Posted by Grape Adventures | Posted on 06-20-2012| Posted in
Our next stop in the Douro was Quinta do Vale D. Maria. After getting lost (again), we arrived at the winery and were greeted by an excited group of bouncy puppies and Joana, a winemaker on the property. Joana’s English was absolutely perfect and she is one of those people with whom you immediately feel comfortable joking around. She led us on an unrushed and friendly tour of Vale d. Maria, before going to her lab where we sampled several wines:
- Van Zellers Branco 2010: Stainless steel fermented, a mouthful of flavor – citrus, herbal, grapefruit. Both satisfying and refreshing. From Wine Advocate, “Clean, fresh, tight and focused, it combines steely minerality with bite on the lingering finish. It made me think Chablis…If you can track this down, it’s a no brainer.”
- VZ 2010:Barrel aged for nine months in 90% new barrel. Rabigato is the most predominant grape in this blend, which has great acidity, smoky oak, tropical and green apple notes.
- Quinta do Vale Dona Maria Douro 2009: ~15 grape varieties; in the lagares through fermentation; 60% new oak. Hot tamale candies and balsamic vinegar on the nose (normal combination, right?). The palate had loads of deep black fruits and powerful tannins, that I think will give the wine amazing aging potential for 10+ years.
- CV 2009: Grown on the property’s north-facing vineyards and made of 20+ grape varieties. Violet flowers, granite, minerality, dark fruit. Only 6,000 bottles produced.
The perfect way to end Day 1 in the Douro was a dinner at DOC Restaurant. The food & service were excellent. If you go, sit on the deck, right on the water and order the Vinha Dos Deuses 2008 Quinta Dos Frades. It’s grandiosely served in a sleek, curvy decanter (which made me worry I’d ordered the wrong wine, i.e., one a lot more expensive). The profile of the wine is perfectly fitting for a warm evening at this restaurant: it’s spicy, dusty brimming with red cherry, and a slightly Pinot-like. Totally hit the spot and enlightened me to the diversity of Portuguese wines.
It’s not easy to find many Portuguese wines here in the U.S., even in NYC. If you can find them, of course, snatch up the high-quality Douro reds, particularly the Reserva and old vines. They are incredible values for the money, especially in comparison to French or even Spanish equivalents. The whites are also very refreshing, simple good values. Let me know if you’ve discovered spots in your city where they serve or sell Portuguese wine. First on my list is Aldea Restaurant in NYC. Any to add?
This is part of a three-part series. You can see the first post here.