14 Portuguese wines, not Port?

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Joshua Kates
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14 Portuguese wines, not Port?

#1 Post by Joshua Kates » May 20th, 2019, 5:12 pm

We'll be travelling there this summer, and I have looked at some of the threads in the other forums, as well as consulted some books, though the few I could find were pretty old. In any case, I'm wondering what the great non-port wines of Portugal are considered to be? What , if any, are up there with Unica or Lopez de Heredia, or excellent, and of course age-worthy Bordeaux or Burgundy or Barolo (both red or white--I've had some alvarinhos with age that I've liked). I've encountered names like Casa Ferreirinha Riserva Speciale or Barca Velha, but when I read the notes I can find on CT, it's not clear what I'm getting into, so that knowledge from experienced tasters would really help.


Thanks in advance!
Last edited by Joshua Kates on August 1st, 2019, 5:31 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Age-worthy, classic Portugese wines, not Port?

#2 Post by dcornutt » May 20th, 2019, 5:14 pm

Barca Velha
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Re: Age-worthy, classic Portugese wines, not Port?

#3 Post by Robert.A.Jr. » May 20th, 2019, 5:20 pm

Colares!

Some threads here about these wonderful, idiosyncratic wines. And they age so effortlessly. I’ve had a few from the 1960s over the last couple of years.

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Re: Age-worthy, classic Portugese wines, not Port?

#4 Post by Chris T. » May 20th, 2019, 6:28 pm

Wine and soul - Pintas
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Re: Age-worthy, classic Portugese wines, not Port?

#5 Post by john stimson » May 20th, 2019, 7:08 pm

Not that they are necessarily world beaters, but I got a lot of enjoyment out of the various Port houses dry red Riservas--eg Quinta de Crasto, etc. Seems hard to find many of these in the US.

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Re: Age-worthy, classic Portugese wines, not Port?

#6 Post by GregT » May 20th, 2019, 8:22 pm

Most of the Port houses make still wines these days. If you can, look for some reports by Squires - whatever you think of him, he's been tasting them for years now and is respected by many ITB.
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Re: Age-worthy, classic Portugese wines, not Port?

#7 Post by M Mager » May 20th, 2019, 8:26 pm

Robert.A.Jr. wrote:
May 20th, 2019, 5:20 pm
Colares!

Some threads here about these wonderful, idiosyncratic wines. And they age so effortlessly. I’ve had a few from the 1960s over the last couple of years.
Yep. These are about as close to immortal as you can get, besides Madeira. Been thinking about opening a '69, but worried it's still a baby...

Michael
Michael

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Re: Age-worthy, classic Portugese wines, not Port?

#8 Post by Robert.A.Jr. » May 20th, 2019, 8:37 pm

M Mager wrote:
May 20th, 2019, 8:26 pm
Robert.A.Jr. wrote:
May 20th, 2019, 5:20 pm
Colares!

Some threads here about these wonderful, idiosyncratic wines. And they age so effortlessly. I’ve had a few from the 1960s over the last couple of years.
Yep. These are about as close to immortal as you can get, besides Madeira. Been thinking about opening a '69, but worried it's still a baby...

Michael
I popped a ‘69 recently with Berserkers Fu, Carnes and MarcF. I don’t think Fu cared about it, but it’s pretty intriguing wine.

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Re: Age-worthy, classic Portugese wines, not Port?

#9 Post by Mikko R » May 20th, 2019, 10:50 pm

Definitely Caves São João. I've had their basic Reserva 2000 vintage, 1982 Bairrada Frei João Reserva and 1985 Dão Porta dos Cavaleiros Reserva and they were all amazing! And they aren't even expensive.
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Re: Age-worthy, classic Portugese wines, not Port?

#10 Post by Markus S » May 21st, 2019, 5:04 am

I think you are assuming red wines, but some whites are age-worthy as well like Caves Sao Joao 'Poco do Lobo' , but it might be too cheap for you if you are planning on paying Barca Velha prices.
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Re: Age-worthy, classic Portugese wines, not Port?

#11 Post by John Chapman » May 21st, 2019, 9:29 am

Joshua, we're heading there in the fall, I'd be curious if you had any interesting travel plans, places to stay etc. I'm just starting to research.

John

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Re: Age-worthy, classic Portugese wines, not Port?

#12 Post by Mike Grammer » May 21st, 2019, 9:47 am

Niepoort's dry reds, especially the Batuta cuvee, come to mind right away. Stern stuff for sure, worth it if you let them age. I've never had enough patience :) The Redoma is a little more accessible but usually 7 years at least is always a good call with those.

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Re: Age-worthy, classic Portugese wines, not Port?

#13 Post by Eric Egan » May 21st, 2019, 9:52 am

The two best are probably:

Alexandre d'Almeida Buçaco Reservado (old vintages if you can find them - both red and white are superb with extended age).
Ferreirinha (Barca Velha of course, but also the Reserva Especial).

There's also a bunch of very good, relatively unknown producers - if you can find anything old, just buy it, try it, and buy some more. Apart from the above, they won't cost you much!
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Re: Age-worthy, classic Portugese wines, not Port?

#14 Post by Dale Williams » May 21st, 2019, 10:17 am

Mikko R wrote:
May 20th, 2019, 10:50 pm
Definitely Caves São João. I've had their basic Reserva 2000 vintage, 1982 Bairrada Frei João Reserva and 1985 Dão Porta dos Cavaleiros Reserva and they were all amazing! And they aren't even expensive.
A friend opened the 1985 Frei Joao Bairrada Tinto Saturday, it was interesting and had plenty of life.
Barca Velha can be great, but hard to source and has gotten expensive.

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Re: Age-worthy, classic Portugese wines, not Port?

#15 Post by Joshua Kates » May 21st, 2019, 11:57 am

Thanks for all the suggestions, folks,
Please keep them coming, new posters, or same, if others come to mind. For some reason, I always thought Colares was a sweet wine; glad to learn I'm wrong before making it over there. Barca Velha definitely has gotten expensive from what I can tell. I will look out for Caves São João, Ferreirinha, and Alexandre d'Almeida, among others.
Joshua, we're heading there in the fall, I'd be curious if you had any interesting travel plans, places to stay etc. I'm just starting to research.

John
John, I will PM you or post something in Travel by and by. We know some people with a place in Lisbon, so definitely have some places there. There are also a number of good old threads by Roy (Hersh) and others relating to places outside of Lisbon, where he apparently gives tours.

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Re: Age-worthy, classic Portugese wines, not Port?

#16 Post by Brian Gilp » May 21st, 2019, 12:08 pm

Mike Grammer wrote:
May 21st, 2019, 9:47 am
The Redoma is a little more accessible but usually 7 years at least is always a good call with those.
The 2001 is still in good shape. The bottle I had a few months ago didn't show any signs of going over the hill any time soon. I'd guess it has at least 2 more years and probably 5.

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Re: Age-worthy, classic Portugese wines, not Port?

#17 Post by Eric Ifune » May 21st, 2019, 4:14 pm

In the Lisboa region, Quinta de Chocapalha. Sandra Tavares of Wine and Soul parents' estate. She makes the wine, her sister sells them. Their Arinto is an age worthy white. My favorite reds are the Vinha Mae (has a bit of Syrah) and the CH (100% Touriga Nacional).
In the Alentejo, Herdade do Mouchao. Perhaps my favorite. Their flagship wine is mainly Alicante Bouche with a bit of Trincadera. Needs lots of age. Foot tread in lagars, then aged in 5000 liter ovals. Quinta do Mouro makes great red and whites, a classic producer. Cartuxa is a large producer, part of a nonprofit who's profits go to the local community. Their flagship wine is Perimanca both red and white and are up there with Barca Velha in reputation. The white is a bargain. Their Reserva red is almost as good as the Perimanca at a third the price. Susana Estaban in the north of Alentejo makes great wines. She does an annual project with another famous Portuguese winemaker on a rotating basis called "Sidecar."
In the Dao, Alvaro Castro is one of the greatest winemakers in Portugal. He has the Quinta da Pellada. Great wines. The Carosel is their flagship 100% Touriga Nacional. Quinta de Saes is his other estate. Both estates are great at all price points. Carlos Lucas makes a fantastic Encruzado. Encruzado is my favorite white grape after Riesling. Very much like a white Burgundy and ages just as well.
In Bairrada, Luis Pato is great. His single vineyard Baga wines are stupendous. His daughter Filipa Pato has her own winery. She does a bit more experimenting than her father with amphora and such. Don't miss out on their sparkling wines.
In Vinho Verde, my favorites are Quinta do Ameal, especially their Louveiro and the Soalheiro estate. These wines can age.
In the Douro, there are the usual suspects. Niepoort, Wine and Soul, Casa Ferreirinha, Quinta Vale Meao, Quinta do Vallado, Quinta do Crasto, Viera de Souza, Quinta da Levandeira.
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Re: Age-worthy, classic Portugese wines, not Port?

#18 Post by Otto Forsberg » May 22nd, 2019, 12:13 am

I concur with the point with Colares. I've had a red Colares or several from every past decade until the 1930's and none of the wines had started going downhill (except for 1984 that was flat and dead).

Based on my experiences, the red Colares wines develop for some 30-40 years and then they stop evolving. Every wine seemed more aged than the previous one when we went down from 2010's to 2000's, to 1990's, to 1980's... but from 1970's onwards back to the 1930's wines the wines felt quite similar to each other. If you had them blind in a random order, it would've been impossible to say which one was the oldest and which one the youngest. So if any of you people have Colares 1969 or some other vintages, those wines can be kept easily for another 50 years - but most likely they won't be much different from what they are now.

Some other names to look for are red and white Bucaco (probably the closest thing to R. Lopez de Heredia if an older vintage), the aforementioned Caves Sao João and Luis Pato wines and many other Bairrada reds, Borba wines from Alentejo, many Dão reds (like Alvaro Castro mentioned above) and Niepoort's Redomas (I've had all the older Redomas back to the first commercially released vintage and they are either drinking now beautifully or still feel relatively young).

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Re: Age-worthy, classic Portugese wines, not Port?

#19 Post by JG Salazar » May 22nd, 2019, 8:09 am

Eric Ifune wrote:
May 21st, 2019, 4:14 pm
In the Lisboa region, Quinta de Chocapalha. Sandra Tavares of Wine and Soul parents' estate. She makes the wine, her sister sells them. Their Arinto is an age worthy white. My favorite reds are the Vinha Mae (has a bit of Syrah) and the CH (100% Touriga Nacional).
In the Alentejo, Herdade do Mouchao. Perhaps my favorite. Their flagship wine is mainly Alicante Bouche with a bit of Trincadera. Needs lots of age. Foot tread in lagars, then aged in 5000 liter ovals. Quinta do Mouro makes great red and whites, a classic producer. Cartuxa is a large producer, part of a nonprofit who's profits go to the local community. Their flagship wine is Perimanca both red and white and are up there with Barca Velha in reputation. The white is a bargain. Their Reserva red is almost as good as the Perimanca at a third the price. Susana Estaban in the north of Alentejo makes great wines. She does an annual project with another famous Portuguese winemaker on a rotating basis called "Sidecar."
In the Dao, Alvaro Castro is one of the greatest winemakers in Portugal. He has the Quinta da Pellada. Great wines. The Carosel is their flagship 100% Touriga Nacional. Quinta de Saes is his other estate. Both estates are great at all price points. Carlos Lucas makes a fantastic Encruzado. Encruzado is my favorite white grape after Riesling. Very much like a white Burgundy and ages just as well.
In Bairrada, Luis Pato is great. His single vineyard Baga wines are stupendous. His daughter Filipa Pato has her own winery. She does a bit more experimenting than her father with amphora and such. Don't miss out on their sparkling wines.
In Vinho Verde, my favorites are Quinta do Ameal, especially their Louveiro and the Soalheiro estate. These wines can age.
In the Douro, there are the usual suspects. Niepoort, Wine and Soul, Casa Ferreirinha, Quinta Vale Meao, Quinta do Vallado, Quinta do Crasto, Viera de Souza, Quinta da Levandeira.
If you see Vertice sparkling wine, it's always worthwhile.
What he said.

I would add the wines of Luis Seabra to the mix as well. His top Douro white is phenomenal.
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Re: Age-worthy, classic Portugese wines, not Port?

#20 Post by John Morris » May 22nd, 2019, 8:16 am

The baga grape has the tannin and acid to age well. Luis Pato and his daughter, Filipo Pato, both make very good baga wines. I've had the father's wines at 15-20 years and they showed very well in good vintages.
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Re: Age-worthy, classic Portugese wines, not Port?

#21 Post by Mike Grammer » May 22nd, 2019, 9:13 am

fourth support of Luis Pato--had forgotten (bad Mike!) him, does make excellent and ageworthy stuff and I also like his Brut.

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Re: Age-worthy, classic Portugese wines, not Port?

#22 Post by Clayton Wai-Poi » May 22nd, 2019, 10:09 am

I have a long weekend in Lisbon in July so loving these recs. Thanks all.

For the wine a mentioned above, are they a lot cheaper in Portugal or similar to US pricing?

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Re: Age-worthy, classic Portugese wines, not Port?

#23 Post by Joshua Kates » May 22nd, 2019, 3:46 pm

Clayton Wai-Poi wrote:
May 22nd, 2019, 10:09 am
I have a long weekend in Lisbon in July so loving these recs. Thanks all.

For the wine a mentioned above, are they a lot cheaper in Portugal or similar to US pricing?
I think they are at least some, and sometimes quite a bit a little less expensive. Here are links to two wine lists (the sole two stars in Lisbon), which have some of the wines mentioned, with prices as well. Others should feel free to jump in, of course, if they see something cool on these lists not yet mentioned. And thanks again for all the good and helpful suggestions!

https://belcanto.pt/en/wines.aspx

https://www.almalisboa.pt/en/wines

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Re: Age-worthy, classic Portugese wines, not Port?

#24 Post by Eric Ifune » May 22nd, 2019, 3:47 pm

Some of the wines I've mentioned are very hard to find in the States. Of those that make it, not too much more expensive in the States.
Caves Sao Joao makes some good sparklers as well. If you ever visit the winery, a warren of stone bins with thousands and thousands of bottles and magnums of wine from the 60's-70's-80's-90's.
Don't forget to eat lots of cheese from Serra de Estrela. Also from the Dao but found everywhere. Many Port producers consider it the best cheese to go with their wines.

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Re: Age-worthy, classic Portugese wines, not Port?

#25 Post by Joshua Kates » May 23rd, 2019, 4:17 am

Eric Ifune wrote:
May 22nd, 2019, 3:47 pm
Some of the wines I've mentioned are very hard to find in the States. Of those that make it, not too much more expensive in the States.
Caves Sao Joao makes some good sparklers as well. If you ever visit the winery, a warren of stone bins with thousands and thousands of bottles and magnums of wine from the 60's-70's-80's-90's.
Don't forget to eat lots of cheese from Serra de Estrela. Also from the Dao but found everywhere. Many Port producers consider it the best cheese to go with their wines.
Thanks, Eric--will do!

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Re: Age-worthy, classic Portugese wines, not Port?

#26 Post by John J » May 23rd, 2019, 7:17 pm

Recently had a 1994 Caves São João Cabernet Sauvignon Quinta do Poço do Lobo that was like a comparable mature Bordeaux. Worth searching out.
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Re: Age-worthy, classic Portugese wines, not Port?

#27 Post by Joshua Kates » August 1st, 2019, 5:15 pm

Reviving this thread to offer notes on what I drank while in Portugal; thanks again to all who provided such helpful guidance.

Loco Restaurant
White
Porta dos Cavaleiros 1998 (Bical, Cerceal e Encruzado) Dao:
Upon opening appeared deep gold and it definitely showed traces of oxidation. This was set off by pear, notable minerality and depth, and a honied finish with some acidity that gave it cut. Got more interesting as it opened in the glass, and matched well with the food.

Red
Quinto Do Mondego 2007 (Alfrocheiro, Jaen, Tinta Roriz e Touriga Nacional) Dao: This was a very pretty, balanced wine—finish a bit clipped; it seemed like a classic Portugese red, great qpr (even in a restaurant) but less of a show stopper than the first. Rich mouth of blackberry and cacao, followed by a nick of tobacco and sweet tannin.

Dessert
Blandy´s Sercial 10 anos Madeira
Don’t drink much Madeira, this makes me wonder why I don’t. Drier than port, with lots going on: dried apricots, almonds, oxidation, but big and round in the mouth, quite satisfying.


BA Winebar
Whites
Casa de Mouraz 1996 (Field blend, including Encruzado, Malvasia Fina and 13 other grapes) Dao: This was lovely, not heavily oxidized; it had distinctive cut with some pear and green apple, and noticeable acidity in the finish that kept it fresh. Very happy with this.

Niepoort Tiara 09 (Códega, Rabigato, Donzelinho, Boal, Cercial and others) Douro: This was a heavier wine, with maybe a little RS. Quite round, some nice florals, finished a little short for my taste. Less minerality and cut than the former. So went to the next fairly fast.

Primado 2014(Encruzado) Dao: Really loved this; nice viscosity, deep white fruit, pear, though also a hint of pineapple. Still on the young side: acid, long finish.

Red
Sidonia de Sousa Baga 2005 (Baga) Barraida: Baga is a descendant or kinsman of nebbiolo, and this expression is a lovely wine. Light on its feet, good florals, similar to Neb, more roses, less tar, some tannin, but by no means a wall. Barolo dialed down a notch with, raspberry rather than cherry fruit. Great quaff—perhaps Baga rather than Nebbiolo should be planted up and down California? Tom Hill?

Mouchao VV 2002 (Alicante Bouschet) Alentejo: This was still way too young, Eric (Ifune) having purchased the sole bottle of the ’92, which nevertheless still appearedon the list. It showed much promise, with rich blueberry notes at the start, something more acidic and peppery followed with maybe a little fig, tailing off into a long and elegant finish. A broad-shouldered wine of character I would like to try again in ten years.

Belcanto
Luis Pato Informal Sparkling Wine NV (Baga) Barraida: Just lovely stuff, like a rose champagne—delicate, without being dilute. The florals and raspberry of the Baga lead in the nose and mouth, with the tiny bubbles and acidity combining nicely in the decently lomg finish. Lovely summer quaffer, if you could find it in the States.

Redoma Vinho Branco 1996(Rabigato, Códega do Larinho, Viosinho, Donzelinho and Gouveio) Douro: This was the best white of the trip. It combined very impressive substance with what seemed like shocking amount of minerality (though maybe that in part came from one the grapes?) Fruit was not lacking, on the white spectrum, peach, aprcot, green apple. Wonderfully stored bottle; we had sent back an earlier suggestion, a 1996 Frei Jaoa as it had seemed to us too oxidative, though the somm said it showed properly.

Quinta de Lemos 2006 (Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz, Jaen) Dao: This was built along the lines of a somewhat modern Bordeaux. It gave blue and black berry at the start, noticeable cacao, long finish with some minerality, maybe a little tobacco, though little acid. It was lovely, not overdone, and went well with the squab that we requested with our main.

Villa Oeiras Vinhave Vinho Generoso NV (Arinto, Galego Dourado, Ratinho) Carcavelos: This is a dessert wine, made in Carcavelos, not far from Lisbon. Labelled NV, somm said that it was 15 years old. It was magnificent, somewhere between port and vin santo. Hence, a little less sweet and more unctuous than port, with dried apricots accenting the porty flavors. It had noticeable viscosity in the mouth, with a lovely long finish of nuts and spice.

Romario de Baco (Sintra)
White
Viuva Gomes Branco 2017 (Malvasia) Colares/Collares (their spelling): This is quite young and initially somewhat closed, but as it opened showed great promise. Quite dry on the opening, leading with green-apple; the mid-palate is dense with a little spice and the finish supple, long, sneaky with acid and almost oyster shell/salinity.

Red
Viuva Gomes Tinto 2010(Ramisco) Colares/Collares It being lunch, with a steep climb ahead, Unberserker-like, we passed on the the 1931 at an apparently reasonable @250 Euro or 650 ml. For me, this wine when it breathed up in the glass sat between Bordeaux and Burgundy, while remaining wholly its own thing. Nevertheless at first sip it had the dark blackberry of cabernet similar density, but a wonderful aroma and mouthfeel of with violets and other florals in the mid-palate; it just sat in the glass and opened with lovely, very long elegant finish with maybe a touch of strawberry along with the sweet tannin.

Subsequent reflections:
Though late to the party, I concur with those who find Portuguese wines other than port to be the real deal. They are fascinating and complex, capable of giving sensuous pleasure while maintaining intellectual interest, which combination is part of wine’s appeal for me. These wines are also tremendously affordable, making them perfect for those starting out. You could easily build a rich and worthy cellar from them.

For more about the restaurants and wine bars named here, see my post under Travel. BA Wine Bar, fwiw, is a must visit for any berserker/oenophile—essentially a one-person show driven by a passionate, knowledgeable and quirky individual in a neighborhood perhaps the Portuguese equivalent to NYC’s east village.
Last edited by Joshua Kates on August 2nd, 2019, 4:35 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Age-worthy, classic Portugese wines, not Port?

#28 Post by Otto Forsberg » August 2nd, 2019, 3:35 am

Joshua Kates wrote:
August 1st, 2019, 5:15 pm
Redoma Vinho Branco 1996(Tinta Amarela, Touriga Francesca, Roriz) Douro
That sounds wrong. I doubt there are any white Redomas made from red varieties.
Joshua Kates wrote:
August 1st, 2019, 5:15 pm
Viuva Gomes Tinto 2010(Ramisco) Colares/Collares It being lunch, with a steep climb ahead, Unberserker-like, we passed on the the 1931 at an apparently reasonable @250 Euro or 650 ml.
That 1931 is one of the most remarkable Portuguese reds I've tasted. With any luck one could find it in a Garrafeira Nacional shop at half the price.

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Re: Age-worthy, classic Portugese wines, not Port?

#29 Post by Joshua Kates » August 2nd, 2019, 4:37 am

Otto Forsberg wrote:
August 2nd, 2019, 3:35 am
Joshua Kates wrote:
August 1st, 2019, 5:15 pm
Redoma Vinho Branco 1996(Tinta Amarela, Touriga Francesca, Roriz) Douro
That sounds wrong. I doubt there are any white Redomas made from red varieties.

Yes, you're right, of course, Otto,

I changed it (cut and paste must have gone awry). Just out of interest, have you had this wine (if not this vintage), did you get what I am calling minerality? If so, how do you account for it?

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Re: Age-worthy, classic Portugese wines, not Port?

#30 Post by Otto Forsberg » August 2nd, 2019, 5:16 am

Joshua Kates wrote:
August 2nd, 2019, 4:37 am
Yes, you're right, of course, Otto,

I changed it (cut and paste must have gone awry). Just out of interest, have you had this wine (if not this vintage), did you get what I am calling minerality? If so, how do you account for it?
Of older Redomas I've had only reds and one rosé. I've had only a few younger vintages of Redoma Branco and it has been consistently a bit too rich and oaky for my taste, but at the same time showing great potential for development in cellar. It seems to be a great white wine, but also one that seems to call for many years in bottle before the oak notes integrate well enough with the fruit.

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Re: 14 Portuguese wines, not Port?

#31 Post by Eric Ifune » August 2nd, 2019, 4:09 pm

The Luis Pato Informal does have an importer, D'Ourovino in Los Angeles. Unfortunately they are quite small and they sell mainly to restaurants (and to the Pennsylvania monopoly!) so sometimes hard to find their wines.

Villa Oeiras is the revitalized estate of the Marquis do Pombal. I like their Carcavelos a lot, both red and white. They do use newish oak, unusual for wood aged fortifieds.

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