Thursday, April 23, 2009

A Portuguese wine tasting in Billericay

Earlier this week I introduced 27 people to the joys and delights of the wines of Portugal or, rather, showed them eight wines, as a number of the tasters often travel to that lovely country, and several have tasted Portuguese wines with me before and enjoyed them in my wine club cases.

The spacious first floor room I’d hired at the Village Bar and Grill, conveniently situated on Billericay High Street, was bathed by the rays of the late afternoon sun. It was a good start as I always look better with a light behind me, as the Judge sang about the plaintiff, Angelina, in Gilbert and Sullivan’s Trial by Jury:

The rich attorney, he jumped with joy,
And replied to my fond professions:
"You shall reap the reward of your pluck, my boy,
At the Bailey and Middlesex sessions.
You'll soon get used to her looks," said he,
"And a very nice girl you will find her!
She may very well pass for forty-three
In the dusk, with a light behind her!"

Some were expecting to see rosés in bottles suitable for lampshades but weren’t too disappointed when they weren’t to be found. Instead we tasted two whites and six reds which were all made with Portuguese grape varieties with the occasional addition of international varieties. The names are difficult, and often awkward to pronounce let alone remember, but the wines were enjoyed because of their quality and individual characteristics.

Many were intrigued to learn that Tinta Roriz and Aragonês are, in fact, the SpanishTempranillo and that similar varieties are called by different names in other wine growing areas of Portugal.

At the end of the tasting the guests made their downstairs for dinner, clutching the useful booklets provided by Viniportugal, and discussing the wines of Portugal.

Here are the wines we tasted:

1 Quinta de Azevedo, Vinho Verde 2007
Fresh, lively and dry with good lemony notes. 70% Loureiro, 30% Paderna.

2 Terra de Lobos White 2008 Ribatejo
Plump, dry with good acidity. A blend of Fernão Pires and Sauvignon.

3 Marco do Pegões Tinto 2006 Terras do Sado
Lots of ripe red fruits. Made by the award winning Jaime Quendera at the Pegões cooperative near Setubal.

4 Conde de Vimioso Tinto 2006 Alentejo
Ruby red in colour with a nose of cooked red compote and hints of tannin. A blend of local varieties, Aragonês and Touriga Nacional, and the international Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon, which was aged for six months in oak. This is the first of the wines tatsed that are produced by João Portugal Ramos, a larger than life character who does so much for Portuguese wines.

5 Quinta de Ponte Pedrinha Tinto 2003 Dão
Mature with dry fruit and gentle tannins. A classic Dão blend of Touriga Nacional, Alfrocheiro Preto, Jaen and Tinta Roriz.

6 Aragonês João Portugal Ramos 2007 Alentejo
Big red with good tannins – hints of cherries and plums. Aged six months in oak.

7 Duas Quintas Douro Tinto, Adriano Ramos Pinto 2004 Douro
Intense with, yes, porty hints! Another classic Portuguese blend of Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz and Touriga Nacional.

8 Falcoaria Tinto, Quinta do Casal Branco 2006 Almeirim, Ribatejo
Deep, intense, rich with balancing black fruit and maturing tannins. Made with Castelão and Trincadeira from 80 year old vineyards, whose maturity and age benefit the wine.

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