Another glorious winter’s day in the serra with clear blue skies. Temperatures below freezing at night and up to 10oC in the sunshine during the day. I spend the morning in the adega tasting my way through the 2010 vintage which has now completed malolactic. The wines are all very cold. In spite of having sold off some of my grapes there is still a huge amount of wine, including rather too much Pedra F., the wine that we set aside to sell off in bulk. Our best wine is the old vine Alicante Bouschet with inky black colour, bitter-sweet fruit and dense fine-grained tannins but on its own it would be one dimensional.
The old vine Tincadeira and Aragonez is in barrel and already marked by new oak, fresh, firm but somehow stretched compared to previous years, certainly when compared to 2009. The Touriga Nacional, Syrah/Viognier, destined to make Duas Pedras is lovely with good colour, fresh fruity flavours with surprising grip and tightly knit for a wine from such young vines. Likewise the Aragonez from the 2006 vines has good colour with lovely pure strawberry, raspberry and plum fruit characteristic of this grape if lacking a bit in weight. But the Alicante [planted in] 2003, despite having sold off the grapes from the deeper soils near thebarragem, is not as deep in colour as I would have expected and tastes a bit stretched though characteristically fresh and fruit driven.
The Trincadeira [planted in] 2000 however performed quite well. There is nothing herbaceous about it (a trait in Trincadeira): a fresh sappy fruit character although the tannins are quite light weight but over all it is promising for such young vines. I round off the tasting with another look at our Duas Pedras 2009 which we showed for the first time in London last week. With a good deep colour, it has lovely fruit-driven aromas and flavours, with floral Touriga Nacional dominating on the nose but the Touriga is sat on by the more demure Syrah on the palate. Without any oak it really shows the purity of the fruit from Quinta do Centro. I end the day in Lisbon at a Wine Bar recommended to me in the UK last week, called appropriately ‘Wine Bar do Castelo’ (it is right by the entrance to the Castelo de São Jorge).
These guys really know about wine (and they also know how to charge for it). I began with my favourite Vinho Verde, Quinta do Ameal which was absolutely delicious with a plate of salty ovelha (ewes milk cheese) and we followed this with a good, fairly solid, well-structured Douro red Conceito 2007. A taste of Rui’s Rhone-like Tributo 2008 (Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre and Viognier from the Ribatejo) was followed by an impressively fresh, nervy dry 1912 Madeira from a grower in Seixal on the north side of the island (probably Sercial). If you have a hour or two to spare after 2pm when they open (closed all day on Tuesday), I recommend a visit to the Wine Bar do Castelo and am grateful to the person in London who commended it to me last week.
19 - 20 An outstanding wine (*****)
17 – 18 An excellent wine in its class, highly recommended (****)
15 - 16 A good wine, with much to recommend it (***)
13 - 14 An enjoyable but simple, straightforward wine (**)
10 – 12 A very ordinary wine without faults but with no great merit (*)
8 - 10 Disagreeable (no stars)
Below 8 Faulty