Greetings one and all - I’m rather excited about tonight’s tasting, as for the first time in a while I’ll actually be sitting at my PC tasting along with you, rather than dropping the usual info-bomb before heading off to some ill-arranged alternative event.
So here is the aforementioned info-bomb - a little taster of information about the two wines we’ll be swirling, sniffing, sipping, swilling and spitting … (oops, sorry, day-job creeping in - scrub the last one!) together this evening.
Azevedo Loureiro-Alvarinho Vinho Verde 2018 12% £9.50
40 years ago Quinta de Azevedo, in the commune of Barcelos in the Vinho Verde region, was acquired by the major Portuguese wine company Sogrape Vinhos (whose brands include Mateus).
Over the next four years they restored the winery, the manor house and the vineyards, replanting we indigenous grape varieties (in particular Loureiro and Pedernã). There are now 40 ha of vines on the estate.
Winemaker António Braga has been at Sogrape since 2007, and is in overall charge of Sogrape’s Vinho Verde, Dão and Mateus wines.
Loureiro, is one of the typical grape varieties used in Vinho Verde. Alvarinho is the Portuguese spelling of albariño, also native to this north-western corner of the Iberian peninsula.
It is believed that the first Vinho Verde was brought to these shores in the 12th century, although the first commercially recorded imports were in 1788. In recent years, it has really come of age, though. From simple light gluggers (which still abound), there are also fine and more complex versions. We used to only stock one – the entry level Azevedo – but that has become too widely available and discounted. We now stock seven VVs (The Society’s Vinho Verde was the white at my daughter’s wedding this time last year).
More info about Vinho Verde can be found here.
They say: Clear and bright with young greenish tones. An expansive aroma, with notes of ripe mango, nectarine and hints of well-ripened citrus fruit. This fruitiness is also present on the palate, alongside a balanced acidity that provides great freshness, as well as balance. This wine has a harmonious, fruity finish. Food match: Cream of broccoli cappuccino (“Of course,” I hear you cry. “I have a bowl of it right in front of me!”)
We say: A new, smartly dressed blend from long-term supplier Quinta de Azevedo, combining this Portuguese region’s two most fragrant grapes. Light and delicate, this makes ideal summer drinking. Loureiro brings all those meadow scents, the alvarinho riper stone-fruit aromas and more body. Together they make for a beautifully balanced whole.
Time to switch to the red …
José de Sousa, Alentejano 2017 14.5% £10.95
The José de Sousa Rosado Fernandes Cellar was founded in 1878 and was purchased by José Maria da Fonseca in 1986. The latter is famous for ‘inventing’ moscatel de Setubal and for coming up with the brand Lancers (remember that?!), among other things.
The estate is located in Reguengos de Monsaraz.
Under the guidance of Domingos Soares Franco - the first Portuguese winemaker to graduate from the internationally-recognised University of Davis in California - a team of winemakers are responsible for undertaking a wide range of research, studies, experiments and innovation that make José Maria da Fonseca a pioneer in wine-making in Portugal and around the world.
Domingos Soares Franco
They own 20ha of vines, producing 125,000 litres (167,000 bottles) in total.
Here a 2.000 year old Roman tradition is kept alive. The José de Sousa Cellar owns 114 ceramic amphorae in which an ancient fermentation method takes place.
At the José de Sousa winery, the wine-making technique with talhas (amphorae) is still being used in a very similar way as it was 2.000 years ago.
In this wine, a small part is made according to this Roman process, the red grapes are destemmed by hand on at the ripanço (hackle / stripping) table before being foot-trodden. Afterwards, a small part of the must, skins and stems are fermented in talhas, and another part in lagares (concrete or stone troughs). The remainder of the brand is fermented in stainless steel tanks.
The use of talhas gives spices and a third dimension to the wine. After fermentation, this wine has a skin maceration of 4 weeks, followed by 9 months of ageing in French and American oak casks.
The blend is 58% Grand Noir, 22% trincadeira and 20% aragonès (tempranillo), and stored in optimal conditions can be cellared for up to 10 years.
When researching wines, this writer often turns to Jancis Robinson (#natch!). She has lots to say on JancisRobinson.com about one of the three grapes in the blend, but she is a little less wordy concerning the others! In ascending order in the blend …
Aragones / Tempranillo: 13 paragraphs extolling its virtues
Trincadeira: One line – “productive, rot-prone northern Portuguese vine”
Grand Noir: One line – “fortunately fast disappearing from the Languedoc and Cognac. High yield and red flesh.”
We say: One for the adventurous, made by the historic, ever innovative José Maria da Fonseca. This combines the rare pink-fleshed grand noir grape with Portuguese locals trincadeira and aragonez, partially fermented in clay amphorae, then aged for nine months in oak. Full-flavoured and spicy, yet with vivid, appetising fruit.