Portugal Wine Frontier: A case from the Alentejo
For the full story on Alentejo wines, click here.
93 Cartuxa 2005 Pêra-Manca (Alentejo); $NA. The white and red Pêra-Manca are cult wines in Portugal, only released in the best years. The white has partial barrel fermentation, giving great richness and depth of flavor, as well as smooth toastiness. With its high proportion of Antâo Vaz, it is very white Burgundy in its richness, in its sense of mineral terroir and delicious acidity. Imported by Tri-vin. Editors’ Choice.
90 Herdade do Esporão 2006 Private Selection Reserva (Alentejo); $NA. Very New World in its ripe, tropical fruit flavors, its rounded toasty element and its impressive concentration. Yet the elegance also remains, finishing with spice and light acidity, adding shape to this rich wine. Imported by Aidil Wines and Liquor. Editors’ Choice.
87 DFJ Vinhos 2006 Monte Alentejano (Alentejano); $NA. With fresh green apple aromas and some ripe, mango fruit flavors, this is well rounded, showing some acidity, but more of open, fresh fruits. This is a wine that will be perfect to drink over the next few months. Imported by Saraiva Enterprises.
93 Herdade da Malhadinha Nova 2005 Alentejano; $90. Malhadinha Nova continues on its impressive way. This 2005 is big and powerful, yes, but it also has complexity, even some elegance in a muscular way. There are bitter chocolate flavors, black fruits, layered with wood, needing aging. Great wine. Imported by Quintessential. Cellar Selection.
91 J Portugal Ramos 2003 Quinta da Viçosa (Alentejano); $NA. From the hot 2003 vintage, this has big, superripe fruit, but manages to keep everything in check with vibrant fruit and elegance. The black fruits, powered and concentrated, also have acidity and great perfumes from the Touriga Nacional. Imported by Winebow.
90 Bacalhôa Wines of Portugal 2003 Tinto da Anfora Grande Escolha (Alentejano); $29. A delicious, perfumed wine, with intense, ripe, juicy blueberry flavors. It’s dark, dense and packed with richness and opulence. Underneath, though, there are tannins, and the wine should age well over five years. “Grande Escolha” indicates a limited release and special selection. Imported by Admiral Wine Imports.
90 Caves Aliança 2004 Quinta da Terrugem (Alentejo); $23. From Aliança’s Alentejo Terrugem vineyard, this dense, tannin-packed wine has powerful flavors of dark fruits, a very dry backbone and layer upon layer of tarry, smoky tastes. Initially it overwhelms with its richness, but that softens and the acidity gives the wine a lifted vibrancy. Imported by Tri-vin.
90 Cortes de Cima 2004 Alentejano; $NA. A finely balanced wine that shows structure as well as the rich fruits. It has ripe red fruits, cherries, spice and toast. But they all hang well together, the fruit held in check by the structure of the wine. This would be worth aging for 2 years or more. Imported by Tri-vin. Editors’ Choice.
90 Herdade do Esporão 2004 Herdade Reserva (Alentejo); $NA. Smooth and elegant, this is an impressive wine with its powered black fruits, concentrated, dark, brooding tannins and spice. The wood element is held in check with acidity, plum skin textures and a dry core. Imported by Aidil.
90 Quinta do Carmo 2004 Reserva (Alentejano); $NA. The most satisfying of recent offerings from this Lafite-managed estate. It is certainly tough and young, but with its great blackberry fruits and ripe plum flavors, it also shows elegant tannins and balanced acidity. Excellent aging potential. Imported by Pasternak.
89 Herdade de São Miguel 2005 Reserva Alentejano; $NA. From a winery that only started operations in 2001, one of the new wave in the Alentejo. This Reserva is in a modern, smooth style, big and powerful. But there’s one
welcome brake on all this smooth fruit, and that is a dash of Cabernet Sauvignon which gives just the right amount of tannins and interestingly fresh acidity. Imported by RC Importers & Wholesalers.
89 Sogrape 2004 Callabriga (Alentejo); $NA. A rich, robust blend of Aragonês and Alicante Bouschet, this wine offers red fruits, spice and vanilla from wood aging. It is certainly rich, but there is elegance there as well, the exuberant fruit tempered by acidity and some intensely firm tannins. Age for 4-5 years. Imported by Evaton Inc.