There were two reasons - firstly to thank branch manager, Matt, for his recent recommendations that had gone down well at a work do, secondly to try the wines of the week, both from the titular Bacalhoa.
Entering the shop, I learn that Matt is off making deliveries and has left the shop in the care of two deputy managers who have put on some Latin music and managed to set off the alarm but can't get through to the security company for the reset code; bringing a bored three-year-old into the shop just adds to the sense of unreality.
take it all in my stride - YoungMan is less impressed and wants to go home, but I start with the white, a mixture of Fernão Pires, Tamarez and Rabo de Ovelha and Chardonnay. I have no idea of what the three indigenous grapes are supposed to taste like and what each brings to the blend.
However, the end result is a harmonious and balanced, smooth, lemony wine with some buttery creaminess and a touch of gentle oak. It's very good, in a quietly confident, unassuming sort of way. Classy, not grandstanding.
We move on to what I first thought / feared was a rosé (a la Mateus), but turns out to be a fortified wine made from Muscat - normally, one of the few grape varieties I would go out of my way to avoid. But this is delicious - "rich, raisiny and fruity. Inviting nose; sweet, rich and powerful. Good length. Golden colour, intense aromas - orange zest, raisins, figs and walnuts. Rich and full bodied." The tasting note says it all; it also has a gold medal from the IWC (2006) and the 1999 vintage has just won a gold and the slightly clumsily-named International Fortified Muscat Trophy.
Footnote, December 2010
The Moscatel also appears in the CFWS IWC Tasting here (I fail to spot it !!!).
Bacalhoa Catarina Branco 2008, £7.99
Bacalhoa Moscatel de Setubal 2002/03, £8.95
Cambridge Wine Merchants - http://www.cambridgewine.com/
Bacalhoa Winery - http://www.bacalhoa.com/
International Wine Challenge - http://www.internationalwinechallenge.com/
Results for Bacalhoa Moscatel de Setubal 1999 - http://www.internationalwinechallenge.com/wine/131808/2010/Bacalh%c3%b4a-Moscatel-De-Set%c3%babal.aspx