Archive for the ‘Wine’ Category
Olly Smith’s list of 50 Great Portuguese Wines 2013 has been released and is full of great value wines from Portugal.
The 50 Great Portuguese Wines is a Wines of Portugal initiative that happens every year in the UK and the US. For this year’s UK event, Olly Smith, a well known TV and wine personality, was selected to choose his list of 50 Great Portuguese Wines. Olly has decided to focus on finding the best value wines between £7 – £30.
Olly Smith was already the 9th expert to be selected for this initiative which has become an annual highlight for Portuguese wine and has helped raise awareness for the exciting diversity of what is being done in Portugal.
I’m a supporter of this initiative as I find that it works very well as a point of entry in the fantastic world of Portuguese wine for many wine lovers. Olly is a specially interesting selection for his ability to be consumer-focused and for his lively no-string-attached attitude towards wine.
Lots of good value options to choose from the 19 white wines, 27 red wines and 4 fortified wines. Here’s Olly Smith’s List of 50 Great Portuguese Wines 2013:
|1.||Vales de Ambrães – Avesso 2012||Vinho Verde||Where to buy|
|2.||Casa da Senra 2012||Vinho Verde||Where to buy|
|3.||Soalheiro 2012||Vinho Verde||Where to buy|
|4.||Alvarinho Solar de Serrade 2012||Vinho Verde||Where to buy|
|5.||FP 2012||Bairrada||Where to buy|
|6.||Quinta da Raza Arinto 2012||Vinho Verde||Where to buy|
|7.||Montes Ermos Reserva 2011||Douro||Where to buy|
|8.||Beyra Quartz 2011||Beira Interior||Where to buy|
|9.||Redoma 2011||Douro||Where to buy|
|10.||Quinta de la Rosa 2011||Douro||Where to buy|
|11.||Pato Frio Antão Vaz 2011||Alentejo||Where to buy|
|12.||Vinhas do Lasso 2010||Lisboa||Where to buy|
|13.||Dona Ermelinda 2011||Península de Setubal||Where to buy|
|14.||Valle Pradinhos 2011||Tras-os-Montes||Where to buy|
|15.||Muros de Melgaço 2011||Vinho Verdes||Where to buy|
|16.||Quinta de Saes Encruzado 2011||Dão||Where to buy|
|17.||Quinta dos Roques Encruzado 2011||Dão||Where to buy|
|18.||Esporão Reserva 2011||Alentejo||Where to buy|
|19.||Arenae 2010||Lisboa||Where to buy|
|20.||Marquês de Borba 2011||Alentejo||Where to buy|
|21.||Almeida Garrett 2010||Beira Interior||Where to buy|
|22.||Sexy 2011||Alentejo||Where to buy|
|23.||Zéfyro 2009||Alentejo||Where to buy|
|24.||Altano Quinta do Ataíde Reserva 2009||Douro||Where to buy|
|25.||PAPE 2010||Dão||Where to buy|
|26.||Claudia’s 2009||Douro||Where to buy|
|27.||Manoella Douro 2010||Douro||Where to buy|
|28.||Quinta Nova – Colheita 2010||Douro||Where to buy|
|29.||F’OZ 2011||Alentejo||Where to buy|
|30.||Palpite 2010||Alentejo||Where to buy|
|31.||Poeira 2010||Douro||Where to buy|
|32.||Vertente 2009||Douro||Where to buy|
|33.||Trincadeira Vinhas Velhas 2009||Tejo||Where to buy|
|34.||Tinto da Ânfora 2010||Alentejo||Where to buy|
|35.||Duas Pedras 2011||Alentejo||Where to buy|
|36.||Crasto Superior 2010||Douro||Where to buy|
|37.||Quinta de Foz de Arouce 2009||Beiras||Where to buy|
|38.||Quinta dos Quatro Ventos 2009||Douro||Where to buy|
|39.||Aliança Bairrada Reserva 2011||Bairrada||Where to buy|
|40.||Quinta dos Roques 2010||Dão||Where to buy|
|41.||Esporão Reserva 2010||Alentejo||Where to buy|
|42.||Cedro do Noval 2009||Douro||Where to buy|
|43.||Julia Kemper Touriga Nacional 2009||Dão||Where to buy|
|44.||CH by Chocapalha 2009||Lisboa||Where to buy|
|45.||Quinta de la Rosa Reserve 2010||Douro||Where to buy|
|46.||Quinta do Sagrado Reserva 2007||Douro||Where to buy|
|Fortified (Port Madeira and Moscatel)|
|47||Verdelho 15 Years Old||Madeira||Where to buy|
|48||Moscatel de Favaios Colheita 1980||Douro||Where to buy|
|49||Família Horacio Simões Bastardo 2009||Península Setúbal||Where to buy|
|50||Dow’s Quinta do Bomfim Vintage Port||Douro||Where to buy|
More information about each wine and a list of places where to buy them (around the world) is available by clicking on each wine.
Finally, watch Olly selecting and explaining what he thinks about Portuguese Wine during his 50 Great Portuguese Wines tasting and selection:
The first ever Umbria is for #winelovers event happened last week in Umbria in the green heart of Italy. With an exciting programme planned for the week this was a great opportunity to discover the region’s wines and their connection to the local food culture.
To make it even more interesting the #winelover group organized a Food & Wine Pairing Competition to better understand the richness of Umbria’s food and wine pairing. Here’s the competition menu with the different Italian dishes and the wines that better worked for each of them:
1. Frittatina Morbida al Tartufo della Valnerina
We started with a Frittatina Morbida al Tartufo della Valnerina, an egg-based dish, similar to an omelette or quiche, enriched with black truffles from the Valnerina valley in Umbria. A rich combination of flavors where the black truffle definitely stood out.
Best wines for this dish:
- FiorFiore 2010 Roccafiore (White) - 100% Grechetto
- Lamborghini (La Firorita) Trescone Umbria 2009 (Red) - Sangiovese, Merlot, Ciliegiolo
2. Risotto Allo Zafferano di Cascia e Guanciale Croccante
As a first course the Chef planned a Risotto with saffron and crisp Italian bacon. The crispy bacon added a different dimension to this simple dish and made it extra enjoyable. I could spend a whole day eating this crispy bacon.
Best wines for this dish:
- Colli Perugini Chiorri Rosato 2011 (Red) - Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon
- Adanti Arquata Montefalco Riserva 2008 (Red) - Sangiovese, Sagrantino, Barbera, Merlot, Cabernet
- Montefalco Rosso Scacciadiavoli 2009 (Red) - Sangiovese, Sagrantino, Merlot
3. Porchetta di Maialino Aromatica Bardata al Prosciutto
The main course was the highlight of the food and wine competition and one of the best foods I’ve had in Italy. A fabulous savoury, fatty and juicy boneless piglet roast covered with slices of bacon. Simply outstanding.
Best wines for this dish:
- Re del Sole LS08 Leonucci (Red) – Sagrantino
- Marchesi Antinori Cervaro della Sala Antinori 2011 (White) - Chardonnay, Grechetto
- La Palazzola Vin Santo Stefano Grilli 2005 (Sweet)
4. Crostata di Mele e Crema Cotta and Cheesecake
Finally dessert time. An Apple Custard Pie and a Ricotta, Chocolate, Raisins and Rhum Cake. A happy overdose of sugar created specifically to match the Umbrian Vin Santo (a style of italian sweet wine).
Best wine for the Crostata di Mele e Crema Cotta:
- Poggio Forno Cantina Neri 2011 - (Sweet) Grechetto, Sauvignon
Best wines for the Torta di Ricotta, Cioccolato, Uvetta e Rhum
- Sperello VinSanto Colli del Trasimeno Berioli 2011 (Sweet) - Trebbiano, Malvasia
- Grappa di Sagrantino Romanelli (Spirit)
Fabien Lainé (a French Sommelier working in Norway) was in charge of coordinating the food and wine competition. With the help of Luciana Braz and other #winelovers they’ve pre-selected 70 wines (from a pool of around 200), organized the tasters in teams and collected the competition results. A great job, explained in more detail in Fabien’s blog.
Umbrian Chef, Matteo Barbarossa was in charge of creating four different dishes for the competition. With this mission, Matteo created a dynamic menu of local and delicious Umbrian food to match the region’s diverse array of wines.
Overall this a fantastic wine and food discovery experience in the heart of Italy. Umbria is definitely a fantastic food and wine destination and I can’t wait to go back and discover more.
In an event that is known as the Oscars of Wine in Portugal, Revista dos Vinhos (one of Portugal’s most read wine magazines) has announced their 2012 List of Best Portuguese Wines.
This is a solid list of great Portuguese wines including some out-of-this-world bottles (like the Barca Velha 2004). The 30 wines on the list got an Award of Excellence for having achieved the very best ratings in all of the wine tastings organized by the wine magazine during 2012.
As you’ll see from the indicative retail prices this is a list that includes some of the most expensive Portuguese wines on the market. In general there’s plenty of good wines at lower price points in the market (as you can see by most of my Wines of the Week or the Top 10 Portuguese Wines by Essência do Vinho) but this is mostly a list of high-end wines, even if some – for the quality – can still be considered good values at their price.
As always I’ve marked my favorite wines (and this time also the good values) on the list. I haven’t yet tasted all of them so I’ll do an update on the list as soon as I taste them.
Award of Excellence
- Barca Velha 2004 (Red, Douro, 300 €) - favorite
- Quinta do Vale Meão 2010 (Red, Douro, 50 €) - favorite
- Poeira 2010 (Red, Douro, 30 €) - favorite - good value
- Quinta da Touriga-Chã 2009 (Red, Douro, 35 €) - favorite
- Ultreia 2008 (Red, Douro, 60 €)
- Quinta do Noval 2009 (Red, Douro, 30 €) - favorite
- Quinta da Leda 2009 (Red, Douro, 30 €) - favorite - good value
- Legado 2008 (Red, Douro)
- Quinta da Manoella Vinhas Velhas 2010 (Red, Douro, 60 €)
- Quinta do Vallado Reserva 2010 (Red, Douro, 20 €)
- Quinta da Pellada Dão 2008 (Red, Dão, 15 €) - favorite - good value
- Quinta dos Carvalhais Único 2009 (Red, Dão, 60 €) - favorite
- Principal Grande Reserva 2008 (Red, Barraida, 35 €)
- Kompassus Private Collection 2009 (Red, Barraida, 30 €)
- Quinta do Ribeirinho Pé Franco 2009 (Red, Barraida, 150 €)
- CH by Chocapalha 2009 (Tinto, Lisboa, 25 €)
- Cinquenta A.S. 2009 (Red, Setúbal, 35 €)
- Esporão Private Selection Garrafeira 2009 (Red, Alentejo, 35 €) - favorite
- Torre do Esporão Garrafeira 2007 (Red, Alentejo, 100 €)
- Pêra-Manca 2008 (Red, Alentejo, 190 €)
- Grande Rocim 2009 (Red, Alentejo, 40 €)
- Anselmo Mendes Curtimenta Alvarinho 2011 (White, Vinho Verde, 20 €)
- Quinta das Bágeiras Pai Abel 2009 (White, Barraida, 17 €)
- Warre’s Vintage 2009 (Fortified, Douro, 50 €) - favorite
- Taylor’s Vintage 2009 (Fortified, Douro, 64 €) - favorite
- Graham’s 30 anos (Fortified, Douro, 70 €) - favorite - good value
- Graham’s Colheita 1969 (Fortified, Douro, 235 €) - favorite
Madeira & Others
- José Maria da Fonseca Moscatel Roxo 20 Anos (Fortified, Setúbal, 75 €)
- Blandy’s Madeira 20 anos Terrantez (Fortified, Madeira, 45 €)
- Bastardinho de Azeitão Vinho Licoroso 30 anos (Fortified, Azeitão, 60 €)
The magazine also selected the top wines by region including a list of Port Wines. You can see the full list of selected wines (in Portuguese) on the magazine’s website.
The dates and location of the 2013 Digital Wine Communications Conference have been announced. This year’s EWBC will repeat its first ever location in 2008 and head to Logroño in Rioja, Spain on 25-27 October 2013.
This year’s EWBC theme is Flavour, reflecting the need to embrace the diversity of the world of wine in all its shapes (regions, grape varieties, wines, communicators, etc). An exciting and very actual topic for those involved in wine business.
The EWBC is one of the best professional wine events of the year and a great opportunity to network with some of the most interesting people working in the wine industry. Attended by all flavours of wine professionals including wine bloggers and digital communicators from over 35 countries around the globe, the EWBC is an important annual meeting point to stay updated on current wine industry trends.
I’ve been fortunate to be one of the only 2 people (besides the organizers) who has participated in all 5 EWBCs so far (Oscar Quevedo is the other). Also because I’m a 2008 alumni I get a free ticket this year (well played guys!).
Going to its 6th edition the EWBC has visited many countries in the past:
- The first ever edition of the EWBC was held in Rioja in 2008 where 40 bloggers from around the world got together to discuss wine and social Media.
- In 2009 the conference visited Lisbon, Portugal. The Adegga team helped organize this edition which was a tremendous success with over 150 participants.
- In 2010 the conference headed to Vienna, Austria and was a great opportunity to discover it’s fantastic wine regions and some delicious Grüner Veltliner wines with the other 200 participants.
- In 2011 the conference was held in Franciacorta, Italy. A great opportunity to discover some great Italian sparkling wines and delicious Tuscan wines in a superb post trip. 220 people attended.
- Finally last year, the EWBC 2012 took place in Izmir, Turkey and was a fantastic opportunity for the 280 people to visit and discover one of the most dynamic and exciting countries in the world, including it’s old and new wine culture.
The 2013 conference is sponsored by the Consejo Regulador de la Denominación de Origen Rioja and organized by Ryan Opaz, Gabriella Opaz and Robert McIntosh of social media company Vrazon.
Looking forward to another great event!
I’m in the beautiful region of Umbria in Italy preparing for the first Umbria for #winelovers event that will take place in the next few days in Terni. It’s a great opportunity to discover the local food and wine culture of one of the most exciting Italian wine regions.
Today I had the opportunity to visit Castello delle Regine, a local winery making good to excellent Umbrian wines. All proven by the very good (and consistent) level of quality at the 2 comprehensive 2001 to 2006 vertical tastings of the 100% Sangiovese and the 100% Merlot. My favorite vintages were the 2001, 2002 and 2004 for the Sangiovese and the 2001 and 2005 for the Merlot. All showing great potential for a good pairing with food.
To test this we headed to the winery’s own Restaurant Podernovo for lunch. A meal with lots of different dishes (see below) where all the meat which came from the winery’s cow farm. Simply delicious ingredients and fantastic wine lunch that has again confirmed how amazing Italy can be when it comes to fantastic food and wine experiences.
Photo by Ilkka Sirén
The 10th edition of Essência do Vinho, Portugal’s biggest wine event (though not the best :)), is happening this weekend in the beautiful city of Porto. This year’s program is filled with exciting tastings and special events. In what has become one of the most awaited wine ceremonies in Portugal, Essência do Vinho has once again selected its Top 10 Portuguese Wines.
A list of 51 wines (38 reds e 14 whites) was pre-selected by Essência during the year. Then, a panel of international wine influencers (journalists, critics, bloggers) coming from such countries as Germany, Brazil, Denmark, Spain, Finland, Portugal and Sweden selected 2 white wines and 8 red wines for the final list.
Top 10 Portuguese Wines by Essência do Vinho
- Soalheiro Alvarinho Primeiras Vinhas 2011 (White, Vinho Verde, 15 €) – favorite
Grape varieties: Alvarinho
- Guru 2011 (White, Douro, 25 €) – favorite
Viosinho, Rabigato, Codega do Larinho, Gouveio
- Tributo 2010 (Red, Tejo, 22 €)
Syrah, Grenache, Viognier
- Curriculum Vitae 2010 (Red, Douro, 57 €) – favorite
A blend of +25 grape varieties from 80-plus year old vines including Rufete, Tinta Amarela, Donzelinho Tinto, Tinta Francisca, Sousão, Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz, Touriga Nacional
- Pintas 2010 (Red, Douro, 60 €) – favorite
A blend of +20 grape varieties from 78 year old vines
- Terrenus Vinhas Velhas Reserva 2009 (Red, Alentejo, 40 €)
Aragonês, Trincadeira, Grand Noir, Alicante Bouchet and others (9 different Portuguese varieties) from 90 year old vines
- Casa de Santa Vitória Grande Reserva 2008 (Red, Alentejo, 12 €)
Touriga Nacional, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah
- Passadouro Touriga Nacional 2010 (Red, Douro, 18 €)
- Grande Rocim Reserva 2009 (Red, Alentejo, 50 €)
- Hexagon 2008 (Red, Setúbal, 36 €)
Touriga Nacional, Syrah, Trincadeira, Tinto Cão, Touriga Franca, Tannat
I’ve marked my favorite wines from the list though I haven’t yet tasted all of the wines. I’ll do an update on the list as soon as I taste them.
The prices for the Top 10 Portuguese Wines start at an inexpensive 11 € (for the Passadouro) while both the top red and the top white are below 20 €. Some good value options in this list. The other good news is that many of these wines are available outside of Portugal. Enjoy!
Every couple of weeks I head to the Artis Wine Bar in Lisbon for a night of popular Portuguese food and one or two good bottles of wine. These are now popular nights amongst my friends who have become fans of the delicious wines available on the bar’s extensive wine list and the great food pairings.
One of the bar’s best and most popular foods options is the house-recipe Bitoque, a portuguese-style fried steak and egg with homestyle cube fries and a special tasty sauce. This is a brilliant pairing for a bottle of Meandro 2009, a Douro red whose flavors and structure will completely marry the steak, egg and fries fatness.
Meandro is the very attractive first wine of the Quinta do Vale Meão and the younger brother of the one of the best wines from the Douro (also named Quinta do Vale Meão). Made by winemaker Francisco “Xito” Olazabal the Meandro is a wine with pronounced fruit aromas, meaty and chocolaty flavors, all well balanced by a good soft chewy structure and clean fresh finish. A really great pleasure to drink!
The Meandro 2009 is a delicious blend of Touriga Nacional (35%), Touriga Franca (30%), Tinta Roriz (25%), Tinta Barroca (5%) and Sousão (5%). Some of the same varieties also used in Port Wine. The Meandro is a wine that will age for a few years (I just had a Meandro 2000 a few weeks ago and it was still very good) but thankfully it is also very ready to be enjoyed right now.
Meandro is clearly one of my favorite wines and one the best values in Portuguese wine. For around 10 € this is a must buy Douro red.
The 2010 is already on the market and it is as delicious as the 2009. For those of you reading this from outside Portugal I have good news. You can find Meandro in many wine retailers around the world. Enjoy!
Note: Artis is wine bar with a great wine list. Unfortunately it allows people to smoke inside. Most of the times it’s not a problem and people avoid smoking inside. However on some Fridays and Saturdays it can become way too much smoke for a #winelover.
Red | Douro | Touriga Nacional (35%), Touriga Franca (30%), Tinta Roriz (25%), Tinta Barroca (5%) and Sousão (5%)
Where to buy
I headed to the Dão wine region this weekend for the first #daowinelover Meeting, an event organized by two wine bloggers to help promote this Portuguese wine region. The event was a huge success and it represents a consumer-led breathe of fresh air for the Dão wine region.
Dão is often called by connoisseurs as the Burgundy of Portugal for it’s ability to produce highly elegant, age-worthy, food-friendly and complex wines. Despite this, Dão still lacks visibility and recognition amongst wine consumers and is often overlooked by wine professionals. Also, little is done at the regional marketing level and promotional activities generally lack differentiation.
It was in this scenario that two Portuguese wine bloggers (Miguel Pereira from Pingamor and Rui Miguel Massa from Pingas no Copo) decided to put their money where their mouth is and organize a series of initiatives to help promote their beloved Dão wine region.
They started with an online tasting called #daowinelover Day. It was a 2-hour event where wine lovers would select a Dão wine to drink and share online with other participants. People started sharing their choices and by the end of the tasting a good number of Dão bottles had been opened and talked about in a few places around the world. It was a promising start and quickly another event was setup.
This time the goal was to get consumers and Dão wineries together under the same roof in one same-day event and so the #daowinelover Meeting was created. The event joined together a few dozen wineries, passionate wine bloggers and Dão wine lovers. Participants came from different parts of Portugal to share their interest for the region, meet the winemakers and taste the wines.
The event was hosted by Casa da Passarella which opened its doors to the whole group including other wineries from the region. An obvious, but rarely seen, attitude in the world of wine. Well done.
The program included a unique tasting of old Dão wines with the goal of demonstrating their ability to age. The Centro de Estudos Vitivinícolas do Dão brought and presented a few rarities including the 1964, 1974, 1992 (whites) and 1971, 1987, 1996 and 1998 (reds). An incredible tasting with excellent old wines, some of which, almost with 50 years old were showing beautifully. The white wine CEV 1964 is nothing short of incredible, still being able to be enjoyed in all its greatness. If this doesn’t prove Dão’s age-worthiness I don’t know what will.
The tasting was followed by a walk-around tasting of all the wineries presenting their wines which included wines from: Casa da Passarela, Julia Kemper, Quinta dos Carvalhais, Quinta da Bica, Quinta da Falorca, Quinta da Fata, Quinta da Pellada, Quinta da Ponte Pedrinha, Quinta da Vegia, Quinta das Camélias, Quinta do Perdigão, Quinta Mendes Pereira, Vinha de Reis, Vinha Paz, Dão Sul, Casa de Mouraz, Boas Quintas, Terras de Tavares and a few more. Definitely a strong and representative group of some of the best wineries in the Dão.
I re-tasted some of my favorite wines and discovered new ones:
- Red Wines: Quinta da Falorca Garrafeira 2007, Fonte de Gonçalvinho Tinta Roriz 2010, Quinta da Vegia Reserva 2003, Casa da Passarella Old Vines 2008, Quinta dos Carvalhais Jaen 2011 and Vinha Othon 2009.
- White Wines: Primus 2011 (world class!), Casa da Passarella Encruzado 2011, Vinha de Reis 2010 and Quinta dos Carvalhais Colheita Seleccionada 2001.
The event finished with a group meal which consisted of a very traditional roasted lamb (cooked in Casa da Passarela’s own wood burning oven) paired together with any of the wines available at the tasting. Then Cottage cheese and pumpkin jam for a delicious dessert. A meal that ended with another great conversation opportunity between consumers and winemakers (just as the organizers intended).
It was time to head back home with the feeling of a having lived through a great example of what a group of motivated wine consumers can do for their beloved wines, wineries and wine region.
Consumers as Ambassadors
For a region that was established in 1908 (one of the oldest in Portugal), the Dão wine region has certainly lost its touch with the wine market at some point in its history. For many years little or nothing has been done to promote Dão’s quality and distinctiveness as a wine region to build awareness with wine consumers.
Now a group of passionate consumers decided to act and together with some wineries and key people from Dão, are bringing to Dão some of its well-deserved and much-needed attention and visibility. They are jointly doing for Dão what no winery or institution alone can do.
The fact that a group of consumers can help promote a wine region is as surprising as it is innovative. The Internet has certainly been the tool that allowed relationships to be created and evolve but it is at events like the one I describe above that business and relationships thrive and wineries win in the competitive wine marketplace.
Thank you Miguel Pereira, Rui Miguel Massa and Paulo Nunes (from Casa da Passarela) for the great event. You’re making sure the Dão wine region gets what it deserves, a great reputation to match its great wines.
I’m a big fan of wines made with Encruzado, a grape variety mainly planted in the Dão wine region in Portugal. They are generally very food-friendly and well balanced making great pairings with some of the most delicious foods like sushi or fresh grilled fish. On top of that they also tend to be great value for money.
The Quinta das Marias Encruzado 2011 is a good example of all this. For around 10 euros you get an extremely well balanced, quite bright and fresh, slightly crispy and rich finish wine. A recipe for pairing success.
I ordered this bottle at Sea Me, a nice seafood downtown Lisbon restaurant, to enjoy with some fish & vegetable tempura starter followed by a fresh grilled Turbot. A delicious world-class pairing with a touch of Portuguese elegance.
|Quinta das Marias Encruzado 2011
White | Dão | Encruzado
Where to buy
For a wine lover, visiting Quinta do Noval is a great opportunity to experience in loco the birthplace of some of the best Port wines on the market and to learn more about the incredible history and culture of wine in the Douro. On top of that, getting a chance to taste a very unique Quinta do Noval Nacional is, I assure you, nothing short of heaven.
Driving through the Douro, Quinta do Noval is a particularly hard property to miss. A few minutes after passing by the small village of Pinhão, Quinta do Noval shows up magnificiently on the hillside with its lines of terraced vineyards and aligned stair walls painted in white. Inside Quinta do Noval, the old house and cedar tree are a welcoming sign that people and history have had a long and strong connection in this place.
It starts raining slowly but for what seemed like an eternity we stay beneath the cedar tree listening to Rute’s voice telling the history of Quinta do Noval and observing the immensity of the Douro valley as it spreads throughout the hills in front of me.
As we visit the beautiful vineyards we make a stop at the birthplace vineyard of the great Noval Nacional. A small 2 hectare plot (ungrafted vines and untouched by phylloxera) where the average age is around 40 years and still includes some 80 year old vines.
Amazed by the beautiful landscape and the intense sense of history we head to the the first tasting, Noval’s Douro red wines. The Quinta do Noval and Quinta do Noval Touriga Nacional were my favorites of the tasting and are good examples of the kind of delicious reds that are coming out of the Douro. We move on to start tasting some Port.
- Noval Black
First Noval Black which is an easily accessible Port made to be enjoyed with no complications (no aging or decanting necessary). Like a good LBV, it screams for a piece of dark chocolate to go with it. Perfect Valentine’s day gift with that special box of dark chocolate. Deliciousness: 6.
- Quinta do Noval LBV Unfiltered 2005
Next the Quinta do Noval LBV Unfiltered 2005 which is simply one of the best LBVs on the market. Lush and powerful but beautifully balanced. Simply delicious. Pairs perfectly with a Stilton cheese. A great wine to have at home and sip one glass or two every week. Deliciousness: 8.
We move on to the Tawny Ports. Tasting 10 to 40 year old tawnies side-by-side is one of the most exciting Port wine experiences and one I like very much. Each of the wines is constantly evolving in the glass and transforms a tasting with a few wines in a rich experience of aromas and flavors. This tasting was no different.
- Quinta do Noval 10 Year Old
We start with the Quinta do Noval 10 Year Old which has a wonderful freshness and despite being just a 10 Years Old it already demonstrates an attractive complexity. Served chilled and on its own it’s one of the most delicious aperitifs you can have. Having friends over for dinner? Open this bottle, it’s a crowd pleaser. Great option for cocktails too. Deliciousness: 7.
- Quinta do Noval 20 Year Old
Next is the Quinta do Noval 20 Year Old which is an explosive, powerful and rich Tawny with a great long finish. Beautifully complex and vibrant at the same time. One of my favorite 20 Years Old on the market. A wine to be enjoyed with some time letting it evolve on your glass. A perfect companion for a dinner with special friends where you can prepare that delicious foie gras starter (a pairing made in heaven!) or end the meal with a tasty crème brûlée. Serve slightly chilled. Deliciousness: 8.
- Quinta do Noval 40 Year Old
Finally the oldest tawny of the tasting. The Quinta do Noval 40 Year Old is a fabulous tawny Port. Highly refined and delicate and showing some great freshness for its age. Lets not forget that a 40 year old Tawny is a blend of old tawny Ports from different vintages with an average age of 40 or more years. It’s quite impressive and I could be here for hours tasting this wine. This is a wine that I’ll enjoy as dessert on it’s own, no other pairing necessary, just time. Deliciousness: 8
Incredibly, the best of the night is yet to come. I’m now having dinner at Quinta do Noval looking at its amazing view of the Douro valley and enjoying a good conversation with a friend and our host. Finally it’s dessert and cheese time and I’m ready to taste some very fine Port.
- Quinta do Noval Colheita 1997
The Quinta do Noval Colheita 1997 is a fantastic pleasure to drink. Powerful but balanced and well defined with a lovely complexity and a vibrant finish. When tasting this bottle you can understand the richness in craftsmanship that goes into each bottle of Tawny Port in a house like Noval. Pure quality. The Colheita 1997 has been, since the day I first tasted, a loyal companion when I want to show my friends what a great young Colheita can be like. At around 40€, this a must buy. Deliciousness: 8
- Quinta do Noval Vintage 1994
The Quinta do Noval Vintage 1994 starts with subtleness like it was trying to hide something. But, as it opens, it starts showing why subtleness in this case it’s actually a virtue. The previously hidden complex layers of flavors are now present and the 1994 is just showing how different and elegant a Port wine can be. Pure balance and great pairing with a delicious Serra da Estrela cheese. Deliciousness: 8
We move on to taste and enjoy the last bottle of the night.
Quinta do Noval Vintage Nacional 1994
The Quinta do Noval Vintage Nacional 1994 is charming from the first moment. Extremely delicate yet firm. With incredible finesse but highly complex. Incredibly balanced at all levels. A pleasure to sense, an indulgence to taste.
Enjoying this Noval Nacional is like enjoying a slice of the perfect chocolate cake, made with layers and layers of very well defined and focused flavors of different quality chocolats that blend perfectly on each bite.
Simply one of the best Port Wines I’ve ever had. This is one of those wines that when you open them, that’s the special occasion they were made for. Unique. Deliciousness: 10
I woke up the next morning at 6am as if wanting to finish the previous night once again. I take a look outside and the valley is fully covered in low clouds. I can barely see outside the window but I decide to go for a walk. No matter where I look the view is always beautiful and surprising. I spend the next couple of hours lost between the vines, the view and my thoughts.
Returning to the house and after a fortifying breakfast (no wine but pun intended) we head over to the magnificent cellar at Noval’s. The cellar is a Port wine lover’s dream. It’s filled with a few thousand barrels that are used to store and age Port wine. Each individual barrel has its own story which is tightly connected to the wine they protect and age and is deeply related to the people (winemakers, barrel-makers and blenders) that handle them. An impressive heritage that contributes massively to the kind of quality Port Wines that Noval is putting on the market every year.
A last stop at the main house to buy some old Port. Suddenly I realize that I’m just leaving the Douro one more time and already can’t wait to come back. While away I miss the history, the culture and the people that make the Douro and Port Wine such an incredible rich part of our culture.
Thank you Christian Seely and the rest of the team at Quinta do Noval for taking good care of such an important part of the Douro heritage. Thank you Marie-Louise for your kind invitation to visit Quinta do Noval. Thank you Rute for your hospitality. Thank you Luiz Alberto once again for sharing such a great moment.