(2019) A blend of traditional local grapes, Viosinho, Codega de Larinho, Malvasia and Rabigato, this surprises as Douro whites so often do with its particular freshness and mineral intensity. Unoaked, it does go through malolactic, which only rounds-out the texture and perhaps softens the acidity a little, but it stays dry, flecked with a salty mineral character, yet there is a lemon rind fruit and light waxiness there, almost like a dry Clare Valley Riesling perhaps, into a long and substantial finish of texture and flavour. Delicious and understated. Watch the video for more information.
(2018) What a beautifully aromatic wine, a deep, deep pool of black fruits, brushed with oak to give cedar and extra spice. In the mouth it is very firm, the authoritative tannins gripping, and suggesting it will cellar well and improve over the medium term, because the fruit is there OK: more black fruit, edged with a tart cherry and plum-skin acidity and grip, into a long finish. I'd cellar this for a couple of years or decant for an hour or two before serving. Made by Rui Cunha of Secret Spot fame.
(2018) A blend of indigenous varietieties Gouveio, Malvasia Fina, Rabigato, Viosinho, Códega and Touriga Franca grown on granite soils at 550 metres altitude, and given a full four years on the lees. There's a bold green apple fruitiness to this, aromatically touched by herbs and melon-skin character, a little breadiness. In the mouth the mousse is lively, and there's a touch of toast in the background, a slightly more phenolic feeling than a wine made from typical Champagne grapes, the 10g/l dosage leading to an easy and elegant finish.
(2018) What a terrific wine this is. Perhaps it's the fact that it is made by the traditional method from the Champagne grape Pinot Noir that has me on more familiar territory, but the beautiful fruit, depth, poise and substance of this wine with only 5g/l dosage made for fabulous drinking. Eight years on the lees has resulted in a touch of coppery depth to the colour and a nose of baked apple pie, lovely yeasty autolysis and a deep almost marmalade fruit note. In the mouth it is rich with a rolling mousse and such lovely, vivid flavours, small red berries etched by acidity, and long into the creamy beautifully balanced finish. A bargain for a wine of this quality.
(2018) Made from Touriga Franca, this spends 16 months on the lees and has a dosage of 9g/l. A very pale salmon-to-peachy pink, the nose shows really nice bready, pastry-like autolysis due to that considerable time on the lees, and the sweetness as it strikes the palate is abundant: the dosage is moderate but clearly the ripeness of the fruit shines through. There's a nice twist of endive bittersweetness, the crisp mousse and lovely citrus freshness of the acidity giving it great freshness and agility. I really enjoyed this quaffable but finely tuned sparkling rosé very much
(2018) A remarkable wine that spent a full 84 months - seven years - on the lees. It is made by the traditional method from the Gouveio variety, one of the traditional grapes of the Alto Douro's cool upper slopes. It's a very refined wine, the delicate fruit profile salty and lemony, but with a tiny floral touch and the long ageing on the yeast adding hints of toast. Crisp and bright on the palate, there's a hint of wheat and toast again, but that lovely dry lemon and orange rind fruitiness is delightful, a very modest 5g/l dosage giving this plenty of bite and raciness, yet it is not at all tart, the long ageing on the lees seeing to that, as well as part of the juice being barrel fermented, to give a certain weight and luxurious richness. Delicious and a huge bargain at its £21.95 price.
(2018) This vintage Brut is a blend of Touriga Franca, Gouveio and Malvasia Fina, with a little Viosinho and Rabigato. It spends a full four years on the lees and has developed fabulous toasty richness - again I am guessing ther is a barrel-aged component in this blend. Moderately deep in colour, the nose is fresh with ripe nutty apple and some floral aspects. In the mouth there's an obvious sweet ripeness from the fruit, but there's nothing blowsy or cloying here, the buoyant, clear fruit cut through with a fat lemony acidity that is deliciously easy to drink into a long finish. The extra lees and bottle age makes this another stand-out bargain at under £20.
(2017) It's nice to know that the wines of Pinalta are available in the UK, some time after I wrote about them when they had little UK distribution. This blend of Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz and Tinta Barroca is unoaked and made using only ambient yeasts - the name 'Oçitsac' meaning 'unadulterated'. There's a soaring, fresh, vinous nose of cherry and kirsch, taut black berries and a touch ozoney, minerals and spice. In the mouth it is full and ripe, the dense sweetness of fruit set against creamy, plush tannins, and a framework of acidity that gives some agility and length.
(2017) Made from 100% Loureiro, this is in effect a sparkling Vinho Verde, coming from the same region of Minho that runs from the Douro to the Spanish border, and made from one of Vinho Verde's mainstay grape varieties. There's an attractive lemony zest to this, a crispness to the mousse, with plenty of pert apple fruit and a hint of straw and flowers. Nine months of secondary fermentation in bottle adds a little creaminess, but it stays fresh and zippily moreish.
(2017) Another fabulous and just nicely maturing wine in the wineline's rosta, this is 100% Semillon from the Douro, described as late harvest, but surely with some Botrytis given the lush barley sugar richness and intensity. Aged in barrel, it's very much a Sauternes-like recipe, and indeed the nose with notes of honey and leaf tea, a hint of tobacco and some fragrant floral nuances has that complexity. In the mouth it is silky-textured and mouth-filling, the fat apricot cut by Seville orange, with a long, creamy, but tantalisingly fresh finish.