I could have picked a lot worse places to celebrate entering my fourth decade on the planet than Lisbon, a city that lives up to its status as a European capital city. Much alcohol and little sleep was enjoyed over the weekend, and many visits to the Bairro Alto part of the old town as well. Whilst it was nice having five days off from the wine as I celebrated my 30th birthday, it was almost relief to get back into the familiar territory of visiting wine regions. The only problem with that idea is the fact that I know almost nothing about Portuguese wine, even the most famous one of all, port. I’m always up for a challenge, and relished the chance to learn about a country not really appreciated outside their borders, mostly because they aren’t great at promoting their regionally distinct premium wines, and partly because most of the good stuff is consumed within the country. I chose to visit only three regions which represent the top quality wines and are all in the northern part of the country within Oporto, the second largest city. The first was the coastal region of Bairrada, which has been known for its sparkling wines for many years but is starting to gain recognition for its red wines made from the indigenous baga variety.
|Traditional method sparkling wines at Sidonio de Sousa
Barrel tasting with Luis;
The bical had wonderful structure and balance, not going purely for fruit notes. At 13% alcohol it was mouth-filling but had great minerality and extension on the palate.
The baga wines varied between barrels, the sandy soils tended to have more focused structure and tannins through the middle of the palate, brighter more restrained red fruits and purity, as well as some subtle spice and pepper characters. The chalky clay soils were a little fuller and broader with darker fruit, less spice and more tannin but in a more mellow profile.
The touriga nacional was soft and full, quite grippy in tannins and good concentration, full and expressive without the same structure and ageing potential as the baga wines.
Finished wines with lunch;
Casta Baga Bruto 2010
A nice dark pink colour. Good texture and weight, bright berry fruit, fresh finish. Balance and liveliness.
Vinhas Velhas 2010 (cerceal, sercialinho)
Light pale fruit aromatics. Fresh lime Riesling influenced fruit with a little more depth and character, less minerality. Fresh vibrant but wonderful character.
Vinha (vineyard) Pan 2008 (baga chalky-clay soil)
Very tight on the palate, aromatically a little off, focus light palate, not expressing much, I don’t think the bottle is showing well.
|Luis started this cellar after a visit to Melbourne in 2002