Sunday, July 1, 2018

The Portuguese Preview

This Thursday at 5pm Rose Adams of Aveleda of Portugal leads us in a tasting of four new wines in her portfolio.  Last year Aveleda bought wineries in the Alentejano DOC in southeastern Portugal and in the northern Douro DOC, the finest wine venue in the country.  Those wines are just now making an appearance in our marketplace.  Aveleda, itself, is located in the Minho DOC in the northwestern corner of the country, home to the great seafood wines Vinho Verde and Alvarinho.  Here's a preview of next Thursday's tasting.

The 2017 Assobio Branco is a fresh and aromatic, straw-colored, light dry steel barrel-aged white with citric and tropical fruit flavors.  The indigenous grapes are handpicked from high altitude vineyards in Douro and lend themselves to lighter fare like salads, seafood or tapas.  Assobio means "whistle" and refers to the sound the wind makes through these high altitude north facing vineyards.

The 2016 Esperao Reserva is sourced from select vineyards of indigenous grape varieties in Alentejano.  Vinification includes cold settling with skin maceration in stainless steel tanks before ageing on the lees in new oak barrels.  Yellow fruits, minerality, toast and spices dominate the palate in this fresh aromatic white.  The flavors are long and balanced within a creamy structure.

The 2016 Assobio Red is sourced from the same high altitude vineyards as the companion white listed above.  These indigenous grape varieties produce a fresh versatile summer food-friendly light red wine.  Touriga Nacional is the primary grape in the blend and it is handpicked before a temperature controlled pre-fermentation cold soak followed by pressing and fermentation.  Aging is done in both steel and oak barrels.

The 2014 Esperao Reserve Red is the flagship wine of this Alentejo winery and features handpicked Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon and a couple indigenous varieties resulting in a rich ripe spicy, red fruit wine with a subtle oak presence.  Each grape type is fermented separately in temperature controlled steel tanks before a malolactic fermentation which is then followed by a year of oak barrel ageing.  The wine is textured, dense and full-bodied with structured tannins making it a candidate for ageing in the cellar.

Categorically Portuguese wines need to be considered in their own right.  Too often they fall into the "other" category or are seen as "value wines" when actually they should be seen as wonderful dinner wines suitable for a number of occasions.  Rose Adams, by the way, is someone I have known in the trade for at least twenty-five years so please join us for the tasting and expect an education in the process!

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