I have a visit from João Torres, a viticultural consultant in the Alentejo for the past thirty-five years. We take a look at the corner of the vineyard that was re-grafted from Cinsault four years ago. At the time we thought we were grafting Grand Noir to complement the Alicante Bouschet already in the vineyard but it has transpired that we have a mish-mash of different varieties. The grafts were taken from old vines nearby and, as well as Grand Noir we have Castelão, Aragonez, Alicante Boushet as well as some unidentifiable red and white grapes. We also still have some Cinsault from vines where the grafts have not taken. In short we have much the same mixture of grapes that might be found in any centenarian vineyard around here. So I have my own patch of old vines! I asked João Torres about a red-fleshed variety called Grand Noir which is present in all the old vineyards around here. He tells me that the full name is Grand Noir de la Calmette, a red grape created by Henri Bouschet as a cross between Aramon and Petit Bouschet. The grape was named after the vineyard where it was it was developed at, Domaine de la Calmette. It was almost certainly brought to the Alentejo by the Reynolds family who also introduced Alicante Bouschet to Herdade de Mouchão in the nineteenth century but has not proved to be as popular as it is more susceptible to powdery mildew. Mystery solved!
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