Last November Michele and I spent a week in Lisbon and had a wonderful time experiencing this beautiful country, so I was happy to accept an invitation to a Portuguese wine tasting on Portugal’s National Day, June 10. This important holiday is observed in Portugal and by Portuguese citizens and emigrants all over the world. The tasting was at Hearth Restaurant in NYC. The host for the event was Esporao and the speaker was Alex Pratt, MS.
Established in 1973, Esporao is a large company and produces wine, beer and olive oil, all of which I was able to sample. The chief winemaker is an Australian, David Braverstock. The wines were from the Esporao estate in the Alentejo region and the Quinta dos Murcas estate in the Douro region to the north. There were 12 wines, 6 white and 6 reds.
It was a wine tasting but we started with a beer Sovina Hells (Munich). This was the first crafted beer produced and bottled in Portugal (2008). It is inspired by the traditional recipe for Helles Munich beers. Mr. La Pratt said Sovina means “tight wad” in Portuguese slang.
Here are the 6 white wines we tasted. I will do the reds is a separate blog.
Quinto dos Murcas Estate is situated in the between Baixo and Cima-Corgo sub regions of the Douro. It is positioned on the right bank of the Douro River, between the towns of Régua and Pinhao. There are 383 acres of which 118 are planted with indigenous grape varieties. They were the first to break from the traditional terrace plantings. The high density of vertical plantings helps stabilize the soil against erosion.
Assobio Branco 2018 made Douro from Viosinho, Verdelho, Rabigato, Gouveio and Codego do Larinho grapes. At the edge of the Quinta dos Murcas there is a valley formed by steep slopes. It is the highest vineyard plot here at 2,300 ft. When the wind blows it makes a whistling sound and Assobio means whistle in Portuguese. The soil is schistous and granitic and the vines are 20 years old. Maturation takes place in stainless steel tanks on the lees.
Monte Velho Branco 2018 made from Antao Vaz, Perrum and Roupeiro (Palomio in Spanish) and Roupeiro (aka Codega in the Douro). Made from 50% estate grapes and 50% purchased grapes. The average age of the vines is 18 years.
The soil is schist/granite origin with clay loam structure. Vinification is in stainless steel. The first vintage was in 1991. This is one of the most popular wines in Portugal.
Herdade do Esporão Esate is situated in the Reguengos de Monsaraz DOC and Alentejo’s montado ecosystem (cork oak forest). There are 1710 acres of organically grown vineyards, olive groves, other crops and 4 types of olives.
Esporäo Verdelho Branco, Alentejo 2017 made from 100% Verdelho. The soil is a granite/schist base with a clay/loam structure and the vines are 15 years old. In 2004 David Baverstock, instigated the plantings of Verdelho in Alentejo believing it would do well there. The cuttings came from Madeira and today you can also find Verdelho in the Dao. Vinification is in stainless steel.
Esporäo Colherita Branco, Alentejo 2018 made from Antao Vaz, Viosinho, Alarinho and other grapes grown organically at Herdade do Esporao, an organic certified vineyard that is 8 years old. The soil is schist rock with a loamy clay structure. Vinification is in stainless steel. The wine needs 3 to 4 years before it is ready to drink
Esporäo Reserva Branco 2017, Alentejo made from Antao Vaz, Arinto and Roupeiro from 18-year-old vines. The soil is granite/schist base, with a loam/clay structure. The wine is made exclusively from estate grown grapes. Barrel fermentation is in French oak.
Esporäo Private Selection Branco 2017 made from 95% Semillon and 5% field blend. The wine was created in 2001 to challenge the classic profile of the Alentejo wines. Using Semillon was David’s idea, specifically from Barossa. The first planting was in 1993-1994. The soil is predominantly clay and the age of the vines is 22-26 years. The wine sees some time in oak. This wine qualifies as a garrafeira but is not bottled as one as this variety is not recognized for garrafeira (wine that has been aged for at least 2 years in wood and another year in bottle).
Esporao Olival dos Arrifes Organic produced from Arbequina and Cobrançosa olives using organic production methods. The groves are at Herdade do Espoão. The olive grove was certified for Organic production in 2009