Editor’s note: Denise Medrano, aka “The Wine Sleuth” joins us today from London – a city that currently is experiencing less rain than Barcelona (if you can believe that!). She has generously agreed to give us a little of her time, whenever time permits, to report on Iberian wines from her neck of the woods. Thanks so much Denise!
I was invited to the Wine Cellar at the Bluebird on the King’s Road in Chelsea the other night for a winetasting of the well known Portuguese producer Quinta de la Rosa. Portuguese wines get a lot of press in the UK marketplace but they are still in the process of becoming household wines in England.
It used to be the custom at one time to present a pipe of port as a christening present. Sadly, that custom seems to have fallen into disuse but at one time it was what many a lucky infant received. Quinta de la Rosa was bought in 1906 as a christening present for Sophia Bergquist’s grandmother, Claire Feuerheerd, guess they didn’t think a pipe was enough. Feuerheerd was the family port company but was sold in the 1930′s. Claire kept La Rosa in the family and continued to run it for many years. In 1988, Sophia and her father Tim, decided to relaunch the ports and began producing top notch ports. In the early 90′s, they were one of the pioneers of still red wine production in the Douro Valley. The quinta is situated on the banks of the Douro valley in the Alto Douro not far from the town of Pinhão, with commanding views of the river.
The Douro is best known for their ports but thanks to the efforts of producers like Sophia and her father, quality wines are now being produced and exported. The winemaker of Quinta is Jorge Moreira. He trained under Jerry Looper, a California winemaker, so he has many international influences as well as the local knowledge to help him make his wines. Sophia is of the opinion that it’s important not to isolate yourself from the wines of the world but rather, to be able to compare and contrast international wines with your own, the better the learn and improve. Jorge agrees with Sophia wholeheartedly and it is evident in the wines he produces.
La Rosa produces a variety of red and white wines using native varietals. Among them, touriga nacional, touriga france, tinta roriz and tinta cao, most used to make port as well. The wines that we tried, the 2005 Durosa, 2006 Aguia and the 2006 Reserve Red were all very well balanced, fresh and supple. The notes and aromas of the fruit were not overpowering but enjoyable, waves of blackberry, pomegranate and cassis along with excellent structure and acidity.
What really made me sit up and take note was the Vale de Clara rosé or rosado as they call it in Portugal. If you’re like me, you probably have many bad memories of sickly sweet rosé, Mateus currently floating around my mind, but the Vale de Clara rosé is a different creature all together. Fresh red fruits with a crisp and clean palate. This wine was the complete opposite of sticky sweet portuguese rosé. Sophia opined that since it was a by-product of the free run juice, it enabled their port to have a better concentration, not so dilute. The wine definitely had a few tannins hanging around which helps to give it structure and even give it the ability to age for a few years. This is a rosé that doesn’t necessarily need to be drunk this year. Unsurprisingly, Sophia says that it’s hard to get consumers to try it, esp. at the Â£10 price point but once they do, they are hooked. Yet another reason to give Portugal another look.
Watch the video for more on the rosé and a short interview with Sophia.