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Portuguese wines at the London wine trade fair, May 2000

Laymont & Shaw
The Old Chapel, Millpool, Truro, Cornwall TR1 1EX, UK
Phone: 01872 270545 Fax: 01872 223005
E-mail: info@laymont-shaw.co.uk
Website: www.laymont-shaw.co.uk
An Iberian specialist based in Truro, Cornwall. They also run a mail-order business and have a mailing list of some 3000 private customers.

Luis Pato, Bairrada
Luis Pato is the name everyone mentions when the Bairrada region is discussed: he's been producing wines from 62 Ha of family owned vineyards (in 23 different plots) since the early 1980s that have been attracting a lot of press. So it was nice to be able to try Pato's quartet of single vineyard wines side-by-side. They are potentially very impressive; I say potentially, because all these wines will really need a decade or so to really show at their best. They are not widely available yet in the UK. The retail price will be some £15-20 per bottle, so they are not cheap, although this is reasonable for the quality on offer. As with most red Bairrada, the variety used in these wines is the tannic Baga grape.

Vinha Pan 1998
Made from 20 year old vines. This is a rich, deep wine with complex fruit and a touch of sweetness. Richly tannic. Very good, but don't drink yet.

Vinha Barrosa 1998
Made from 70 year old vines, this is a concentrated, deep, tannic wine with a firm structure. It is not yielding too much at the moment, but this complex wine may develop nicely.

Barrio 1998
From 70 year old wines, this gives a little more on the nose. There are cherries and some meaty notes. Bright fruit on the palate, with firm tannins. Good.

Quinta do Moinho 1998
Once again, a firm, tannic wine. Deep and complex; good stuff that needs time to show its best.


Quinta do Côtto, Douro
Another set of impressive wines from the Douro Valley, which is increasingly producing table wines that rival the more traditional Ports in terms of interest. These wines are good value, too (the red retails for about £8).

Quinta do Côtto 1998
Includes 20% Touriga Nacional, 20% Touriga Francesca, 10% Tinta Roriz, matured in old Portuguese oak. The 1998 was only bottled the previous week, but wasn't showing any ill effects from this. A concentrated purple win with dense cherry and herby fruit. Pretty tannic at the moment, but very attractive stuff. V. good.

Quinta do Côtto 1997
Much more open on the nose than the 1998, with ripe red fruits. Complex with a pleasant herby/medicinal edge. Still tannic, but really attractive. Very good +

Paço de Teixeiró 1998 Vinho Verde
A really unusual Vinho Verde, which has been fermented in Portuguese oak and given full malolactic fermentation: virtually unheard of for wines from this region. It has a big nose of boiled sweets, and on the palate is richly textured with some fatness. Bone dry finish. Worth a try.

Raymond Reynolds
Station Road, Furness Vale, High Peak SK23 7SW, UK
Phone: 01663 742230 Fax: 01663 742233
E-mail: info@raymondreynolds.co.uk
Established in 1990, Raymond Reynolds concentrates solely importing the wines of Portugal, and their portfolio is extremely impressive. They were showing a good range of their wines; unfortunately, I didn't have time to check out the Ports, but it was nice to be able to taste some unusual and worthy whites.

Casa de Saima, Bairrada
This 20 Ha property is one of the leading lights in the Bairrada regions. All the red grapes are hand-harvested and trodden in lagares, where fermentation are takes place. The reds are then aged in large oak vats for one to three years, and bottled unfiltered. In contrast to the ultra-traditional reds, whites are given the modern treatment in the winery, with cold fermentation.

Casa de Saima Tinto 1998
90% Baga with 10% Tinto Pinheira. 70 year old vines and old oak. Concentrated, richly tannic wine with a firm structure. It is a big wine, but is approachable now with food. Very good.

Casa de Saima Tinto 1997
A lovely wine. It’s massive in both flavour and structure, with super concentration. Delicious.

Casa de Saima Tinto Garrafiera 1997
A step up in price, this comes across as a little lighter in colour than the regular Tinto, but it is more expressive. Firm tannins underlie a complex palate, with notes of herbs and tea. Old fashioned in style, but very good.

Casa de Saima Branco 1999
Made from the Bical and Maria Gomes grapes. Rich nose. Soft textured on the palate, with nutty, waxy complexity. Good. This wine has a good reputation for improving with as much a decade's bottle age.

Boas Quintas, Dão
A new project initiated as recently as 1991, with 10 Ha of vines planted in three plots.

Quinta Fonte do Ouro 1997
50% Touriga Nacional in the blend, and 50% is matured in New Allier oak. Concentrated purple/black colour, this has a great intensity on the palate, with firm tannins and some new oak character. Super stuff, made in a new wave style. Very good.

Quinta dos Roques, Dão
One of the leading estates in Dão, and possibly the whole of Portugal. Vineyard holdings are 40 Has, spread over 12 different plots. Produces excellent blends, and also a highly regarded set of varietal wines, which weren't on show here. These wines are beautifully packaged in possibly the heaviest bottles I've ever encountered!

Quinta Dos Roques Tinto 1997
Blend containing 50% Touriga Nacional. Aged in 100% new Limousin oak. Purple/black colour. Intense nose showing some new oak. Highly seductive, with firm tannins: a concentrated wine in a modern style. Very good+

Quinta Dos Roques Reserva 1997
A single vineyard blend aged for a year in new Limousin oak. Interesting herby, funky nose, with caramel, herby, medicinal complexity on the palate. Fascinating wine of real character and less up-front appeal than the regular bottling. Very good +

Dirk Niepoort, Quinta de Nápoles and Quinta da Passadouro, Douro
Dirk Niepoort is making some serious wines from these two estates in the Douro: a result of old vines, low yields and traditional winemaking techniques.

Redoma Tinto 1996
Fourth release of this wine. A blend of Tinta Amarela, Touriga Francesca and Tinta Roriz. Some of the wine is aged in barriques. Red/black colour, this is concentrated stuff. Firm, complex, earthy and mineral notes combine with a strong structure and great complexity. Lovely stuff.

Redoma Branco Reserva 1997
Made from the Rabigato grape fermented in new French oak barrels. A richly textured white with an intense, nutty flavours. Very good.

Passadouro Vinho Tinto 1995, Douro
Old vine Tinta Roriz, foot trodden and fermented in lagares. Made from old vines. Foot trodden and fermented in Lagares, it is a blend dominated by Tinta Roriz and Touriga Francesca. Opaque purple/black colour, this is a monster of a wine, with rustic, herby fruit and awash with firm tannins. Excitingly complex, this is a superb, wild wine.


Finally, two more whites

Catuxa Branca 1997, Evora, Alentejo
From the well regarded Adega de Cartuxa estate in the Alentejo, home to one of Portugal's most famed wines (Pera Manca). Arinto and Antão Vaz grapes. Rich, ripe white, with a nutty, waxy character. Good concentration.

Quinta da Murta Branco 1999, Bucelas
Bucelas became popular in England in the 19th century, but subsequently vineyards went into decline. Over the last couple of decades the injection EU money has led to a mini-revival. This crisp white wine comes from a 15 Ha vineyard first planted in 1988. It is 95% Arinto, 5% Esgana Cao with no oak. Bright, fresh, aromatic wine with real interest.