If someone says name a Portuguese Rosé and all you can think of is Mateus or ‘phoning a friend, then we can help!
Quinta do Portal deep in the heart of the Douro Valley have produced a stunning Rosé – but before I wax lyrical about the wine itself, it’s worth looking at the background of the producers; after all, it’s their work, art and expertise that turn the humble grape into a thing of beauty.
Quinta do Portal is a family fine winemaking company that embraces with passion the ‘Boutique Winery’ concept. From Port wine beginnings (which they still produce) they have branched out into still wine production which is based on the diversity of the Douro, encompassing a wide variety of grapes, different altitudes, different aspects, and soils with different compositions.
In the field they apply a farming system that has the objective of producing high quality grapes by using natural resources – it’s sustainable farming at its finest.
The same environmental principles apply in the winery; they use gravity feed to reduce energy consumption and always have an eye on producing the best quality wine as sustainably as possible
The winemaking is led by Paulo Coutinho who has been at Quinta do Portal since August 1994. Paulo was born in the neighbouring village of Celeirós and is an Oenology graduate from the University of Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro, so he certainly knows his onions – or should I say grapes!
So, to the wine itself. The grape varieties come as no surprise – 50% Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo) and 50% Touriga Nacional – these make up part of the backbone of Portuguese red wine, and so it’s logical that they find their way into rosé too.
The Quinto do Portal grapes are hand-picked and transported in small baskets to the winery where the free-run juice is fermented in stainless steel tanks to preserve the fruity flavour. Ageing also takes place in stainless steel and the wine is left on lees until its bottled.
The resulting wine is a joy: high acidity brings out the flavours of raspberry and tart wild berries which mingle with pomegranate. At 13.5% abv it’s not too heavy to drink as an aperitif – or try it with fish and shellfish dishes. It’s suitable for vegetarians too, so what’s not to like!
A note about the artwork on the label. It is based on an excerpt from The Lusiads by Luiz Vas de Camões, an epic poem telling the story of Portugal’s voyages of discovery. First published in 1572, it is a mainstay of the classical literature of Portugal.
The illustration pictures the Goddess Venus that, despite strong opposition from Bacchus, was always a strong supporter of the Portuguese in their discovery of the maritime route to India. In Canto 1 of The Lusiads we discover that Venus saved the Portuguese from shipwreck: ‘Venus, observing them depart from their true course, all unwitting that they were being headed to destruction, was not prepared to see her beloved Portuguese perish on such a desolate strand; and by means of contrary winds she defeated the false pilot’s intention.’
Hurrah for Venus!
If you’d like to try this amazing wine, we still have a few bottles in stock. But hurry – not surprisingly, it’s selling fast.
By Maureen Little