A Couple of Portuguese Wines

Header-image-StephenBy Robert K Stephen (CSW)

(TORONTO, ON) – Different vintages with far different results. As I progress in my wine education and experience, the most informative and educational tastings are with the producers in their home setting. Although wine is about taste, it is also about memories. One memory is meeting with Vicente Leite Faria in the Douro hills in November 2012.

All my tasting in my week in the Douro that year were very corporate focused on corporate warehouses or Quintas (estates). Vicente met me in a bed and breakfast in the Douro Hills and we shared a simple meal of boiled cabbage, pork, and potatoes, trying four or so of his wines.

My original article.

Perhaps the neutral location was because Vicente is a virtual winemaker using sourced grapes and third party wine facilities to make his wine. I rated the 2011 Animus an 85/100.

The 2013 has a purple black colour. Appealing nose of black cherry, plum, smoke, and Fig Newton cookies.

The palate rather struggles to deliver, but there is some plum and raisin pie. The acidity and tannins are perfectly neutralized so it is somewhat difficult to identify them, which is not a mark of excellent wine. Like a dog, the wine has been neutered.

As a big fan of the Douro, this wine saddens me. (Animus 2013, Douro D.O.C., Vicente Leite de Faria, Oporto, Portugal, 750 mL, 13%, LCBO #385302, $14.95, Square Media Group Rating 81/100). I recall 2013/14 were no great years for wine in the EU. That seems obvious with this vintage. It’s a bit difficult to low-rate a wine when you have met and been entertained by the producer. But in this case the palate rules over emotion.

QuetzalThere is more to Portugal than the Douro and in this case it’s a wine from the Alentejano region, which starts just above the tourist-choked Algarve. You know, lots of Brits, pubs, and baked beans for breakfast. Beautiful, but shit cold Atlantic water on their beaches.

The Quinta do Quetzal Guadalupe sounds like a Mexican church service but it whups the Animus big time.

Purple-black in colour. Heady aromas of dark black plum, ultra rich black cherry, luscious black cherry liqueur, reminiscent of the black cherry liqueur from Obidos.

Dusky and dusty tannins keep the decadent fruit in place while the mouth is coated with black cherry and dark fruit. The epitome of decadence held in check by tannins.

Medium finish. Drink up until 2020. A case worthy wine for red wine lovers. (Quinta do Quetzal, Winemaker’s Selection Tinto 2010, Vinho Regional Alentejano, 14.5%, 750 mL, LCBO #408138, $16.95, Square Media Group Rating 93/100).

The secret weapon of Alentejano wines, Alicante Bouschet, is in the mix with Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. I’d rate Alicante Bouschet a secret weapon that may just overcome the red wines from the Douro one day.

It adds incredible richness and fruit to red blends. A huge value proposition for all red wine drinkers. Of course, a subliminal mix with black pig from the Alentejano which, I am afraid, you’ll have to go to Portugal to try.

And may I say, if you are ever in Guincho, outside of Estoril, at the Fortaleza do Guincho Relais en Chateau, they will no doubt have Alentejano black pig on the menu. The best dining room in Portugal.

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About the Author

Robert Stephen (CSW)
Robert K Stephen writes about food and drink, travel, and lifestyle issues. He is one of the few non-national writers to be certified as a wine specialist by the Society of Wine Educators, in Washington, DC. Robert was the first associate member of the Wine Writers’ Circle of Canada. Be it Spanish cured meat, dried fruit, BBQ, or recycled bamboo place mats, Robert endeavours to escape the mundane, which is why he loves The Square. His motto is, "Have Story, Will Write."Email Robert Stephen
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