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Spotlight on Portugal's Dão region
Part 2:
Quinta dos Roques/das Maias  

The wines

Quinta dos Roques Branco 2003
A blend of Encruzado, Cercial, Malvasia Fina and Bical. Lovely fresh limey, minerally nose with some youthful, tanky character. Tending towards grassy and aromatic. The palate shows lovely vivid, citrussy fruit with great freshness. Quite a classy fresh white with good acid and plenty of character. Very good+ 88/100

Quinta dos Roques Cercial Bical 2003
Rui says he is trying to balance two quite different varieties in this wine. ‘Bical has good mouthfeel but no acidity, whereas Cercial has more acidity – in some years a bit too much. Cercial is more fruity in the nose and Bical is a little more complex.’ This wine was first made in 2000 where the Bical was made by accident at 14.5% alcohol and the Cercial was harvested last at 11.2%. The two barrels were then blended. This shows lovely limey aromatic fruit with some richness and a hint of herbiness. The palate is quite broad and fruity yet with some freshness keeping it lively. Very good+ 89/100

Quinta dos Roques Barcelo 2003
This is probably the world’s only varietal Barcelo, and since this was the first vintage, bottled in April 2004, João Costa and I were the fourth and fifth people on the globe to try a varietal Barcelo. It’s an old variety from Dão that has been forgotten, partly because of its rather crazy growth pattern. It has as many as four florescences in the growing season, and last year was flowering at harvest time. Dos Roques have half a hectare. It is oak fermented in old barrels. Complex nutty herby nose with complex floral overtones and some lemony fruit. The palate is rich textured and full flavoured with nuttiness and a rounded fruity character. It tastes a bit like a Roussanne to me. Very good/excellent 91/100  

Quinta das Maias Malvasia Fina  2003
Quite fine, fragile perfumed aromas, delicately floral and slightly nutty. Expressive with pure fruit. The palate is broad and quite rich with some elegant, slightly plump fruit. Quite a versatile wine that is delicious and characterful. Very good/excellent 90/100

Quinta dos Roques Encruzado 2003
Some new oak is used here. Very fine nose with delicate, fresh lemony fruit with toasty new oak. On the palate the oak isn’t quite integrated yet with some vanilla notes sticking out, but otherwise it is very fine. Good acidity and lovely taut lemony fruit with nice minerality. Complex. Very good/excellent 92/100

Quinta dos Roques Tinto 2001
This was a difficult year with a rainy harvest, so no varietal red wines were made. The nose shows cherry fruit and spices, leading to tight, chewy herby cherry fruit on the palate. It’s savoury and spicy with good structure – a great food wine. Very good+ 88/100

Quinta dos Roques Alfrocheiro 2000
Sweet, slightly herby fruit on the nose with tobbacoey overtones. The palate shows a good concentration of sweet cherry and herb fruit with high acidity. Juicy and vivid, this is appealing stuff with lovely fruit quality and acidity. Very good/excellent 90/100


Quinta das Maias Jaen 2000  
Jaen has a mixed reputation among Dão growers, but here they like it. It’s the same grape as the Tinta Mencia from Bierzo in Spain. The story is that it was brought to Portugal by pilgrims returning from Santiago de Compostela. Sweet and soft, it is the most pleasant Dão wine grape to eat. This wine shows lovely sweet, supple, liqouricey fruit on the nose. Pure, seamless and elegant. The palate shows vivid, bright fruit with high acidity and some tannin. Very juicy. Very good/excellent 91/100

Quinta das Maias Jaen 2002
Very deep coloured. On the nose there are spicy, woody notes overlaying the pure, sweet fruit. The palate is very elegant with firm tannin, good acidity and some herbiness. Great potential and needs some time to settle down. Very good/excellent 92+/100 (this has been in bottle just three months)

Touriga Nacional

Quinta dos Roques Touriga Nacional 2000
Slightly muted dark fruits on the nose, with a herby edge. The palate is vivid with red and black fruits backed up by high acidity and lots of tannin. Nice food wine but perhaps a bit too acidic? Still, very appealing. Very good/excellent 90/100

Quinta dos Roques Touriga Nacional 2002
Very intense spicy, ripe nose dominated by spicy red fruits with a chocolatey edge. There’s some toasty oak, too, but it’s quite fine and is likely to integrate. The palate is concentrated with lovely vivid fruit, some tannins and high acidity. This is a striking wine. Very good/excellent 92+/100 (in bottle three months)

Quinta dos Roques Reserva 2000
A blended wine from a single old vineyard. Sweet, elegant herby/spicy nose showing some caramel notes and red berry fruit. The palate is open and slightly herby with juicy, spicy red fruits. Good acid and tannin – quite elegant. Very good/excellent 90/100

Quinta das Maias Reserva 2000
Also a blend from an old vineyard. Complex nose of tight herby red fruits with notes of chocolate, spice and caramel. The palate is spicy and complex with good elegance and fine acidity. Some minerality here. Good tannins. Very good/excellent 92/100

Quinta dos Roques Garrafeira 2000
Garrafeira is a traditional quality designation which dos Roques are trying to revive with this, their flagship wine. It’s a blend of the best barrels of the 2000 wines, and 4800 bottles were made. The nose opens out after a bit of coaxing to show lovely aromatics: a complex mix of layered fruits and subtle herb notes. The palate shows elegant juicy berry fruit (summer pudding), fine-grained tannins and high acidity. A concentrated wine with lots of character. Very good/excellent 93/100  

wines tasted May 2004

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