Last night we had an emergency at our house. Dinner was about to be served and all we were out of wine! No don’t worry there was wine in the house, but we were out of wine to “drink”, meaning dinner was not worthy this night of the few “special” bottles we had, and the rest were samples that we felt deserved more attention that we could both muster after a long day of work. Panicked I dashed around and stumbled across a half bottle that I had leftover from a wine shop visit I made in Lisbon back in January. Quinta das Cerejeiras, Reserva from the little known(known at all?) appellation of Óbidos. A triangular 1998 vintage label laid out at the top of the bottle and a lowly 12.5% alcohol by volume made me wonder if this was even worth it. It was one of those bottles that I was waiting for the right moment to open it. That moment hadn’t arrived in almost 11 months so I resigned myself to the fact that tonight would be it’s chance to shine. Put all of this with the fact that I remember the wine shop owner telling me that this was made in the “old” style where oxidation often was more important than extraction, indicating to me that this wine might not have much left to it 8 years after harvest. None the less food without wine is about as bad as a wine without food. So we cracked it open.
It had been awhile since I’ve opened a half bottle, and I was surprised by the size of the cork so small and remarkably intact. Pouring it my fears were confirmed as it came out a bit lighter than I hoped with a strong bricking at the rim, an indication of oxidization that occurs with time. Gabriella with notebook in hand inquired as to what the wine was, upon which I turned my back and asked her to just taste it and take notes, freeing herself of preconceived notions as to what to expect. Taking the glass the first sound I heard from her as her nose crept over the glasses rim was one of approval? Dipping my own nose I was shocked to find that I didn’t pull back in disgust, but rather a curious stitching of my brow formed as I tried to divine the unexpected but not unpleasant aromas.
Burnt honey? light minerals, toast, hazelnuts and slowly but surely a hint or too of delicate violet notes. Huh? I looked again to make sure it was a red wine and not a old white in red clothing. Tentatively I took a sip and was greeted by full maturity, elegance and soft simplicity. Was it a stunning wine, no, but it sure was fun to drink. Dusty fruit, that gave way to strawberry/rhubarb flavors as it danced on my palate. With time the nuts and honey crept in to show themselves but never sticking around enough to pin them down. 8 yrs, unknown appellation, and turning the bottle around I see it was in barrel for 6 years, and it’s made from the grape Castelão (Periquita)? Who would have thunk it!
Gabriella and I managed to choke down the rest of this intriguing and altogether delicious wine. It really was a treat and we kept saying to ourselves don’t always judge a bottle by it’s cover!
Search here for tasting notes from the Portuguese wine producer Quinta das Cerejeiras: Quinta das Cerejeiras