The wines of Esporão, Alentejo, Portugal


Esporão is one of the most significant producers in Portugal’s Alentejo region. A lot of wine is made here, and the quality is consistently good, from the large-volume entry level brands to the high-level varietal wines and special bottlings. The chief winemaker is Aussie ex-pat David Baverstock (above), who I tasted the wines with. I visited back in 2005 (report here), and so it was nice to recap on the range.

A recent move has been that Esporão have upgraded the single varietal wines, and instead of making 20 000 bottles of each, just 6000 bottles of each of the best wines will be released. With the 2007 vintage, Touriga Nacional, Alicante Bouschet, Verdelho and Aragones were released. These will retail at around £23. The packaging has been revamped and now looks incredibly classy.

The wines here were tasted on a number of separate occasions, and the date of tasting is indicated by month/year.


Esporão ‘TN’ Touriga Nacional 2007 Alentejo, Portugal
14.5% alcohol. Beautiful packaging. Very rich, dark, intense and powerful with spice and vanilla notes alongside ripe red berry fruits on the nose. The palate has a firm, spicy, tarry edge to the lush, intense cherry and berry fruit. Ripe and quite oaky, but not overblown, with freshness and really attractive fruit. Modern, but quite serious, this will likely age well. 93/100 04/10

Esporão ‘AB’ Alicante Bouschet 2007 Alentejo
14.5% alcohol. This spends 12 months in new American oak. A really intense, dark wine with brooding blackberry fruit on the nose, as well as savoury, spicy, earthy notes and some sweet vanilla from the oak. The palate is dense and powerful with bold blackberry and raspberry fruit as well as some spicy tannins and sweet vanilla oak. Structure balances the sweet ripe fruit very effectively. It’s oaky, but not jammy or overripe. A heady concoction of fruit and oak that works. 91/100 04/10

Esporão ‘A’ Aragonês 2007 Alentejo
14.5% alcohol. From 35 year old vines (a single vineyard), this spends 12 months in new French and American oak. Sweet aromatics: spicy, creamy vanilla notes plus strawberry, raspberry and plum fruit. The palate is dense and spicy with sweet fruit and obvious oak. Quite Australian in style with some Rioja-like character, too. 87/100 05/10

Esporão 'V' Vedelho 2009 Alentejo
Lovely floral aromatics: citrussy, pithy and lively. The palate is bright and lemony with lovely precision and freshness, but also nice depth of fruit. 92/100

Esporão Private Selection Red 2007
This is also known as Garrafeira, and is the top wine. Dense, sweet and pure with very sophisticated oak supporting lovely pure fruit. Real freshness and depth here, with very classy fruit: sweet cherry, raspberry and blackberry, underpinned by fine grained tannins. Modern but very good. 93/100 05/10

Esporão Duas Castas Verdelho Viosinho 2009 Alentejo
14% alcochol. Lovely vibrant aromatic nose of orange, tangerine, lime, spice and melon. The palate has lovely fruit purity, with fresh ripe melon and grapefruit notes and real interest. Rich but fresh with nice personality. 88/100 (retail £8.95) 05/10

Esporão Quatro Castas 2008 Alentejo
A blend of Alicante Bouschet, Syrah, Petit Verdot and Alfrocheiro, aged mainly in American oak. 14.5% alcohol. Deep coloured. Sweet ripe dark fruits nose with some vanilla spice and tar from the oak, Mouthfilling and rich with nice marriage of sweet oak and ripe fruit, finishing spicy. Bold ripe fruit dominates. 89/100 (retail £12.95) 05/10

Monte Velho White 2008
Retailing in the UK at around £5, this is a fresh, bright white with lovely fruit expression. A blend of Rabo de Ovelha, Arinto and Roupeiro. 83/100  03/09

Esporão Reserva Branco 2008 (tank sample)
Nutty, lively and intense with lovely freshness. Really delicious and expressive with well integrated oak. 88-90/100 03/09

Esporão Reserva Branco 2007
Lovely freshness here with a delightful herby fruitiness and some nutty notes. Nice density: a delicious wine. 89/100 03/09

Esporão Verdelho 2008 (tank sample)
Retail around £9. Very fresh and bright with lovely lemony fruit. Citrus and grapefruit notes on the palate, which is crisp and pithy. Delightful. 88/100 03/09

Monte Velho Red 2007
A blend of Trincadeira, Aragones, Syrah, Touriga Nacional and Alicante. Juicy and fruity with appealing cherry and berry fruit. Lovely stuff with fresh fruity personality. 84/100 03/09

Esporão Alicante Bouschet 2005
Priced around £12. Sweet, creamy nose is quite intense with lovely vivid raspberry and plum fruit. Fresh and focused with sweet pure berry fruits on the palate. Nice definition and a spicy edge. 89/100 03/09

Esporão Trincadeira 2005
Juicy, sweet, berryish and plummy with nice fruit. Rounded and smooth. 87/100 03/09

Esporão Touriga Nacional 2006
Lovely floral dark fruits nose with pure aromatics. Nice focus on the palate which is vivid with nicely defined fruit. A lovely wine. 90/100 03/09

Esporão Reserva Tinto 2006
Retails around £9. Sweet and dense with well integrated spicy oak. This is quite a rich style with nice sweet fruit. 87/100 03/09

Esporão Private Selection Red 2005
A blend of Alicante and Aragones, retailing around £20. Lovely vivid pure dark fruits nose, with lush blackberry fruit. The palate is sweet and dense with vivid spicy fruit. Structured and attractive. 90/100 03/09

See also:

Visiting the Alentejo (series)
The new Douro (series)

Wines tasted 03/09  
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