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The wines of Herdade do Esporão, Alentejo, Portugal

Herdade do Esporão, Apartado 31, 7200-999 Reguengos de Monsaraz, Portugal
Tel. 351 266 509270  Fax: 351 266 503586
E-mail: herdade@esporao.com Website: www.esporao.com
UK agent: John E. Fells (info@fells.co.uk)

See: a more recent report on these wines here

Winemaker David Baverstock is doing interesting work here. Although he’s been working in Portugal for 20 years, you could say that his Australian roots are evident in the style of some of these wines. Portugal’s Alentejo is a hot region, and coupled with Baverstock’s penchant for American oak, the resulting style is a ripe, spicy, accessible one.

Located in Reguengos de Monsaraz, 180 km south of Lisbon, the estate was purchased by current owners Finagra in 1973, but it wasn’t until 1989 that the first Esporão wine was released. Further expansion has increased the area under vine to a staggering 550 ha. It’s a thoroughly modern operation, both in terms of viticulture and winemaking.

Esporão is an important estate: as well as producing a large quantity of very good wine, its prominence on export markets over the last decade has raised the profile of the Alentejo as a quality wine region outside Portugal, and no doubt has encouraged other producers to follow its lead.

Alandra Branco 2001
Very bright modern herby edge to the nose. Herby and fresh on the palate, this is interesting, modern stuff. Successful. Very good (£4.99)

Monte Velho Branco 2001
Modern, fresh, full flavoured and crisp. Quite herby. Nice stuff in a modern style. Very good (£4.99 SH Jones)

Defesa Branco 2001
Quite a serious herby, nutty nose. Rich, intense nutty palate with attractive fruit and some effective oaking. Very good+ (£6.49)

Esporão Reserva Branco 2000
Very attractive full, nutty nose with some well integrated oak. Attractive nutty palate is quite rich and ripe with a coconutty edge. Very attractive stuff, if a bit oaky. Very good/excellent (£7.99 SH Jones)

Alandra Tinto 2001
This red wine shows attractive cherry fruit with a bit of spice. Soft and rich textured, with good density. Great commercial winemaking. Very good (£4.99)

Monte Velho Tinto 2001
Bright cherry fruit with a nice texture on the palate. Good acidity. Attractive stuff. Very good (£4.99 Majestic, Wine Society, SH Jones)

Defesa Tinto 2000
Quite a serious style. The nose displays rich berry fruit with a nice spicy character from the French oak. Lovely density of rich fruit on the palate with a herby, liquoricey edge and firm, spicy tannins. Impressive stuff. Very good/excellent

Esporão Reserva Tinto 1999
Lovely rich nose displaying herby, spicy berry/cherry fruit and some oak influence. The palate shows good density of spicy fruit with good acidity and a rich, complex wine in a modern mould. Very good/excellent (£8.49 Nethergate, Berry Bros, Portland Wine, £9.99 Lay & Wheeler, Great Northern Wine Company)

Bastardo 2000
Deep coloured. Very forward spicy nose with striking raspberry fruit, rich and full. Rich, lush, concentrated palate dominated by raspberry fruit with spicy complexity and firm tannins. Very good/excellent (£7.99 for 50 cl, Portland Wine)

Touriga Nacional 2000
Enticing nose of ripe, sweet plummy blackberry and raspberry fruit, with some spicy oak notes. Palate is concentrated with lots of pure, sweet blackberry and raspberry fruit, together with high acidity and some more spicy oak. Quite tannic at the moment, this is a forward, attractive wine that should age well. Aussie style: blind you could mistake this for a cool climate Shiraz. Very good/excellent (£7.99 for 50 cl Portland Wine)

Syrah 2000
Opaque red/black colour. Forward, attractive spicy nose is modern and lush, with liquoricey fruit. The palate is rich, tannic and fruity with lots of spicy vanillin character from the American oak. Very good+ (£7.99 for 50 cl)

Esporão Garrafeira 1999
A premium blend of Touriga Nacional, Syrah and Trincadeira. Very deep purple/black colour. The nose shows deep berry fruit and quite a bit of oak influence, with notes of spice, vanilla and coconut. It’s wonderfully rich and concentrated on the palate, which is opulent and rich, with a pronounced spicy character. Classy stuff in a modern style. Very good/excellent (retail will be about £12)

For tasting notes of other Portuguese wines click here
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wines tasted April 2002; article published September 2002