The casual wine enthusiast would be aware that Portugal has a reputation built mainly around the production of Port, a fortified wine made from a varied selection of black varietals. While this country’s selection of regular table wines are easy to overlook, it doesn’t take a huge leap of imagination to consider using the black grapes in port production for still wines. But as a consequence, Portugal’s white wines probably do not get much attention relative to their international competitors.
Flavor Intensity: Medium+
Quality: Very Good
Readiness/Cellaring: Drink now, not intended for ageing
Identity: Portugal / Alentejo / Antão Vaz, Perrum, Arinto, etc…
Price: High-priced (~$22)
Long, fast tears
Flecks of gold
Aromas of apple, pear, almond and lemon curd
Flavours of pear, peach, almond, vanilla and oak
Dry, chalky, waxy texture on back palate
Try with goat cheese
Risotto with parmesan
Due to Portugal’s relatively warm climate I could possibly expect a riper fruit profile, and anything else would be dependent on the winemaker’s expertise. Because this wine was under screwcap I expected it to be well preserved despite it’s 3-4 years in the bottle. Other than that, I wasn’t sure what else to use as a frame of reference – from the information I could find this was a wine made from a blend of varietals I had never even heard of before.
My first thought was that this white wine was very Chardonnay-like… this kind of description is very useful as cop-out technique, because Chardonnay can be made in a multitude of styles. In that sense many wines could be described as Chardonnay-like and it’s unlikely anyone would accuse you of being wrong.
So I’ll elaborate – this wine has a greater breadth and depth of flavour relative to some other white wines, with a texture I would expect from extended skin contact. There is a sense of creaminess hinting at Malolactic fermentation and a touch of oak, suggesting barrel ageing. This is not just a simple, one-dimensional, fruit wine but a sketched character trying to jump out of the page and into the real world.
It would be instructive, not just in this instance but in general, to have a brief breakdown of the various varietals used in blends. They could declare the use of varietal A for flavour, varietal B for texture and varietal C for acidity, for example. This is something that I have noticed with blended scotch whiskys, citing various points of origin to impart different characters to the final product. I can only hope this would become more common in the future.
Compared to last week’s tasting I feel this wine is much better value for money. An exotic blend that doesn’t seem unfamiliar, this wine is approachable by itself but would be an interesting match with many kinds of food.
Read more: Rational Wine Review #2 – Kim Crawford Marlborough Pinot Gris 2012