On Thursday February 20th the ICC Wine Group met to  look at Portuguese wines.

Here are my Notes:

HENRIQUES AND HENRIQUES 10 YEAR OLD SERCIAL, Madeira DOC – 20 % – Wine Society – £20 (½l)
Just Lovely! Notes of citrus, flowers, blossom, over-ripe peach… Palate has a smoky Madeira base, but dried fruit sweet hints undercut and lengthened by a dashing supple acidity that goes on and on, a wonderful aperitif as it gets the juices flowing: evocative, dashing, sensual and sensational! I think this is my preferred version of Madeira as it’s so versatile and unusual…
Ratings:        Quality:  18/20   Value:  15/20

SOALHEIRO ALVARINHO VINHO VERDE DOC 2015 – 12.5 % – Wine Society – £15
Floral notes at first, citrus and then a deeper oily note. The palate is fresh with light acidity but opens into something with under-stated depth, showing nutty and oily character. The acidity lifts the finish to produce a wine that will cope with a variety of starter dishes. This is the second time I’ve found Portuguese Alvarinho outstripping expectations formed by their Galician sister-wines!
Ratings:        Quality:  15/20   Value:  15/20
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LAGAR DE BAIXO BAIRRADA DOC 2012 (Niepoort) – 12.5 % – Bottle Apostle – £22
Nose slow to open but showing fruit: cherry, red berries and prune – and quite an Italian balance. The palate has a slightly earthy introduction, a light tannin backbone and a long – very long – line of acidity taking the wine into mounting fruit-acid – red plums? cherry?. This fruity finish follows a spicy middle palate, which is the other way round to usual and rather satisfying. Very good!
Ratings:        Quality:  17/20   Value:  15/20

DOURO RESERVA DOC (QUINTA DE LA ROSA) 2013 – 14 % – Waitrose – £12
Mainly Touriga Nacional, this wine has a heavy nose with a dusty, herby impression. The palate is very dark: prunes, plum skins, currants… with a sweet element just glimpsed behind a dense, earthy, brooding, slightly porty, dark wine, later is becomes slightly softer and grainier. Probably needs 3 or 4 years to calm down its fierceness.
Ratings:        Quality:  14/20   Value:  15/20

TERRA D’ALTER ALFROCHEIRO 2014, Alentejo IGP – 14 % – Weavers – £12
This has a soft nose, with oak showing among bright bramble fruit, some leafy pungency fading slowly. The palate has slightly soft, “pastille” fruit – bramble and cherry, but rather simple and (dare I say it) a bit “New World”.
Ratings:        Quality:  13.5/20   Value:  14.5/20

MOUCHÃO 2010 Alentejo DOC – 14 % – Wine Society – £25
This is 70%+ Alicante Bouschet, a red fleshed grape, and the nose starts with pungent spice (fenugreek?) black berry fruits, and a hint of herbs. The palate has supple savoury tannins and controlled power, expressed in length as much as depth of flavour, opening to show a dark fruit and acid line that develops for ages. The power/savoury/dark fruit/length balance reminds me a little of good Pauillac – although with distinctive Portuguese flavours; and I think it’d improve for 2 or 3 years and stay at peak another 3. Very good!
Ratings:        Quality:  17/20   Value:  15/20

I found this a better-than-expected tasting. All wines showed their type well, and their scores pretty well reflected their cost – hence the value numbers are nearly all the same. The Alentejo wines, in particular, showed the contrast in the region so well: an international style from an indigenous grape (the Alfrocheiro is made by a flying winemaker, Peter Bright!) against a traditional style made with modern attention to detail. The latter knocked the spots off the former in my view and is well worth double the money!

Until soon!

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