Up early to accompany the picking of our vinha velha, brought forward by two days due to the weather forecast. Fortunately the sun was shining brightly and it was a cool, clear morning. I had a pre-arranged lunch meeting with a Pepe Mota Capitão who grows both grapes and rice in two very different terroirs at Herdade de Portocarro in the Sado valley south of Setúbal. As I came down from the Serra I found myself under a blanket of fog and by the time I reached Monforte about 30km from here, it was grey and drizzling. On my way towards Lisbon I went through sun and more thick coastal fog yet at Portocarro it was a warm sunny day and we ate a long lunch outside. Pepe has a wonderfully eclectic range of wines from 15 hectares of vineyard at Portocarro and another 2ha on the Serra de Grandola. I have never really considered this area of the Alentejo as wine country (it is officially Peninsula de Setúbal). But Pepe explained that it was quite important in the days before Salazar ordered the uprooting of vineyards in his quest to increase the production of cereals. One of the grapes lost to the region at the time was Galego Dourado, a white variety known now (if it is known at all) as a constituent of fortified wine Carcavelos. Pepe has two hectares (out of a total of six in the world) and is now making a deliciously, smoky-flinty varietal wine. He also has Sangiovese and alongside a classically styled red, he has made the palest and freshest of Sangiovese rosés (in fact more gris than rosé). Pepe’s wife Teresa is the great grandaughter of Bernardino Cincinnato da Costa, author of the magnum opus on Portuguese grape varieties Portugal Vinicola. It seems fitting that he is bringing new life to Galego Dourado.
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