December 17, 2008

Portuguese Wine and Port Tasting

We are doing this tasting regardless of whether or not it snows!

Portuguese
Wine & Port Tasting
Featuring importer Augusto Gabriel of Signature Imports
Wednesday, Dec. 17th
5:30-7:00pm
$10/person to taste a flight of these 15 wonderful wines
*Purchase a case of wine (and you may mix wines in that case) and use the $10 fee towards that case (limit, 1 $10 fee/case)
Please e-mail back or call the store (865-3993) to register and reserve a place!

What makes these wines so interesting is that we are looking at 4 distinctly different wine making areas in Portugal AND we are going to taste some higher end Portuguese wine!
  • Duoro River Valley (this is where Port is made and some IMPRESSIVE "still" wines made from the Port grapes). The designated "Duoro" wine area is the eastern part of the valley. The hillsides are extremely steep here and only in the last 20 years has Portugal had enough money to create ready access to this area - this has opened up the area for better winemaking b/c the growers can now get their grapes quickly to the winery.
  • Dao - just south of Vinho Verde and Duoro. Still in northern Portugal. Dead center in terms of east-to-west.
  • Vinho Verde - northwestern Portugal. The western part of the Duoro River passes through Vinho Verde.
  • Alentejo - this is the explansive plain in Southern Portugal that pushes up against the Spanish border and the hill towns along the border. This area is due east of Lisbon and a touch south of it along the Spanish border.
Portugal is an area that US winedrinkers are still discovering - although Portugal is an ANCIENT winemaking area! In the 1600's the British began importing Portuguese wines - eventually adding brandy to the casks to improve flavor and stability of the wine during transport - creating Port (it's fortified with brandy).

As a result, much of the world associated Portugal with fortified wines for centuries and never really thought about its "still" wine (the Portuguese call red and white wine "still" wine). Also, Portugal for much of the 20th century was dirt poor after decades of economic and political isolation (they suffered under a comparable dictatorship to the Franco one in Spain). This resulted in little attention or investment in winemaking - since the 1980's and integration into the European Union, that has changed and Portuguese wineries are roaring into the world's forefront!

The grapes are unknown to us in many ways - Touriga Nacional, Arinto, Aragones, Tinto Roriz (what the Spanish call Tempranillo), Trincadeira, Alfrochiero Pretoand Castelao.

Remember, this is not a seminar. You may come at any time between 5:30 and 7:00pm.

The Wines:

Whites:

Casa da Vila Verde Vinho Verde 2007 (Vinho Verde) $9.99 - lusher and richer than most Vinho Verdes. Bottled without any CO2, so this doesn't have the slight effervescent spritziness of many Vinho Verdes. 11.5% alcohol versus 9.5% for many. Estate grown and bottled (most Vinho Verdes are not). Blend of Trajadura and Loureiro. We are going to taste another Vinho Verde, not one of Augusto's, side-by-side with this as a comparison.

Casa da Vila Verde Alvarinho 2006 (Vinho Verde) $12.99 - This is a wonderful white wine! From the same grape the Spanish call Albarino! At a much lower price! Aromas and flavors of tropical fruit, grapefruit, peaches and green apples. Stainless steel fermentation. Food pairing - great with seafood.

Casa de Santar White 2007 (Dao) $16.99 - Floral and stone-fruit (apricots and peaches) aromas. Soft texture. Blend of Encruzado, Cerceal-branco and Bical. Estate-grown grapes. Hand-harvested. Stainless steel fermentation. "Battonage" done (they stir up the "lies" or residue in the vat - this softens the wine). 50% goes through malolactic fermentation (this is what makes some Chardonnay "buttery and creamy" - this wine is not "buttery and creamy" - the malolactic fermentation adds more of a velvety texture to the wine. Food pairing - seafood, shellfish, great with appetizers.

Reds:

The following winery, Quinta de Ventozelo (3 wines and 3 ports), is the oldest property in Duoro and the Wine & Spirits "Winery of the Year" in 2005.

Quinta de Ventozelo "Vinzelo" Duoro 2006 (Duoro) $10.99 - Fresh and easy wine. Not complicated! Just good! Red blend of Tinta Roriz, Touriga Franca, Tinta Barroca and Touriga Nacional. Stainless steel - sees no oak. Filtered. Food pairing - pizza, pasta, roast chicken, mushroom dishes, etc.

Quinta de Ventozelo Touriga Nacional 2003 (Duoro) $26.99 - Dark red color. Aromas of blackberries, red berries, baking spices and coffee. Flavors of fresh dark fruit, stony minerals and more - this is not "just a fruit bomb." Coming into its own - this will easily last another 2-3 years and maybe longer. 100% Touriga Franca. 8 months in American oak. 6 months minimum bottle aging before release. Lightly filtered. Wine Enthusiast, 90 points.

Quinta de Ventozelo Touriga Franca 2003 (Duoro) $25.99 - This might not be for everyone. I think it's kinda cool and interesting. More of a food wine. Just beginning to come into its own. 100% Touriga Franca. 8 months in American oak. 6 months minimum bottle aging before release. Lightly filtered. Food pairing - lamb, aged cheese, roasted poultry, etc.

Casa de Santar Tinto 2003 (Dao)$13.99 - Bright ruby color. Long silky finish. Blend of Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz and Alfrochiero. Estate-grown grapes. Hand-harvested. Aged in American oak casks for 4-6 months (barrels have been used at least 1 time). Bottled and aged for another 6-12 months before release.

Casa de Santar Reserva 2003 (Dao) $24.99 - Deep color. Velvety texture. Aromas of mocha, chocolate, coffee, smoke, raisins and dark fruits. Flavors of dark fruits, dark chocolate, spices, rich earth.....long finish! This is the crown jewel of the Casa de Santar line-up! Aged 1 year in 100% new Seguin Moreau French oak barrels. Wine is fined, but not filtered. Blend of Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz and Alfrochiero Preto.

Marques de Borba Tinto 2006 (Alentejo) $16.99 - Joao Portugal Ramos might be Portugal's leading winemaker (these other wines are so good, it's hard to say!). Robert Parker of the Wine Advocate has called Portugal Ramos one of the "emerging superstars of winemaking in Portugal." He's worked with the Rothschild-owned Quinta do Carmo. Now, he works for himself! New moder-winery that is also traditional (new stainless steel fermenters, traditional stone lagars for crushing the grapes by foot, naturally cooled cellar). Located near the gleaming white buildings of Estremoz, a hill town in the district of Borba. Rich, medium-bodied red. Aromas of strawberries, spices and flowers. Blend of Aragonez and Trincadeira. Hand-picked grapes. De-stemmed and then crushed. Aged 5 months in oak barrels.

Pontual Touriga Nacional/Trincadeira 2004 (Alentejo) $25.99 - One of the better wines I've tasted in ages! Big red! deep tannins that are tamed and softened with some age. Aromas and flavors of black plums and flowers and notes of spices and vanilla. 65% Touriga Nacional & 35% Trincadeira. 12 months in French and American oak.

Ports:

Quinta de Ventozelo used to sell their Port grapes - then they started making Port.....I'm glad they did! This "quinta" dates back centuries - it's one of the oldest on record and its grapes have made award-winning Ports for other names for decades. Now, it is making its own award-winning wines!

Quinta de Ventozelo Late Bottle Vintage 2000 $29.99 - Deep ruby Port! Aromas and flavors of black cherries, dark chocolate, vanilla and hints of aged wood. Great length on the flavors. Aged 4 years in casks and then bottled and aged some more! Blend of Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz, Tinta Barroca and Tinta Cao. Grapes are crushed by foot without destemming. Fortified by adding 100% natural grape brandy. Unfiltered. Food pairing - serve with Aged Gouda, Manchego, blue cheeses, nuts, chocolate, spicy apple pie. Wine Enthusiast, 89 points.

Quinta de Ventozelo 10-year Tawny Port $39.99 - Aromas and flavors of raisins, caramel, toffee, dried fruits....Blend of Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz, Tinta Barroca and Tinta Cao. Grapes are crushed by foot without destemming. Fortified by adding 100% natural grape brandy. Unfiltered. Average of 10 years in "pipas" (550-litre casks of native oak and chestnut). Food pairing - blue cheese, softer cheeses, quiche, coffee, dried fruits, pate & foie gras. In warmer weather, chill and serve as a cocktail. In cooler weather, cuddle up in front of a fire! Wine Spectator, 90 points.

Quinta de Ventozelo 20-year Tawny Port $64.99 - Clear, rich amber color. Softer and more blended aromas than the 10-year - raisins, cocoa, melted brown suger and butter and dried fruits. Flavors of figs. Long and smooth. Blend of Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz, Tinta Barroca and Tinta Cao. Grapes are crushed by foot without destemming. Fortified by adding 100% natural grape brandy. Unfiltered. Average of 20 years in "pipas" (550-litre casks of native oak and chestnut). Food pairing - blue cheese, mature aged cheeses, dried figs, dates and apricots. In warmer weather, chill and serve as a cocktail. In cooler weather, cuddle up in front of a fire! Wine Spectator, 89 points.

X Port - I'm missing my notes on this one and the name! It's a ruby and it's about $26-30.

We hope to see you there!

Eric

Freeport Cheese & Wine
Freeport, ME 04032
(207) 865-3993

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