Of all the wines that the lovely winemaking country of Portugal has to offer, we know only of Port (the sweet red fortified wine, usually known as an after-dinner drink for the old and fuddy-duddy) and a sweet pink fizzy little number called the Mateus Rosé (in its atypical shaped bottle). But tasting two Port styles or a rosé or two doesn’t do justice to the length and breadth of the Portuguese winemaking industry. It barely scratches the surface.
Well this year seems to be more promising. The arrival of the new ambassador to India will also grant further impetus to them. H.E. (Mr.) Jorge Roza de Oliveira, it turns out, is as much a fan of our culture and country as he is of the wines of his own native land. And he already has winemakers showing the right attitude and initiative. Recently we welcomed Madame Sophie Bergqvist, co-owner of on very reputed Portuguese wine house, Quinta de la Rosa.
Quinta De La Rosa, located near Pinhao, is not only one of the oldest family-owned Port houses of the country but has an interesting approach to their wines. As against the market fashion where most of the procedures (aging, bottling, shipping, etc) are handled by big wine merchants the company believes in nurturing their wine babies by themselves. It is not only recent but has been the tradition since 1815 when they first made entry to the Port-production scene. Christened in 1906 by Ms. Bergqvist’s grandmother, Ms. Claire Feuerheerd, the company is now managed by Ms. Sophia and her father.
The father-daughter duo produces an array of table wines. Vale De Clara is their youthful and easily-enjoyable range while the Quinta De La Rosa range is a more serious and thought-provoking. However what’s common between the various grades of wines is their artistic labels. Be it the creative eccentric Vale De Clara labels, the retro-look rose of the douROSA, or the embrossed stylish labels of Quinta De La Rosa. But what holds the company’s prestige is their range of Ports. From crisp aperitif-style white port to the masculine Late Bottled Vintages, nutty Twanies to twinkling Rubies, you name it!!
Wi-Not received an opportunity of tasting some of their wines and we clinched at it. Here’s what we think of the wines:
2008 Quinta De La Rosa Reserva (Red)
Posh, Bold, ‘Tasteful Beauty’
First thing that one can’t go-by without noticing is the impressive black and white stylish label.
Wine has a deep colour, almost opaque, with purple rims. The nose is playful and can be mystifying with notes of fruits, herbs, and spices. Earthy notes with dark cherries, black olives, leather, tad musty, bellpeppers and fresh oak. The wine was shy to open at once and required its own time to get comfy in the glass. Dry on the palate with great balance between alcohol, acidity, and the body. Tannins were young, as expected, but with the shelf this wine can deliver they will surely become more round and velvety. Quince, blackberry, prunes, hint of aleo-vera, cloves, cinnamon, and a long aftertaste were noted on the palate. The wine is still a kid in the bottle yet to mature. Another 4 to 5 years will develop the wine into a drop worth a steal. A food-worthy wine with smoked red meat with a spicy sauce.
Quinta De La Rosa Finest Reserve Ruby (Red)
Flavourful, Desirable, Simplistic
Fine ruby hued wine with an interesting aroma. The nose was prickly at first but settled later. Blackberry notes dominated at once with stewed plums and (interesting) mustard oil aroma to follow. Notable amount of sugar was left unfermented but the alcohol was still sharp. Cherries, ham, citrus, orange zest, cloves, tart dried mangoes, and oak made the palate interesting and fun! The tannins are soft and the wine has good balance. Rubies get their colour from long aging, up to 5-6 years. This one can age for some more time (say 2 years). Great sip with any dish or even by itself
An apt matured tawny colour with rims fading away yet showing promise to stay for long. Intense nose with dominant notes of raisins and marinated gooseberry (candied). The palate was refreshing and well structured with a great sense of balance. Very smooth tannins, almost liquid, that supported the nutty flavours well. Walnuts, almonds, mulberries, orange marmalade, honey, dried figs, prunes, cashew, and a touch of spices, comprised of the notes on tasting. The aftertaste was long and the finish was clean. The wine was sweet and high acidic too thus prevented from being cloying. A good drink by itself which can prove to be a dynamic combo with various dishes. We tasted with extra-large portions as the empty bottle was as enticing as the wine inside it.
The winery has a huge portfolio comprising more than 25 produces, including a delicate olive oil. The house is all set to enter the Indian market with their wines. They believe their fortified can alter the way Ports are looked upon as a beverage in the country. One never know if it may finally be just the turn where Ports revive as a strong phenomenon. We have our hopes held strong.