Pinalta says its history began 100 years ago with the birth of its founder, Edmundo Alves Ferreira. At age 14 Edmundo left Portugal to find work, arriving in Paris in 1921. Missing his family and without funds, he returned to Portugal. The story seems not so remarkabe perhaps, but Edmundo made that return journey on foot, walking over 1,000 miles.
I was introduced to Pinalta’s wines by someone closer to home: Edinburgh-based Andrew Norrie. Andrew is blending and marketing consultant for Pinalta, splitting his time between Scotland and Portugal. In fact the Norries are an old family that traded Scottish wool for Portuguese salt cod for many years. When winery manager Hugo Guimaraes contacted Andrew to reveal a plan to use their old stone lagars to make a new range of modern table wines, Andrew became part of the project.
Pinalta now has 20 hectares of vines on steep terraces close to the town of Pinhão, planted with Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz, and Tinta Barroca on schist soils with good drainage. The four ancient stone lagars of their winery have been refurbished and cooling systems introduced, as well as new stainless steel tanks and a barrel cellar. Andrew sent me three from their range of five red wines to taste for myself, from their entry level ‘classic’ red, to the range-topping Sorrir de Sol, of which only 750 bottles are produced.
The wines can be purchase direct from Pinalta. Free delivery on six bottles or more.
(2015) A blend of the estate's grapes, Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz and Tinta Barroca, this is deep and richly coloured, plush black fruits and hints of smoky spice and chocolate are bountiful and attractive. In the mouth that generous, broad character continues, a big velvetty mouthful of black fruit has a nicely earthy and spicy groundwork beneath it, a bit of roughening tannin and good acid balance, in a dense and powerful wine with a balanced finish. Note the price quoted is in Euros direct from Pinalta, not Pounds.
(2015) Beware the 15.5% alcohol in this beefy Douro red, the nose of which is plummy and dark, yet not without a glimpse of the more fragrant character of the Touriga Franca, just a touch of something violet-like and lifted. There's a polish to this too, with some creamy oak supporting. In the mouth it is plush and dense, with spices and, yes, a bit of alcoholic heat. A full and powerful style again, perhaps lacking a touch of complexity. Note the price is in Euros from Pinalta.com, not pounds.
(2015) Once again this wine, a 2012 vintage this time, hits 15.5% alcohol. From a sunny part of the vineyard at the top of the slope, this is made from 'old vines' - a mixed planting of a dozen or more varieties including Bastardo, Moreto, Mourisco Tinto and Rufete as well as more familiar names. Foot trodden as are all of Pinalta's wines, this was aged in small barrels and has lots of gloss, velvet and chocoalte on the nose, there is deep-set black fruit and again a pleasing little lift. Ripe and substantial on the palate, it's mouth-coating stuff but has more flesh and in the end a little more complexity than the Pingo de Lua. Again please note, the price quoted is actually in Euros, not pounds.