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Top Portuguese Estate Wines

by Tom Cannavan, 07/03

Long time visitor to wine-pages Luis Antunes was in Edinburgh from his Lisbon home for a conference, so what a great opportunity to meet up for dinner with a bunch of "forumites" from the UK Wine Forum. Luis rounded-up an amazing collection of Portugal's top table wines from his own cellar and thanks to António Torres of Symington, Dirk Niepoort, Xito Olazabal of Quinta Vale Meão, João Roseira & Luis Soares Duarte of Bago de Touriga, Rui Reguinga of Quinta dos Roques/Quinta de Pancas and Luis Duarte of Esporão and Quinta do Mouro. This was quite possibly the greatest collection of Portuguese table wines ever assembled outside of Portugal, and was a real privilige to attend. As is the nature of such evenings (and so many wines!) my notes were incomplete on three wines. I have asked Luis' permission to reproduce his notes on the three wines to complete the picture. They are marked "LA".

Some of these wines are unavailable in the UK, whilst others can be sourced from independent wine merchants.

White wines

Esporão Reserva Private Selection 2001 (Alentejo)
Big whiff of vanilla and full, fat, buttery oak and malolactic. Good fruit on the palate, though all masked by oak. Good level of acidity adds balance to the finish. Very Chardonnay-like.

Bago de Touriga Gouvyas Reserva 2000 (Douro)
Luis had decanted this for an hour or so. Deep yellow colour, and a lovely, if restrained nose of marzipan and orange. The palate is quite full, with an oaky background to pear fruit and a little spice. Quite long, but rather closed.

Red wines

Quinta da Arrancosa Merlot 2001 (Ribatejo)
Nice, commercial nose of black cherry and creamy oak. Good quality here, with a rather nice bittersweet quality of fruit and no jamminess. Quite savoury and mouthfilling.

Lavradores de Feitoria Três Bagos 2000 (Douro)
I took only very sparse notes on this: well-made, solid black fruit and ripe tannins.

Esporão Garrafeira Private Selection 2000 (Alentejo)
Slightly corked. Nevertheless revealing a complete aroma with good ripe fruit, a touch of oak-scented vanilla. Good extraction in mouth, not over done. Ripe tannins, good length, good acidity. Pity. (LA)

Quinta dos Roques Touriga Nacional 2000 (Dão)
This and the merlot were the only varietal wines here, with blends still reigning supreme in Portuguese winemaking. This has a lovely quality of black cherry and minerals on the nose, with a little earthy quality and some herbal notes. Chocolaty and deep on the palate, it is a little foursquare, but is savoury with solid black fruit and good length. This was one of the few wines brought by Luis that I knew, having been really impressed by the 1997.

Brunheda Vinhas Velhas 2000 (Douro)
This has a fine, tight, glossy blackcurrant fruit nose. There's an underpinning of oak. On the palate a very "international" style, with high extraction of sweet fruit and oak. Good quality.

Quinta do Mouro 2000 (Alentejo)
This has a lovely polished character with briar and cherry, and some sweeter black fruit. This has a fine, sinewy palate with tight, svelte tannins integrated beautifully with blackcurrant fruit and a wrapping of cedary, smoky wood. There's a lot of finesse and complexity here, with tiny floral nuances developing and fine balance.

Lavradores Feitoria Três Bagos Grande Escolha 2000 (Douro)
Big, plump, forward nose of blackberry and glossy cassis fruit, then a little edge of black olive and schist adds interest. Lots of coffee-bean, toasty oak fills out the background. Silky texture, and more of that modern-styled but very good quality of fruit and smoky oak. Good length.

Quinta de Pancas Premium 2000 (Estremadura)
Solid colour, dark ruby. Nose of black pepper, ripe red fruits, a dash of greenness, a touch of chocolate. Good complexity. In mouth it is well balanced, with a good length and equilibrium. Integrated wood, good tannin management, but a bit too international in style. (LA)

Bago de Touriga Gouvyas Cuvée OP 2000 (Douro)
Bittersweet dark cherry and liquorice nose, with a very attractive plumskin and blueberry depth, and little hints of violet. Quite aromatic. Silky mouthfeel, with firm fruit character and a very nice structure of tannins and acidity. Very classy stuff this.

Quinta do Vale Meão 2000 (Douro)
Slightly leafy, incense-like, smoke and schist character on the nose. Intriguing. Very dark, dense black fruit on the palate, with some dark chocolate and bitter plum skin flavours. Very juicy and attractive.

Poeira 2001 (Douro)
Nice ruby colour. Polished nose of fruit and minerals, very soft and classy sweet wood. In mouth it is very elegant and full of finesse. not overwhelmingly fruity, fine and discrete tannins, great acidity. Long finish. A suave Douro. (LA)

Chryseia 2001 (Douro)
Dark, muscular character on the nose, with polished wood, cedar and black fruit. Sweet and densely-packed with lithe, finely-wrought fruit on the palate. Tightly structured, with good concentration and a very focused, savoury character.

Dow Vintage Port 1980
Soft, inviting nose of almond, sweet honey-coated nuts and silky black fruit. Chocolate notes and a little hint of old roses. Very attractive, mellow Port. There's a very soft strawberry and raspberry sweetness on the palate with warming hints of tobacco and woodsmoke. Quite long, and drinking beautifully.