Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Vinha do Alqueve, Vinho Regional Ribatejano, Portugal

Well, I've always said that I'm just a "student-of-wine" and so then it is to be expected that I have a great many questions.

Pinhal da Torre, Portugal
     Today I am studying the wines of Portugal, and not the fortified type. Not that I don't love a great fortified wine (as many know I do), but because there is so much more to the wine-story of Portugal now and I want to learn!

     Touriga Nacional must be the first grape I learned about from Portugal: a grape that people have compared to Cabernet Sauvignon in that it has depth, tannin and structure, but usually needs something else to sort of "fill-out" the flavor profile. I've seen it married with Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Franc, and many others (Portuguese varietals of course). Here is where the question comes in...

     The wine in question today is the Vinha do Alqueve from Pinhal da Torre in the region of Ribetejano, Portugal ( http://www.pinhaldatoree.com/ ). This winery does all sorts of things to maximise quality; they hand-pick their grapes, pick their grapes early in the morning before the heat has a chance to diminish the quality of the picked fruit, etc. Why then, do you imagine, they would leave the stems on the grapes whilst in primary fermentation? To increase tannins I would naturally answer, but then, why do that for a grape that is already high in tannins? Unless that's just because that is how they enjoy that wine in that region. Could be.

     In any case, I was at my local BCLDB (BC Liquor Store) and inquired about Portuguese wines and this was what I got steered onto.

2006 Vinha do Alqueve, Pinhal da Torre
Ribatejano, Portugal
13% ABV, $10.99    **EXCELLENT VALUE**
varietalsTrincadeira, Tinta Roriz, Touriga Nacional, Cabernet Sauvignon, Touriga Franca

  • visual:     clean; deep garnet core with slight cherry rim
  • nose:     clean; moderate+ intense and developed aromas; leathery oak, deep bruised plums, slightly jammy blackberries, mineral terroir, white pepper spice, cherry blossoms throughout
  • palate:     clean; dry, moderate++ (red currant) acids, moderate+ (soft, slightly grippy) tannins, moderate body, moderate+ ABV, moderately intense and developed flavors mimicking the nose; French oak comes out first, followed by red currants, red and black raspberries, slightly jammy blackberries, backbone of meatiness. Moderate body, moderate+ to fully developed structure, full length on the palate (for the price)
  • conclusion:   This wine completely over-delivers. For $11 in BC I get a wine and I just hope its balanced - nothing else. This wine has length, balance, structure, nuances... if I was charged $20 I would still say that it was a Very Good Value. However, drink now - this wine doesn't have long left in it.
  • PAIRINGS:   Strong acids mean it can be paired with some fattier foods like cheese, richer sausages, pate... strong tannins mean fuller flavored cuts of meat. I would pair this with cured meats and cheese, fresh bread. The alcohol is in check so feel free to use a bit of spice as well, and the spice will enhance many notes in the wine

     Great wines being produced on the other side of the world for $11... simply marvellous! It makes me more then a little curious to taste their $40 wines. Colleagues tell me that the value-for-money never changes, and that Portugal is really out-doing itself these days... reshaping how we view their wine making skills.

CIN-CIN~!!!   SLAINTE~!!!   CHEERS~!!!

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