Helen’s blog

Thoughts and tastings from Helen Savage, wine writer.

Archive for the ‘Douro’ Category

The Abandoned Vineyard

Friday, January 6th, 2012

In today’s Journal, I’ll be describing the amazing abandoned vineyard – Abandonado – owned by Alves de Sousa, part of their Gaivosa estate. This, spectacularly beautiful, but stubborn patch of schist with its scrubby vines, an almost wild mix of varieties, makes, I think, the best red table wine in the Douro.

The first wine from the vineyard to be bottled as an expression of the site alone is from the 2004 harvest. Tasted in summer 2011 it was still deep and young. It had an exciting aroma of berry fruits and creamy oak, but the fruit dominated. Rich and balanced it showed fine-grained tannins, great concentration and a long, liquorice finish. It was aged in all new oak for 12 months, some Portuguese, some American and some French.

2005 was fresher and more minty and also more elegant, with a deep depth of ripe black fruits, especially black cherry. It had lots of structure and was a bit closed. Tiago Alves de Sousa said that it needed a little longer in oak – around 15 months.

2007, according to Tiago is half-way between 2004 and 2005 in style. I found it big and black with very minty eucalyptus overtones and fresh fruit flavours.  Deep, rich and chunky it had higher acidity than teh previous wines and was more mineral.

No Abanadonado was made in 2006 or 2008. The 2009 promises to be sublime.  These wines are hard to find and aren’t cheap, but if you do get a chance to try them, grab it!

2011 Port – yet another vintage of the century?

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

At the end of last week’s Symington family single quinta port seminar in London on Thursday, Johnny and Paul Symington brought out three tank samples of the 2011 harvest. They call it ‘a most sensational harvest’.

The crop was small and very concentrated, but on the 21 August 18mm of rain softened the skins. The sample from the Qunita do Bomfim had staggering depth of fruit – intense ripe black cherry; Cavadinha was more perfumed and a little fresher – a huge wine, whereas Malvedos, more closed was intensely spicy.

Such notes are only the roughest of indications – the wines are too young to assess properly, but they are surely hugely promising and as Paul said, ‘You’d have to be a damn idiot not to make a great wine this year.’

I’ll report on the tasting proper in The Journal on 4 November.