Posted by: jmbwineblog | April 14, 2010

ViniPortugal @ Lords Cricket Ground 2010


Well today was a tough day,

well at least if you can consider drinking some really nice wines all day a hard day’s life! Leisurely waking up, led to a short London tube ride from my flat in Notting Hill to St. John’s Wood to visit ViniPortugal (Wines of Portugal).

Now drinking through all of these wines s a tough job, considering the whites generally (at least when not well made) tend to have a lot of volatile acidity, and the Reds can be heavily tannic and lacking in refreshing acidity. However, with the increase in quality with Portuguese Wine Making, its hard not to find some really nice wines amongst the 100+ wines that were on offer in North London.

The usual suspects were all in attendance, such as Luis Pato, Quinta do Noval, and the like…

Some of Luis Pato's Wines and my glass...

However, the day was held together by some new wines that I hadn’t come into contact with before… some real delights.

The first stop on the what’s new tour were the dry wines of Quinta do Passadouro: from the Douro Valley where Port grapes are produced;

The Passadouro Branca 2008 being full and rich, but somewhat passable, the Reds were a different question altogether. The entry level Passa 2007 being light, fresh, fruity and simple but with a lovely earthy mineral streak. The Passadouro Tinto 2007 had a fresher, lighter feel to it, again with some lovely mineral notes, but for the same price, the Passa is probably a more enjoyable and serious drop! The big brother to both of these two wines, the Passadouro Reserva 2007 was a serious step up… deep, concentrated, but delicate and elegant at the same time; it could age for 10 years or more without any real trouble. A quite special wine.

The next surprise on the list was the next door neighbour Sonho Lusitano Vinhos Lda who produce the Pedra Basta. Both the 2007 and 2008 (Cask Sample) were on offer to try…

The 2007 was fresh, cherried and mineral, with lift and elegance. A wine with poise from cooler climate Alentejo! The 08 was deeper and more powerful, but it needs time… in fact they both need a serious amount of time to really open up and become truly enjoyable, but they both have some serious potential to age beautifully.

Another beautiful set of wines were to follow and all were lowly VR (Vinho Regionale or Vin de Pays when in France). The producer Quinta de Chocopalha have only been in business since 2000 and own all their own vines which average a 20-30 years old. All the wines, both red and white had a vitality and minerality that is indicative of their place, the particular highlights were the balanced and elegant but modern 2007 Quinta de Chocopalha; Cabernet Sauvignon and the deep, kernal, funky flavoured Chocopalha Reserva Red 2007. The same importers also deal with the Pintas winery which makes a good white in Guru White (despite it being expensive for what it is), and some passable Reds at the same time… Pintas’ 2007 Vintage Port, however, is a lovely drop of wine with lifted Cherry notes and a fresh elegance, it was well worth the price they are asking.

Most other producers were fairly inconsistent, with most producers having some great wines and some not so great, even from those producers who have already made names for themselves… From Quinta de Ventozelo, although many wines were expensive for what they were, the QV White was fresh, zippy and had some serious poise, and the Tinto 2007 and Reserva 2007 had serious structure and mineral content.

Quinta do Noval had produced some lovely dry Douro Reds to compliment their stupendous Port range… the Quinta do Noval 2007 was deep and rich, with brightness and vitality, but the VR Cedro do Noval was fresh, rich, tasty, elegant and quite simply gorgeous… being cheaper than its sibling it is certainly well worth the money.  Quinta do Bucheiro had a few older and younger vintages of their Ceiros Tinto Reserva, but whilst the 2007 and 2000 were either disjointed or lacking in stuffing, the 1999 was a small delight in their livelier, more poignant and developed state. Adega Luis Pato had produced some interesting little Vin Doux Naturel called Abafado Molecular in white, rose and red. Simple, fresh whites but with concentrated elegance like the Luis Pato 2009 and the Vinhas Velhas 2008, and some structured, Reds like the Vinhas Velhas 2007. Unfortunately the bottle of 2003 Vinha Barrosa, although earthy, graceful and mature, it doesn’t feel like it will age any further, which is a shame because these wines are very tasty.

The real joy of this trade tasting was finding a few really talented and quality winemakers who have a big big future…

Tiago Alves de Souza and his wines...

Tiago Alves de Souza, the winemaker for the winery and son of Domingos Alves de Souza, makes some spectacular wines at all levels from the good value to the expensive. All are knockouts, with the whites being rich and tropical, whilst maintaining a freshness and minerality, which spreads into the splendid White Port Caldas. The Reds with serious structure and vitality, but also serious minerality and expression of terroir are also great from top to bottom, with the flagship Abandonado and Vinha de Lordelo (both gorgeous structured, concentrated, but minerally and elegant single vineyard wines, both very different in their own ways) being brilliant expressions of terroir, which with specifics of different soils will make you want to come back to these wines vintage after vintage… Tiago is a special, talented winemaker and he needs to have a beady eye kept on him!!!! His Port Wines are pretty special with the 10 Year Old Tawny being a harp back to the traditional oxiditive style as oppose to the delude of modern incarnations one finds on the shelves these days.

Quinta do Feital Vinho Verde’s are gorgeous, with the Auratus being a traditional style designed for easy drinking, whilst the serious, structured and ageworthy Dorado is simply a revelation, and the Quinta de Tourais Miura and Touronio are both powerful, rich, deep, minerally wines that will certainly age for at least 5 to 10 years!

Another find, on a par with Tiago Alves de Souza, are the simply stunning and scintillating white wines of Quinta da Raza!

The Wines of Quinta da Raza

Calling these wines minerally is an understatement, and make calling any other wine at this event minerally, a travesty. Wonderful poise and elegance, these Vinho Verde’s are simply something else. The VR Minho Dom Diogo Alvarinho is the star of the show, reminding one of an elegant, traditional White Burgundy but without the weight of Chardonnay and a touch more acid… a real revelation! Not that the other wines pale in comparison… the Dom Diogo Azal and Dom Diogo Arinto have more fruit, but maintain their poise, whilst the two blends the Quinta da Raza and Raza have a great balance between fruit and mineral character. These are certainly wines to keep a look out for! Special white wines, but unfortunately they do not have any global representation and their production is small!

All in all an enjoyable afternoon. Of course, there were many disappointments but the good (listed above more than made up for the bad tasted). If the tasting went on until tomorrow, I’m sure I could have unearthed more, but what is certainly clear, is that the Portuguese can do variety better than anyone… who can argue with that when 200+ of the worlds 300+ varieties are all native to Portugal. A real eye opener… here’s to next year!


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