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Old Colares   
Tasting wines from a Portuguese wine region that's almost extinct

Colares is a coastal Portuguese wine region thatís now almost extinct. Close to Lisbon, itís threatened by urban development. And the wines are difficult to understand, so they donít fetch huge prices, which makes them doubly vulnerable.

Viticulture here is pretty extreme. The soils are very sandy, which means that phylloxera was never a problem, and so the vines are planted on their own roots. Itís also an incredibly windy spot, with strong Atlantic breezes, so the vines are grown close to the ground, with each shoot supported by sticks, and with shelter from bamboo wind breaks. Fog is also an issue here, which means that the grapes struggle to reach full ripeness.

Planting the vines is a huge challenge, because growers have to dig deep trenches in the sand to get to the clay subsoil. Most of the remaining vines here are very old. 

The grape variety is unique to the region: itís a red grape called Ramisco. It makes wines that are low in alcohol, high in acidity, and pretty high in tannin. Theyíre challenging young, but as this small tasting showed, they can age fantastically.

These four wines were brought along to a tasting by Filipa Pato and William Wouters, which was very thoughtful and generous of them, because they have nothing to gain by showing these old historical bottles, other than sharing a piece of Portuguese wine history with us.

Thereís a blog post with some nice pictures of the region here.

Colares Antůnio Bernadino Paulo da Silva 1968
Lovely complex aromatics: old, earthy, spicy and dense. The palate is fresh with good acidity and some fruit. Still alive with savoury, herbal flavours and some tannic structure. A little unusual, but nice. 91/100

Collares Visconde de Salreu 1955
Complex, warm, evolved herby spicy nose with notes of tar and fudge. Very much still alive, showing beautiful aromatics. The palate has amazing acidity and complex, broad, deep fruit notes with spice and a hint of earth. Still some fruit here after 50 years, and there are some woody hints too. 92/100

Colares Manuel Josť Colares 1952
Amazingly, there are some red notes to the colour still. Warm, herby, spicy nose is surprisingly elegant with delicate leafy notes as well as some red fruit character. The palate has earth, spice notes as well as lovely elegant tannic structure, coupled with good acidity. Really surprising with lots of fruit still. Deliciously elegant. 94/100

Collares Viuva Josť Gomes da Silva & Filhos 1934
Still deep coloured. Super-elegant earthy, spicy nose, with some notes of fudge and tar, as well as a hint of mushroom. Otherwise, this is still quite pure. The palate is fresh with high acidity. Very savoury and earthy with firm tannins, still, and a lovely finish. Just incredible for its age, with lots of complexity and high acidity. 92/100

Wines tasted 10/09  
Find these wines with
wine-searcher.com

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