Vineyards and the estuary at Herdade Esporao
|California? Nah, just Alentejo, Portugal|
From the highway, it was about a 25 minute drive to the Herdade at Esporao, and most of that was on their property. I have never seen a wine estate this large in all of my travels to wine regions. At 1,860 hectares (4,600 acres!) the estate is roughly equal to the size of 2.5 Central Parks (New York City). With 450 hectares under vine, there are 189 varietals planted. The remainder of the property is mostly a protected biological ecosystem miraculously balancing and sustaining wildlife and agriculture simultaneously.
|All 9 wines in the lineup!|
|Lunch on the veranda, what a view!|
|Olive oil tasting|
|Miguel Leal, tour guide and driver extraordinaire!|
|The main entree, Cod of course.|
|The Jesus tree, dates to the last few decades BC|
|Red wine going through an initial soak, that is the must floating on top made of seeds and skins.|
|The bottling line at Esporao|
|Part of the barrel room below ground at Esporao.|
|The library of older back vintage Esporao wines|
|The caves below ground at Esporao, yes I tore that steel door off its hinges to get to the good stuff!|
|A sea of wine, yes, that is me next to the blending tanks for scale.|
|Farmers and producers of Alentejo wine, PLEASE grow more of this grape for your red wines, this very well could be THE grape that puts you on the map like Malbec did for Argentina.|
I would like to finish here to ask the Portuguese in the Alentejo to seriously think about making Alicante Bouschet their main grape and to continue to plant and experiment with this grape that seems to be in complete harmony in this region. When I look for an Alentejo wine in stores or in restaurants I look for one made exclusively or with a good majority of the Alicante Bouschet grape in the blend. So should you wine reader!
Duas Castas White 2012
Wet rocks, lime leaf, tropical and citrus fruits, medium bodied, medium + acids, 40% is aged in oak barrels for a few months; the grapes are a blend of Viosinho and Semillon
Assobio Douro Red, Quinta Dos Murcas
Douro sappy red fruit, gets the mouth watering, tobacco, cranberry and spice, simple and easy going; Douro blend of Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz, and Touriga Franca
Licorice, violets, pepper and spice, some green pepper notes, medium bodied with med + tannins; this is a blend of the following grapes: Touriga Franca, Tinta Miúda, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Alicante Bouschet
Made in traditional foot tread lagares; aromas of blueberry, blackberry, black cherry, some teeny bits of smoke and leather, the palate has blood orange, juicy cherry and blackberries. A long and silky finish. Lovely and fine wine.
Juicy and floral, purple notes, chocolate even, med + tannins, medium to full bodied with good acidity, different Syrah like character, but meaty and juicy, lots of elegant purple notes.
Alicante Bouschet 2010
Solid wine of balance and depth, blueberry, boysenberry, a touch of mocha, cigar rapper and sweet tobacco. The blueberry and spice stretches through to a long and persistent finish. Easily the most unique and strong wine of the bunch.
Opulent, young, tight and complex. An elegant nose of red and blue fruits, roasted herbs, a smidge of eucalyptus, black and blue fruits. Medium to full bodied, the finish sails on in bursts of fruit, silky and supple tannins. Well balanced for its size. 18 month in new French oak barrel and 18 months in bottle.