The region of Bairrada occupies no more than 10,000 hectares, fractioned off by cooperatives and small producers like Quinta do Encontro. Although the region has been producing wine since the 10th Century, it wasn’t until the 19th century until it became a quality wine producing region as a result of one man’s efforts. António Augusto de Aguiar who not only dedicated his passion to wine production, but was also the first person to define the region’s borders in 1867. Consequently, in 1887, The Escola Prática de Viticultura da Bairrada, (The Wine School of Bairrada) was founded to both improve and promote the region’s wines. What the school has gained notoriety for, however, is developing the first sparkling wine of the region in 1890.
Yet, sparkling wine isn’t the region’s emblematic wine. Wines made from the Baga grape planted in clay soils is what has crafted the reputation of the Bairrada region. And if you remember from our previous article on Baga, it’s a varietal known for its bold rich color and powerful tannic structure, giving it great longevity but a mind bending intensiveness. Recently, Bairrada has expanded its portfolio to include more international varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot and Pinot Noir, alongside native varietals such as Touriga Nacional or Tinta Roriz.
This little intro into the region is important to understand our previous experience with Baga. Prior the opening the Preto Blanco, we had our reservations with this varietal. Although, this 10 hectare winery has been working hard under the careful direction of João Paulo Seabra Almeida
to blend Baga with other varietals such as Merlot and Touriga Nacional, we weren’t entirely sure what to expect. Fortunately, the news is all good!
What makes this wine interesting is that it’s a red wine elaborated with Baga, Touriga Nacional and a white native varietal called, Bical. Bical’s fame started in the 1980’s when it was made in sparkling wines. An early-ripening grape varietal, Bical is characteristic for its high acidity and aromatic quality. Fermented in stainless steel, followed by 8 months in French oak, the 2003 Preto Blanco was like opening Pandora’s box. What started as a relatively tight and restricted wine slowly disentangled itself, casting off aromas like deep rich violet, concentrated blueberry, wet black dirt, cassis and spice. The palate divulged more subdued and rich flavors like bitter chocolate, black pepper, blueberries, and, of course, violet – the signature flavor of Touriga Nacional. (additional notes below)
It’s a fantastic wine and although you will have a difficult time finding it in your area, I highly suggest sending Dao Sul an email to request it sent to your local wine shop!
D.O.C/V.R.: DOC Bairrada
Address: Apartado 246, S. Lourenço do Bairro 3781-907 Anadia PORTUGAL
Telephone: +351 232 960 140
Fax: +351 232 961 203
Email: [email protected]
Bodega Founded: 1933
Hectares of Vines: 10
Grape Varieties Grown: Baga (60%), Touriga Nacional, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Tinta Roriz and Castelão, and the white ones Bical, Maria Gomes, Arinto and Chardonnay
Winemakers: Carlos Lucas and Carlos Rodrigues
Quinta do Encontro Bical
Quinta do Encontro Merlot-Baga
Quinta do Encontro Preto Branco
Quinta do Encontro Grande Encontro
Quinta do Encontro Encontro 1
Quinta do Encontro Sparkling White wine Brut
Quinta do Encontro Sparkling Red Wine Brut 2004
Ryan’s Tasting Notes
- 2003 Quinta do Encontro Bairrada Preto Branco – Portugal, Beiras, Bairrada (9/12/2007)
I always complained about people judging a wine by it’s color. I used to say things like, “You can’t taste red”, therefore I now feel silly wishing to describe the nose of this wine as blue. That’s right blue. Don’t know why, but that’s what pops in my mind, the aromas and ideas that follow that are diverse and intriguing. Blueberries, cassia, violets (pure and almost volatile), dusty cinnamon topped with shavings of allspice, then mix this all with the gravel from middle of a country road. WOW. I really want to keep my nose it in and every time I go back I get reminded of something, this time a whiff of my mothers homemade chokecherry syrup. In the mouth this is a lush and sensual wine. Great acidity that sparkles almost combined with fine silky tannins, that leave your mouth receptive to myriad flavors. Blueberries, chokecherries, bitter chocolate and steely gravel. Just opened, I’m excited to see it evolve. Full of flavors that have yet to show themselves, this is a wine I would gladly buy and even cellar for 4-8 more years, if not longer.
- 2004 Quinta do Encontro Bairrada Encontro – Merlot-Baga – Portugal, Beiras, Bairrada (9/4/2007)
Plummy wine with mint notes and lots of pepper, all layered almost as if the canvas was made of slate. Rich fruit in the mouth with a gravelly quality and considerable tannins. Med to high acidity with light oak notes. Tons of black pepper! Feels like i just ground some on my tongue…Will wait to see how this evolves. Really a nice wine though a bit out of joints right now. After about 2 hours open it began to soften some and I found that started to enjoy it much more.