together.
The Po de Poeira red is almost black in colour, with intense flavours of both red and black fruits, plus aromas of violet and bergamot (the latter is what give Earl Grey tea its smell). The aroma of bergamot suggests a high proportion of touriga nacional grapes in the blend. The grape is pronounced “too-ree-gah nass-yon-nal).
The tannins are silky and the acidity sings in the glass, giving the wine great balance. It, too, is refreshing and relevant for summer in Asia, provided the wine is chilled before serving.
The 2010 Po de Poeira white, also from the Douro region in the north-east, is also made from 80 per cent alvarinho with the balance gouveio. It is aged for six months in 50 per cent new oak barrels.
It dances lightly on the palate but the flavours are pungent enough to impart a taste of mandarin orange and acid zing in the mouth. I loved the sense of minerality, which gave a study sense of structure. Another excellent wine that is most appropriate for summer.
Jorge Moreira, who made the Po de Poeira, is also the winemaker at Quinta de la Rosa, one of the country’s best port producers. Moreira was Portugal’s winemaker of the year in 2011. He is willing to innovate and the Po de Poeira range offer excellent value for money combined with high quality.
The 2005 Julian Reynolds reserva has developed secondary characteristics and the tannins have softened to the point where the wine could be matched with a range of white meat dishes, or lighter meats such as lamb. It could be described as brooding, a vinous version of Heathcliff. It is a delightful combination of plums, raisins, brambles and spice. Worthy of a further half decade of ageing.
This wine is a blend of alicante bouschet, trincadeira and syrah. Alicante bouschet is a teinturier, a French term for a grape with red flesh and deep colour blended with light red wine to give the latter deeper colour.
The trincadeira (pronounced treen-ka-day-rah) balances the lack of acidity in the other grapes and provides aromas of blackberries and spices. The syrah, another name for shiraz, provides body plus black fruit tastes and pepper aromas.
The alvarinho grape has developed a great reputation because of the quality of the white wines made with it from the Vinho Verde region in north-west of the country. This white grape has a floral and fruity profile with hints of honeysuckle, peach, grapefruit and apple. Alvarinho is known as albariño in neighbouring north-west Spain.
The 2011 Quinta da Lixia Pouco Commum is an example of what modern winemakers can create with this grape in areas other than the Vinho Verdhe region. It has fine acidity, and is well balanced with aromas of tropical fruit and lemon-honey. Delicious at any time, but especially relevant in summer in the Asian region.
Words: 723

Categories: Not home, wine

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