Preparing The Ground For Portugal’s Award Winning Organic Wines
It seems slightly peculiar in a country such as Portugal with its markets brimming with organic produce and historically being a wine-producing country that there are not more organic wines among its domestic and export sales. However, chemical companies are now being spurned by a growing number of producers to the point that for the second year in a row there is an organic wine producers competition in Estoril, located in the central western portion of the country.
In the 2012 competition, there were 203 entries from producers in various countries and only 7 medals were awarded, with 6 of them going to Portuguese wineries as judged by international experts of organic wine. Here is a list of the winners, as well as some others to look out for while shopping.
1. Cepa Pura Aragonez Reserva (2011)
Receiving the highest number of points was Quinta do Montalto’s Cepa Pura Aragonez Reserva 2011 (a medium-full bodied varietal using Aragonez that is also known as Tinto Roriz in more northerly areas of the country).
2. Altano (2010)
Closely following the Cepa Pura Aragonez was Symington Winery’s Altano 2010 from the Douro region using varieties Tinta Barocca, Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz and Touriga Franca.
3. HDL Aragonez (2011)
From Symington’s immense organic wine hectarage to a much more modest operation, a very impressive lion’s share of medals (four to be exact) went to the Herdade Dos Lagos quinta in southern Portugal’s Alentejo region. On the podium were three reds and a rosé; HDL Aragonez 2011, HDL 2011 and HDL Vale de Camelos 2011 using varietals or combinations of Syrah, Aragonez, Touriga Nacional and Alicante Bouschet. HDL Rosé 2011 is a manual vintage using Syrah, Touriga Nacional and Aragonez.
4. Casal dos Jordões Rosé (2005)
To the north in the Douro, nestled on the slopes leading down to the Rio Torto, is the sprawling Quinta da Esteveira that in 1994 transformed its operation to being organic and marketed under a variety of labels, including the Casal dos Jordões label. Their 2005 vintage of Casal dos Jordões Rosé was awarded gold in Le Mondial du Rosé. Also, the award-winning Quinta da Esteveira DOC Reserva made from Touriga Franca and Tinta Roriz displays solid and full characteristics.
5. CM label
Still in the Douro overlooking the valley and bordering the Douro International Natural Park is Quinta das Marvalhas, part of the CARM group that is a collection of a single family’s (Madeira family) quintas in this region. Their reds are intense and complex, but of particular note is the CM label with an exquisite balance of acids and tannins that provide a long and persistent finish.
6. ALR Vinho Verde DOC
The northern part of Portugal is also where the country’s unique Vinho Verde originates, and in the Dão appellation is where one will find Casa de Mouraz, a member of the Renaissance des Appellations (Return to Terroir) group. Their ALR Vinho Verde DOC is an exquisite example of a handcrafted wine with this label being a still variety, but still exhibiting the characteristic mineral content associated with Vinho Verde. This soft wine incorporates grape varieties Loureiro, Tresadouro and Azal.
Appreciating and understanding Portuguese wines does require knowledge of what the various regions offer as well as being aware that the name of a vinifera in Spain may have two separate names in Portugal, depending where it is grown. But doesn’t that just add to the fascination of this portion of the Iberian Peninsula?
Expect to see more organic wine awards going to this rising star country. The wait shouldn’t be long.