My Vineyard Blog - November 2011
Quinta do Centro – Blog Diary
Living the Dream
‘What gives our dreams their daring is that they can be realized’ Le Corbusier
To London: on a cold Monday evening over 300 members of the Wine Society congregate at the Merchant Taylor’s Hall in the City to taste Portuguese wines. No other wine merchant in the UK, perhaps in the world, could put on such a show with 49 Portuguese wines here to taste. There is a sideroom where a few journalists are tasting quietly before the main event. For me the highlights are a lovely minerally dry Douro white from Lavradores de Feitoria, a relatively inexpensive (£8.95) pure, unoaked Touriga Nacional from Castello d’Alba (sounds Italian), a savoury well-integrated oaked Touriga called Vinhas do Lasso from Alenquer and Quinta Vale D. Maria 2008, a well-structured yet fine-grained Douro classic. There were some good Ports too (see relevant section of this website for details). Then the onslaught as I stand pouring our own wines to over 300 people for a couple of hours. I receive excellent feedback for Duas Pedras 2009 which is on show to the public for the first time and it is gratifying that a number of people come back to tell me it is their favourite wine in the tasting. Pedra Basta 2008 also shows well. With its oak-age I find it tasting more Rioja-like over time, part of its appeal at this consumer tasting I think. It is to be hoped that enthusiasm I pick up here converts itself into pre-Christmas sales of Portuguese wine.
There is a Portuguese saying that goes ‘no dia de São Martinho vai à adega e prova o teu vinho’ (on St Martin’s Day go to the winery and taste your wine). There is some sense in this as by São Maritinho (11th November) your wines are likely to have gone through malo-lactic and they are ready to assess. So this morning I was in the adega and I did just that; I tasted all our wines from the 2011 vintage. I can report that they are looking good and some are very good. The weakest, as I expected, was the Trincadeira from the younger vines which we harvested a bit too early in retrospect. It is elegant but rather too light and short. (I have love-hate relationship with this grape which is fast turning to hate–hate!). The Alicante Bouschet (2003 vines) on the other hand is wonderful; dark, fresh, vibrant with lovely depth and structure. The Aragonez from the young vines (2006) isn’t bad either, fresh, aromatic, attractive if a little lacking in depth. The Syrah /Touriga Nacional / Viognier, now blended and in the same vat, is dark, already delicious and well structured. It will make a wonderful Duas Pedras 2011. The best wines come from my old vines with the Aragonez still showing signs of the malo-lactic on the nose but tastes firm and four-square with good ripe tannins. Our best wine without doubt is the old vine Alicante Boushet / Grand Noir / Trincadeira blend which has a wonderfully fresh, vibrant aroma, shows sweet ripe fruit and broad ripe tannins. A certain candidate for Pedra e Alma 2011 I think.
This afternoon, forgetting all about São Martinho, I went to the chemist in Castelo de Vide where I was offered roasted chestnuts and a glass of their homemade liqueur. I politely refused the liqueur but the lady pharmacist was most insistent and handed me a glass nonetheless. So I quickly downed this sweet, green liqueur made from under-ripe walnuts and I left the chemist feeling a bit wobbly but much better than when I went in!
It is with great honour and pleasure that I can announce that our wine, Pedra Basta 2008, was served at a dinner hosted by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge at St. James’s Palace last night. The dinner held on the eve of Remembrance Day was in aid of the National Memorial Arboretum in