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Sunday 2 October 2011

Oakley Wine Agencies at Boutique Wineries‏

Portugal is a country I keep hearing good things about as a new oenological kid on the viticultural block, but whose wines I feel I have not yet fully "got".

A while ago I put down some thoughts on what Portugal should or could do to establish itself more in the popular UK consciousness; in short, my feeling is that Portugal needs to focus on native grapes, quality and not quantity and educate the world as to what its wines, regions and native grapes are like.

Keen to further my own education - not least to try and work out what all the fuss is about - I sampled an extensive range of Portuguese wines at the recent Boutique Wineries Tasting in London with Oakley Wine Agencies who specialise in Portugal and north west Spain.

We started with a couple of whites - the Quinta De Sant'Ana Fernao Pires 2010 was fragrant and peachy - the first time I have had this grape as a single varietal.

Their Riesling 2009 was a dead ringer for an Australian version, in the lean and limey way that Clare Valley in particular does.

The Pinot Noir 2009 was dark for a Pinot with good texture, but atypical with simple fruit and not complex.

The Entra Serras 2009, a blend of Trincadeira, Tinto Roriz and Tinto Barocca had a cherry and liquorice nose, cherry fruit on the palate and a rounded and soft feel.

With prominent acidity and grip on the finish, it is a food wine much more than a quaffer - like most of the reds here, in fact.

The TNT 2010, a blend of Touriga Nacional and Trincadeira had a slightly bretty, funky nose (which I rather liked) and felt bigger, fuller and more densely inky than the previous wine.

The Almeida Garrett 2007 Touriga Nacional also had a bretty / funky nose, but was fresh and lively on the palate with bramble fruit and a dense texture.

The Pomares 2009 felt really well-made and lively with a mixture of cherry fruit, green peppers and earthiness.

The Quinta Nova unoaked red 2009 was dark purple in the glass, with ripe elderberry fruit and a soft, yet weighty and full palate.

The Quinta Nova Grainha 2009 was well-structured and dense and felt much too early to be drinking now.

At my first tasting of Portuguese wines many years ago, my overall impression of the reds was that they are reminiscent of Austrian wines with simple cherry fruit, a touch of pepperiness, prominent acidity and a grippy finish.

That still seems to be the case, and the reds from both countries, whilst technically well-made, tend to feel focused and perhaps a touch lean, compared to the more rounded, mouthfilling style of, say, Bordeaux.

A closer comparison is with Italian wines, such as Chianti, which don't really make any sense except with food.

And whilst I was impressed with the quality and texture of many of the reds here (especially as most retail for under £10), I still don't feel quite fully won over - there's respect, yes, but not love just yet.

I finished off with a couple of Spanish wines; the Orellan Godello 2009 (another new variety) had an aromatic and fragrant nose with a focused structure.

The Esencial Organic Red 2008 from 100% Mencia was dense with dark black and red berry fruit, liquorice and earthiness.

It felt really fresh, mouthfilling and vibrant with good grip.

Recommended wine

The quality here, as I have noted, was very high, especially considering the price range of £8 - £16 with most around £10.

I will definitely be trying more Portuguese wines - perhaps specifically with food next time, but my recommended wine is the Spanish Esencial Organic Red (£10.99) for its vibrancy and density.


Oakley Wine Agencies - http://www.oakleywineagencies.co.uk/
Boutique Wineries - http://www.boutique-wineries.co.uk/

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