Such is the importance of wine at Arruda, a town north of Lisbon, that it has the epithet ‘dos Vinhos’ in its title. It gained fame in the 1980s and 1990s due to its large co-operative which produced large quantities of tolerably good red wine that ended up on the shelves of British supermarkets. The co-ops have lost much of their dominance since then and it has been encouraging to find single estates breaking out on their own. One such is Monte Bluna, 6 hectares of 40 year old vineyard located on an airy knoll at Moinho do Céu near Arruda. The vines are grown on limestone-clay soils which seems to suit Aragonez (aka Tinta Roriz / Tempranillo), a variety that is uncommon in a region where Castelão, Camarate and Tinta Miuda are the traditional grapes. The area is strongly influenced by its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean but protected to the north by the Serra de Montejunto. In the past wines could be lean and astringent, reflecting high yields and heavy-handed wine making. This wine is of a different order and shows the finesse that Arruda is capable of. Monte Bluna is a property to watch.
Bluníssima Aragonez 2017 ****
Deep youthful crimson in colour; refined with tight-knit hedgerow fruit on the nose and palate, gravelly tannins, well-integrated savoury-smoky oak (the wine spent a year in seasoned French (87%) and American oak) leading to a broad, balanced finish. Drink now and over the next five years. 17.
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