Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Whilst on the subject of the Iberian Peninsula..... A brilliant 20 year-old Portugese red wine

After 2 or 3 recent posts all about Rioja, you'd think it was time for me to write about French wine for once(!) But here's a post about another wine from the Iberian Peninsula that really hit the spot recently.

As I have mentioned before on this blog, one of my "house wines" over the last few years has been Luis Pato Vinho de Mesa Tinto - several cases of the stuff, in fact, picked up for a song at a certain well-known auction house. Most of those were from the 1990 vintage, though I also found a couple of cases of 1991. And not a single bottle of either vintage has ever disappointed. The pleasure of drinking good wine with 20 or so years of age on it that doesn't cost the earth is not to be underestimated - such finds are rare in this day and age, especially as auction prices for mature wines seem to have held up remarkably well, even during this protracted economic crisis. So imagine my surprise when a local wine supplier to the trade offered a small-ish consignment of another mature Portugese red wine, again at a price that wouldn't break the bank. I just had to try it - and I was not disappointed.........

Quinta do Poco do Lobo Bairrada 1991
A blend of 3 indigenous Portugese grape varieties, predominantly Baga, with small amounts of Castelão and Moreto, aged in small old oak barrels. The colour is a lovely medium carmine at the core, fading gradually to a pale orange/mahogany rim. Even at 20 years old, there is still plenty of fruit on the nose, with delightful aromas of wild red berries and bramble, not to mention a veritable host of floral and secondary notes such as forest floor, tar and cedar. Subtle hints of violets, peppermint, herbs and spices add yet more complexity. The flavours are equally worthy of contemplation, with those complex aromas showing through on the palate, allied to peppery spice, grippy but softening tannins (Baga is famous for its tannic structure – hence its ageing potential) and mouth-watering acidity. The finish is long, dry and deliciously “sweet and sour”. In fact, I loved it so much that I opened a second bottle the following day, just to convince myself that it was indeed as good as I first thought! I have since gone back and snapped-up the remaining handful of cases - some to keep for our own consumption and some for my more adventurous customers. It isn't a simple quaffer, and that firm tannic structure means it is a wine that demands food, though you needn’t be too choosy about what to drink it with – I can imagine it pairing equally well with red meats, spicy sausages, all manner of Italian tomato-based sauces, pizzas and mushroom dishes. For a 20 year-old wine, from what is a relatively obscure but very highly-regarded denomination, this is a real cracker. And at £12.95 a bottle, it is a bargain - you can find it in the Portugal section of the Leon Stolarski Fine Wines online shop. I promise you will not be disappointed.

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