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Spotlight on Portugal's Dão region
Part 4:
Álvaro Castro – Quinta da Pellada/de Saes

The wines

Alvaro Castro Dão 2002
This is distributed by Dirk’s company, UVA, and retails for around £7 – it doesn’t mention the Quinta. Quite a structured nose of savoury red and black fruits. Serious palate has a chocolatey, spicy edge. It is structured and savoury with taut berry and black fruits with good acidity. Quite firm and a good food wine. Very good/excellent 90/100

Quinta de Saes 2001 Dão
A blended wine from reasonably old vineyards that is sold quite cheaply. Chewy, spicy and savoury with dry spicy tannins. A lovely midweight, savoury food wine with great acidity. Very good+ 89/100

Quinta de Saes Reserva 2000 Dão
This spends more time in wood. Bright, savoury cherry herb and spice nose. Nice fruit. Quite bright and focused. The palate is chewy and spicy with savoury tannic structure. Nice hint of bitterness to the plumy fruit and a chewy, chunky character. Very good/excellent 90/100

Quinta da Pellada 2002 Dão
Touriga Nacional and Tinta Roriz, predominantly. Forward, vivid elegant berry and cherry fruit nose with a sweet edge. The palate is richly fruited but still elegant and savoury with some spicy tannins and nice acidity. Quite structured yet retaining elegance and length. Needs time. Very good/excellent 93/100

Quinta da Pellada Tinta Roriz 2002 Dão
Perfumed nose showing lovely, vivid, chocolatey sweet-edged red berry and black fruits. Hints of tar. The palate shows a lovely density of fruit: chewy, chunky and spicy with great purity of fruit and good acidity. Great structure. Very good/excellent 93/100

Pape 2002 Dão
Pape is an interesting project: a wine made as a joint venture between Alvaro’s Pellada (the ‘pe’) and rented vineyards from Casa de Passarela (the ‘Pa’). There are two wines under this label differing in the amount of
Alfrocheiro used and the sort of oak.

(1) Less Alfrocheiro. Very deep colour. Assertive nose of black fruits with great purity, chocolatey herby notes in the background. The palate is pure, spicy and quite approachable with lovely spiciness and some sweetness of the fruit, with acidity in good balance. Approachable. Very good/excellent 91/100

(2) Very deep colour. Lovely vivid black fruits on the nose with a chocolately richness. Lovely purity. The palate is chewy, chunky and spicy with good acidity and structure. Spicy, structured finish. Very good/excellent 90/100

Quinta da Pellada Baga 2000 Dão
Made from 2 year old vines, with just 300 bottles produced. Fine, smooth elegant nose with sweet and savoury liquoricey fruit, with a smooth earthy edge. The palate shows earthy berry fruit with firm structure and mouth coating tannins. There’s a chocolatey, earthy, tobbacoey edge. Interesting wine with lovely poise. Very good/excellent 92/100

Dado 2001
This is a collaboration between Dirk and Alvaro, blending Douro wine with Dão. Lovely smooth sweet nose showing pure elegant black fruits with hints of tar, spice and chocolate. The palate has wonderfully dense elegant cherry and raspberry fruit with great acidity, some chunky spiciness and an appealing plummy bitterness. A fine, complex structured wine with great purity. Very good/excellent 94/100

Then it was food time. It was superb. We had seared tuna and salmon, followed with belly pork, and then langoustines on a risotto base. Pudding was Requeijão (a dessert prepared from the whey of cheese) served with sweet pumpkin. We finished with Quijeo de Serra (mountain sheep cheese). In addition to the wines already open, there were some more treats.

Quinta da Pellada 1990 Dão
Complex herby, earthy and undergowthy, with chewy, spicy fruit on the palate. Good structure and lovely earthy minerality. Very good/excellent 90/100

Quinta da Pellada 1996 Touriga Nacional, Dão
A special cuvee with a wax capsule and ‘100% Touriga Nacional’ on the label. This has become a bit of a cult wine in Portugal. Deep coloured. Complex earthy, herby, spicy nose with some sweet black fruits. The palate has rich, dense fruit showing some evolved complexity. Subtle spiciness with soft herby characters and notes of tar. Perfect balance here. Excellent 95/100

Von Hovel Scharzhoftberger Riesling Spätlese 1975 Mosel Saar Ruwer, Germany
Almost perfect nose: fine lemony fruit with lifted acid and petrolly, honeyed richness. There are subtle toffee notes, too. The palate is brilliantly poised with high acidity framing the lemony, minerally fruit. Light and laser sharp. Excellent 95/100

JL Chave Hermitage 2001 Northern Rhône, France
Very fine floral aromatic nose with pure raspberry fruit and a spicy minerally depth. There are some animal notes in the background. The palate is perfectly balanced with good acidity and spice. Chewy and structured with brilliant balance and lovely acidity. Excellent 97/100

Niepoort Vintage Port 2003 (samples)
We tried two blind samples. The first is almost perfect with great structure and balance. The second is sweeter and more open with a herbiness to the sweet open fruit. Both are very impressive, but the first is much better. If this is what ends up being the vintage Niepoort, then I’ll be first in line with my cheque book!

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