Colares 2005, Manuel José Colares, Fundação Oriente *** / ****

This is a highly unusual wine which I was delighted to see had made its way onto the Wine Society’s most recent fine wine list. Colares, on the coast north-west of Lisbon, is a place for incurable wine romantics (like myself). The wines are grown in the sand dunes close to the cliff tops on this wild and frequently wind-swept coast. The sand resists phylloxera so the vines are still planted on their own roots rather than being grafted on to American root stock. The region’s principal red grape variety, Ramisco, is also unique producing fine, fragrant wines with a fresh raspberry character when give the opportunity to perform. The problem is that over the past few decades, wine- making has been monopolised by the antiquated local co-operative and the wines have generally been rasping, astringent and fruitless. This wine is the result of a brave investment in the 1980s by the now defunct Carvalho Ribeiro & Ferriera. Sold on by Cockburn in 1999, it was acquired by a charitable foundation the Fundação Oriente who took three years to replant 9 hectares of vineyard. This now accounts for nearly half of the entire Colares DO which, at its peak early last century laid claim to 1,500 hectares. Portuguese nineteenth century author Eça de Quieroz described Colares as 'the most French wine in Portugal'.Jo Locke MW, Portuguese buyer for the The Wine Society describes this in similarly international terms ‘recalling the savoury flavours of Italy and the sweeter strawberry notes and silky texture of Pinot Noir, with a touch of Nebbiolo-like tannin’. I can’t disagree with that but my own note reads as follows: mid-deep colour, pink with just a touch of brown on the rim; fragrant, gentle, fresh raspberry-like aromas with just a touch of savoury old wood; slightly attenuated, firm, a touch of characteristic Atlantic astringency, dusty tannins, raspberry fruit with sinewy tannic length, quite elegant. Probably the best Colares for 50 years!  16.5   


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