A Day In the Douro (Part 1)

  At the very end of vintage I spent a day in the Douro with Jancis Robinson, tasting wines from some of the leading producers in the Cima Corgo.  It was a clear, warm, sunny day (the last before heavy rain fell) and many of the tastings were conducted outside in the vineyard with breathtaking views of the Douro and its tributaries, the Torto and Pinhão rivers.  With heavy rain already having fallen at the end of September, the River Pinhão was already a gushing torrent and this was the only sound that could be heard on the terrace at Quinta da Manoella. The following notes represent the highlights from a day of tasting with Dirk Niepoort, Ana Rato and Teresa Ameztoy of Ramos Pinto, Jorge and Sandra Serodio Borges and Jorge Moreira.  There are notes on one or two quirky,  historic wines.  

Niepoort

Projectos, Bairrada 2011 ***/****

This doesn’t belong to the Douro. It comes from the 17ha Quinta de Baixo bought by Niepoort, 95% Baga with 80-120 year old vines, fermented entirely on the stems: lovely nose, firm and restrained with a touch of wild berry; more characteristically Baga on the palate, wild berries in a hedgerow, ripe tightknit tannins. Very promising.   16.5

Redoma 1996 *** / **** 

I admit to not being convinced by the ageing capacity of some Douro reds, especially those of the first wave from the 1980s and 1990s. This however restored my faith: mid-deep and still youthful in colour with a pink rim; intense, just a touch leathery with good fruit underlying; lovely sweet, firm fruit on the palate, a touch of leathery rusticity but standing up very well indeed after 16 years. 16.5

Robustus 1990 **** 

From grapes grown at Quinta do Carril, bottled in April 1994: still deep and youthful in colour; lovely fresh, spicy-peppery fruit; big, ripe and open, cherry stone fruit with a touch of sweetness, deep and concentrated with a powerful tannic backbone, a fine streak of acidity lending the wine finesse and poise. Impressively powerful mature Douro red.  18  

Ramos Pinto 

Duas Quintas Branco 1994  **** 

I am even less convinced by the ageability of Douro whites than reds but this fairly modest blend of Rabigato, Viosinho and Arinto is remarkable: old yellow-gold; ripe tropical fruit on the nose, fresh and peachy still fresh and beautiful with apricots and cream on the finish.  17

 Duas Quintas Branco Reserva 2012 ****

70% Rabigato, 10% each of Folgosão, Viosinho and Arinto .  grapes picked as early as 1st August to preserve acidity, 25% barrel fermented. Toasty but taut and restrained with lovely soft toast and butter flavours, good balance and texture.  17

Duas Quintas Tinto 2011 *** 

45% Touriga Nacional, 20% Touriga Francesa, 5% each of Tinta de Barca, Tinta Barroca, Tinto Cão, Sousão and Tinta Amarela, 20% aged in barrel, Austrian and French oak: deep youthful crimson colour; lovely floral Touriga Nacional aromas, fresh and perfumed; sappy berry fruit with a firm dusting of tannin, quite tight knit for a wine at this price level with a firm finish.  16 

Tinto Cão 1981

A rare varietal from Quinta do Bom Retiro, vines planted in the mid-1970s: still deep at the centre with a thin brown rim; very much alive with tar and leather on the noseç lovely ripe, supple fruit, savoury, leather and sweet, full, rich and long if a bit rustic on the finish kept fresh by the acidity. Difficult to put a mark to but a historic wine! 

Duas Quintas Reserva 1992  *** 

80% Touriga Nacional with Tinta Barroca, 12 months in Portuguese and French oak,  just 12.5% abv: retaining good colour, a bit stewed on the nose, coffee, chocolate and prunes; soft, fleshy and mature, ripe, naturally sweet fruit, now drying out a little on the finish leaving dusty tannins. This has aged very well for a modestly priced wine! 15 

Duas Quintas Reserva Especial 1995 **** 

From centenarian vines at Quinta do Bom Retiro, 36 varieties apparently, 14.5% abv. The first vintage of this blockbuster wine:  deep colour, heady aromas, ripe, full and Porty; big, ripe minty fruit, full, chocolately and Port-like, lovely ripe tannins with good texture and length. 17

Duas Quintas Reserva Especial 2007 **** / *****  

Deep in colour; deep and dense on the nose, brooding dark chocolate intensity, rather like a vintage Port; very rich and intense, fleshy fruit, big and powerful with lovely, Porty berry fruit and ripe tannins extending onto the finish. Rich, intense and long.  18.5

Duas Quintas Reserva 2011 **** 

A blend of 60% Touriga Nacional with Touriga Franca and Tinta de Barca:  deep, totally opaque; still closed with underlying rich, naturaly sweet fruit and integrated new oak, firm, fine grained tannins and lovely vibrant fruit with grip all the way through on the finish 17 

Wine and Soul (notes to follow) 

 Jorge Moreira (notes to follow)

Scoring

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