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Bodega Profile – J. Portugal Ramos Vinhos S.A. – Alentejo

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Although I haven’t had the privilege of meeting João Portugal Ramos, I’ve heard rumors that he’s an upstanding guy. Read any article on either bodega or João himself, and you’ll rarely read anything less than positive feedback. He’s known as a gentleman, an innovator, a great politician and a person for who will go out of his way to promote not only his own wines, but also the wines of his brethren.

Rarely is a good wine the result of chance. My experience as oenologist suggests that a given wine reflects the nature of the earth from which it is born and of those who produce it.

Creating a wine is an art that we have been perfecting in Portugal for centuries, nowadays reinforced by systematic, documented knowledge and improved methods.

Skill, experience and technology enable us to improve – with a high level of precision – the different factors that influence the personality of a wine.

For me, helping Portugal’s natural potential in this area to shine by creating and reinventing each wine is a passion that I now have the pleasure of introducing to you and sharing with you in each wine that I make. ~João Portugal Ramos

Through technology, we have all learned quite rapidly that as the world becomes more interlinked, the notion of community has changed. If a winery chooses to be a lone soldier, they will be forced to watch their competitors soar above them at remarkable speeds, because only through supporting our neighbors, will our own business thrive. It appears that our friend João Portugal Ramos caught on to this idea well before it was popular and has stood by his convictions ever since.

After becoming an oenologist in 1980, João created Consulvinus (consul = to consult, vinus = wine) with the intention of offering local cooperatives in Alentejo the benefit of his acquired knowledge. By the late 1980s, his simple one man show extended well past the borders of the Alentejo into Ribatejo, Península de Setúbal, Dão, Beiras, Estremadura and Douro. In addition to his thriving consulting business, he was also dabbling into the elaboration of renowned Portuguese wines while revitalizing both regions and grape varietals that were falling off the consumer charts.

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After 20 years of consulting, João Portugal Ramos created a mega-winery in 1997 spanning 9,000 square meters in Borba (Alentejo) containing every modern piece of winemaking equipment imaginable, including a bottling plant. The cellar of the winery houses over 2,000 French, Portuguese and American oak barrels that are filled with only foot trodden wines.

And of the numerous wines that he produces, many under his João Portugal Ramos brand, the Marques de Borba is made in the traditional Portuguese style. A blend of primarily Trincadeira, Aragónez (Tempranillo) and Castelão, with Cabernet Sauvignon and Alicante Bouschet, the grapes are treaded by foot in stone troughs, called lagares, that are traditional in the Douro for Port production. The process is carried out for approximately 30 to 45 minutes twice a day until the alcoholic fermentation is complete.

Ryan and I have only had the opportunity to try the Marques de Borba Tinto 2005 and the Marques de Borba Tinto Reserva 2003. Both wines elegantly express a profound yet inherent complexity of aroma and flavor from its three main grapes: earthiness from Trincadeira, red fruit from Aragónez and herbal notes from Castelão. They are full bodied and dry in the mouth with firm tannins that eventually taper off to a silky, fine finish. That said the Reserva in this case seemed a bit more interested in oak flavors and seemed to step all over the rich fruit that was hiding in the background. A day of being open did not change this, and despite this the wine was enjoyable if not particularly to our style.

D.O./D.O.C/D.O.Ca: Alentejo
Address: Monte da Caldeira 7100-149 Estremoz Portugal
Telephone: (00 351) 268 339 910
Fax: (00 351) 268 339 918 / 268 339 916
Email: jportugalramos@mail.telepac.pt
Website: http://www.jportugalramos.com/en_empresa.htm
Bodega Founded: 1990
Grape Varieties Grown:

White: Roupeiro, Antao Vaz, Rabo de Ovelha, Arinto
Red: Castelao, Trincadeira, Aragones, Tinta Caiada, Syrah, Alicante Bouschet, Cabernet Sauvignon, Touriga Nacional

Enologist: João Portugal Ramos
Importers: Check out their website for importers located in your area.

  • UK: Oakley Wine Agencies, Eurofoods and Wines
  • Canada: FWP Trading Inc., Enotria Internationale. Liberty Merchante Co., Horizon Wines, Inc.
  • USA: Aidil Wines and Liquors, Signature Imports. Vinum Wine Importing and Distributing
  • Website: Informative but as a result of the Flash software, it’s frustrating to navigate.
    Wines Elaborated:

    Marques de Borba Tinto
    Marques de Borba Blanca
    Marques de Borba Reserva
    Loios Blanca
    Loios Tinto
    Quinta de Vicosa
    Vila Santa
    J. Ramos Portugal Aragones
    J. Ramos Portugal Antao Paz,
    J. Ramos Portual Syrah
    J. Ramos Portugal Tinta Caiada
    J. Ramos Portugal Trincadeira


    Gabriella’s Tasting Notes

    Marquês de Borba 2005
    Red wine produced by João Portugal Ramos in Alentejo, Portugal
    Note: Delicate raspberry with subtle glints of dark cranberry. Clear and transparent with a bright aromatic bouquet of red forest fruit, soft spice and slightly earthy undertones. It’s a balanced and well integrated showing an array of dark fruit preserves on the palate with subtle herb and cassis notes all conforming together to create a bright, medium body with great acidity and a lush mouthfeel. Think white meat dishes, pasta or warm consume soups on a chilly fall day. (Tasted on October 13, 2007)

    Marquês de Borba Reserva 2003
    Red wine produced by João Portugal Ramos in Alentejo, Portugal
    Note: Dark cranberry red with less concentration but equivalent clarity as the non-reserva. The nose is a dead ringer for typical cellar aromas of ancient dust intermingling with wet oak, cement and an overwhelming bouquet of red fruit. This wine is complex, intriguing in it’s presentation and an overall fabulous experience. As you open pandora’s box, aromas of big blooming violets emerge in front of cinnamon, clove, cassis, white pepper, wood and charcoal. Firm tannins that seem to hold tight for hours on end, but eventually ease to unveil rich ripe red fruit, rich black spices and a touch of black earth. Remain cautious when pairing this wine with food, because although the acidity is bright, the concentration of this wine needs rich meat dishes, thick stews or even cheese laden lasagna. (Tasted on October 17, 2007)

    Ryan’s Tasting Notes

    Marquês de Borba 2005
    Red wine produced by João Portugal Ramos in Alentejo, Portugal
    Note: Light ruby red color, like a jewel in it’s clarity. First thing I think of on the nose is fresh raspberries from my grandpa’s garden, fresh and soft, with notes of oak, leather, clove all subtle and well integrated. The palate continues this trend with a fresh acidty and soft mouthfeel. The raspberries are back but this time they come with light touches of blueberry and dusty oak. Tannins are soft and well integrated. As far as a drinking wine this is a nice treat that is soft enough to pair well with a good pasta dish or lighter meats.(Tasted on October 13, 2007)

    Marquês de Borba Reserva 2003
    Red wine produced by João Portugal Ramos in Alentejo, Portugal
    Note: Deeper ruby color not more intense, just more concentrated than it’s little brother. The nose is intense rich and reminds me of a small cellar of aging oak barrels all filled with wine. The fruit on this wine seems huge, but hidden behind a wall of wood, smoke, spice, and dried violets. Time will tell how this wine evolves. In the mouth this wine is rich and thick with tannins that coat the wall of my mouth like a painter who chooses a pallatte knife rather than a brush. Medium acidity and a pureness of fruit keep this wine drinkable, and it’s after a bit of air that the cherries, raspberries and white pepper begin to show. Lush and alive, soft and inviting, this wine is a breath of fresh air in a sea of heavy red monsters. Large and yet graceful, I might go grab some Pork loin to braise, or maybe a duck breast.
    EDIT – Following day, the Oak becomes more a more pronounced. Really a shame with so much good fruit, to have the wood become such a strong part of this wine.(Tasted on October 13, 2007)