This week we will sample a variety of wine, all brand-new to the Spirits selection, from Herdade do Esporao of Portugal. We are quite excited to introduce these to you; as they present excellent value, varietal-correctness, and a fresh, new style- as we have not represented many Portuguese wines, because frankly, there have not been many of quality/value available in the past. However, the country is gaining much credibility for their non-fortified wines (in the U.S. anyway) and I think we will see more and more great wines for great prices emerging from this Old World region.
Herdade do Esporao is located in the Southern region of Alentejo (see bottom of page for more details about this region). We will sample three white and three red wines, in pairs, from three different quality tiers.
Herdade do Esporao– “Considered to be some of the most respected wines from the Alentejo and Portugal, Herdade do Esporão has helped create and revolutionise the region via a number of elements that include labels created by fine artists that change every year, promoting Alentejo wine and Portuguese culture at the same time.
When the Esporão project began in 1973, the Alentejo was a relatively unknown region that few people associated with wine. Today, Herdade do Esporão wines are some of Portugal’s finest, recognised not only in the exclusivity of Torre do Esporão, but also in the quality of Esporão Reserva and Private Selection (red and white), the personality and virtues of Monte Velho and Vinha da Defesa and the versatility and consistency of Alandra, which represent some of the best value Portuguese wines available.
Winemaking Philosophy- Of all the sub-regions in the Alentejo, we chose Reguengos de Monsaraz because it was the one that guaranteed full-bodied but elegant wines that are rounded and seductive, due to the combination of poor, stony soles and a tough summer climate that brings hot days and cool nights, followed by a harsh winter. It is here, in the heart of Reguengos de Monsaraz, that Alentejo wines are most balanced, whilst powerful, appealing, lively and with good ageing potential. If the vineyards represent the lungs of Herdade do Esporão, then the winery is the heart that beats to the pace of the grape harvest and the sequence of tasks defined by the year’s schedule and the winemaking team. We built our first winery in 1985 and it was designed to function almost exclusively with the help of gravity. It was soon considered to be one of the most advanced and sophisticated in Portugal, complemented by tunnels and underground cellars that allowed us to control temperature and humidity naturally. We decided to build a second separate winery in 2002, which allowed us separate vinifications, keeping the first winery for red wine and the new one for whites. Shortly after, a third winery was constructed (the lagares winery), which was designed for our most exclusive wines and where no detail that determines the quality of great wines is ever overlooked.
Location- Set in the magnificent and monumental landscape of the Douro (World Heritage), Quinta dos Murças is located not far from the town of Régua, on the right bank of the Douro River, between Régua and Pinhão. Quinta dos Murças itself dates as far back as 1714, built over 40 years before the denomination of the Douro was established. Bought by Esporão in 2008, Quinta dos Murças boasts a manor house and related buildings, as well as a riverfront area of over three kilometres. Benefiting from a unique landscape of steep slopes, terraces, vertically-trained vines, streams, vineyards and olive groves, the property can be partially seen from the other bank of the River Douro, from the road that links Régua to Pinhão. The vineyards stretch over 58 hectares of schist soil, dotted with forests, including a 10-acre orchard of citrus fruit trees and an olive grove. Time and man’s wisdom have helped turn this wild and rugged landscape into a place capable of producing top wines and olive oils, helping Quinta dos Murças take the first steps in building a reputation for quality both at home and abroad.”
Herdade do Esporao Alandra Branco 2012- Alentejo, Portugal. “Grape varieties: Antão Vaz, Perrum, Arinto. Soil Type: Granite/schist rock with clay/loam soil. Average age of vines: 16 years. Destemming, must chilling, pneumatic pressing, cold settling, fermentation temperature control with selected yeast inoculation in stainless steel tanks, centrifuging, fining, cold stabilisation and filtration. Crystal clear, citric colour. Floral, fruit [aroma]. Youthful palate, clean, fresh, well balanced.” Jen’s note: Clear color/very pale. Lively aroma- fresh pineapple/tropical with sweet floral undertones. Lean/zesty entry. Juicy, friendly and bright. Great packaging; great value. $7.99
Herdade do Esporao Alandra Tinto 2012- Douro, Portugal. “Grape varieties: Moreto, Castelão, Trincadeira. Soil Type: Granite/schist rock with clay/loam soil. Average age of vines: 10 years . Destemming, crushing, fermentation temperature control in stainless steel tanks, pneumatic pressing, malolactic fermentation, four months in stainless steel tanks. Bright condition, ruby colour. Youthfull fruit aromatics with light floral notes.” Jen’s note: Magenta/pretty ruby color. Nice perfume- juicy/bright berry fruits, spice hints. Mild palate; friendly. (Also great packaging; great value.) $7.99
Herdade do Esporao Monte Velho Branco 2011– Alentejo, Portugal. “Average age of vines: 15 years. Grape varieties: Antão Vaz, Roupeiro, Perrum. Destemmed, must chilled, membrane pressed, cold settled, fermented in stainless steel tanks with temperature control, centrifuged off gross lees, fining, cold stabilized and early bottling. Light straw colour. Fresh fruity aroma with notes of white peach and orange peel. Elegant and well balanced with body and richness, persistent and flavoursome finish.” Jen’s note- Savory, herbaceous nose- cut grass with undertones of green apple and pear- orchard fruits. Yeast and leesy notes. Juicy entry, very approachable and friendly. Textured. Mild acid. Pear, green apple, lime and lees on finish. $9.99
Herdade do Esporao Verdelho 2010– Alentejo, Portugal. Verdelho. “This unique, balanced, aromatic varietal expresses the true potential of this variety allied to the Estates complex soil geology and climatic conditions. Soil Type: Granite/schist base with clay/loam soil. Average age of vines: 10 years. Grape chilling, hand selection, whole bunch membrane pressing, cold settling, temperature controlled fermentation (14ºC), early bottling. Crystal clear, citric colour with green tones. Vibrant aroma with tropical and citric notes of lime and passionfruit. The palate is fresh and minerally, with a long and persistent finish.” Jen’s note- Beautiful aroma, peachy perfume with floral qualities/honey. Textured, dry palate. Honey flavors. Some mineral and wet stone notes. Simple flavors at finish, apple/orchard notes. $13.99
Herdade do Esporao Monte Velho Tinto 2011– Alentejo, Portugal. “Grape varieties: Aragonês, Trincadeira, Castelão. Soil Type: Granite/schist base, clay/loam soil. Average age of vines: 15 years. Destemming, crushing, fermentation in stainless steel tanks with temperature control, membrane pressing, controlled malolactic fermentation, ageing in stainless steel tanks and American oak barrels for 6 months prior to blending and bottling. Clear deep ruby colour. Berry fruit aromas with some complex subtle toasty notes. Elegant palate with good depth of fruit and a fine tannic structure.” Jen’s note- Pretty ruby/garnet color. Delicious nose- baked berry pie, spice, scorched earth. Black and blue fruit undertones, briary notes- juicy berry fruit flavors. Not overly heavy with bright tangy acid. Some earth notes. Red apple peel. $10.99
Herdade do Esporao Quatro Castas 2011– Alentejo, Portugal. “Grape varieties: [25% each] Aragonês [Tempranillo], Alicante Bouschet, Petit Verdot, Syrah. An annual challenge for the winemakers to find four grape varieties from that harvest which combine to show a complex and well balanced wine with distinctive character and flavour. Soil Type: Schist rock with clay loam soil. Average age of vines: 15years. 6 months ageing in French and American oak barrels followed by 6 months in bottle prior to market release. Lively deep red purple colour. Predominately red berries aromas associated with Aragones. Full body palate from Syrah with attractive texture from Alicante and great balance from Petit Verdot.” Jen’s note- Deep, spicy aroma. Some sweet berry fruit notes, briary fruit. Coconut hints. Bold entry, mouthfilling. Good tannin. $17.99
Taken from Wikipedia. Regarding the region of Alentejo:
Alentejo (Vinho do Alentejo, Alentejo wines) is Portuguese wine region located in the Alentejo region of the country. The entire region is entitled to use the Vinho Regional designation Alentejano VR, while some areas are also classified at the higher Denominação de Origem Controlada (DOC) level under the designation Alentejo DOC. VR is similar to the French vin de pays and DOC to the French AOC. Located in the southern half of Portugal, the Alentejo region covers about a third of the country and is sparsely populated. The region is noted for it vast cork production but has in recent years garnered attention for its table wine production.