(2021) A fun and frothy blend of local grapes Bical, Cercial, Arinto and Baga, this is a classical method wine, with second fermentation in individual bottles, but in all honesty there is little evidence of autolysis - the biscuity, nutty effect of the yeast ageing - the wine is rather more like a cross between a decent cava and a Prosecco. Pear fruitiness and sweetish character in the mouth along with a frothy mousse and nice balance of acidity make it a fun summer in the garden contender. It offers decent value at £6.99, though don't expect a fine Champagne lookalike.
(2018) Luis Pato, the king of Barraida wines, is surely some sort of genius, crafting unusual white wines like this from Bical, Cerceal and Sercealinho (a cross of Cerceal and Alvarinho) with 12% alcohol, a modest price, yet capable of such significant ageing. In truth this was a re-discovery of a wine I'd rather forgotten about in my wine racks, but what a treat: aromatically it has so much in common with a fine dry Riesling, that whiff of minerals and beeswax, clear apple fruit, and a lovely sherbet-lemon tang. On the palate it is light and lissome, plenty of zesty acidity but a dazzling fruit-salad palate finishing long and glittering. Note, price and stockist are for a more current vintage at time of review.
(2017) Produced at the Quinta do Baixo estate in Bairrada, Syrah from this region is highly unusual and shows Dirk Niepoort's penchant for pushing the boundaries. And he's done that very well with this crisp and agile Syrah, fermented in traditional lagares and aged in large 2500-litre barrels. It is dry with a sense of tobacco-touched red and black berry fruits, a touch herbal and wild, before a palate where the cool finesse of the acidity and lighter tannins give it a refreshing appeal. Really a lovely rendition of Syrah.
(2016) The Baga grape is a real speciality of the Bairrada region of Portugal, and often likened to either Pinot Noir or Nebbiolo. This 'young' example (the equivalent of 'Joven' in Spanish wines I guess, meaning it has spent little or no time ageing in oak), is buoyant and fresh, with a little Beaujolais-like character, crisp and juicy red fruits and a sappy snap of brightness and briary quality. Enjoyable, unpretentious - and bound to please Cru Beaujolais fans. £10.80 for members.
(2012) The first wine in the line up with really obvious oak influence giving toast, cedar and some exotic Sandalwood. Chocolaty and red berry fruit beneath, spice and slightly wild, gamy nuances of the Baga. Lovely freshness in the finish with juicy acidity and tight tannins.
(2012) Outrageously heavy bottle, and a big wine aromatically too: a certain overripe charcter, with a vegetal note too giving lots of layered intrigue. On the palate this offers and explosion of fruit: creamy and rich, but juicy definition too. Silky textured, with soft plum at its core, but plenty of vital freshness.
(2012) What a beautiful nose; laden with fresh summer flowers and hay meadows, bright red fruit and rose hips. Delicious stuff, light- to medium-bodied and so fresh, with a refined tannin structure and delightful clarity. Not a big wine, but a beautiful one.
(2011) Old vine Baga. Slightly closed at first, the black fruits and some supporting older oak add a little more giving roundness. There's meatiness too. The palate bursts into life, with really sweet, punchy fruit that has a fleshy, creamy density. Touches of spice and liquorice from grainy but fine tannins and very good acidity. Fleshy, charming intensity of old vines.
(2011) Trincadeira, Rufete and Touriga. Wonderfully inky, vinous nose, extremely muscular and sinewy with such solid black fruit, but edged with touches of kirsch and violet. There's a little coffee and game adding yet another layer. Delicious palate, the pin-point accuracy of the fruit continues, with tight, glossy depth and that edge of muscular, tight tannin. Long through precision, not brute force.