A few weeks ago I was the guest of thetaste.ie at Fade St Social where Colly Murray from RetroVino was showcasing the wines from Quinta da Alorna. Representing Alorna was André Almeida, a true gentleman, who explained some of the philosophy behind each wine. The talented chefs at Fade St Social prepared a dish to match each wine. You can read a great report from the evening on the blog of my friend Laura.
I was very impressed with the wines overall, and will give a more in-depth report on the estate in the coming weeks. What did strike me was that the wines were very good value, and were versatile enough to be enjoyed on their own or with food. In other words, they would be great for a barbecue! Here are the “entry level” white and red:
Quinta da Alorna Branco Vinho Regional Tejo 2013 (RetroVino: Fade St Social, Brasserie Sixty 6, Rustic Stone, Taste at Rustic)
This white is a blend of two indigenous Portuguese grapes:
Arinto is known for its high acidity and citrus aromas and flavours. It’s also grown extensively in Bucelas (so much so that it is sometimes known as Arinto de Bucelas) and in Vinho Verde, where it is often blended with Alvarinho and Loureiro.
Fernão Pires has a more spicy aromatic character, often with exotic fruity notes. As well as Tejo it is also grown in Bairrada, sometimes under the pseudonym Maria Gomes.
The two grapes are pressed and vinified separately at low temperature (12ºC) in stainless steel tanks to preserve freshness. The two varieties are then blended, cold stabilised and clarified before bottling.
What this gives is a wine which can pair well with lots of different dishes, as different aromas and flavours from the wine are highlighted by the food. Seafood is well complemented by the lemon and lime of the Arinto and its cutting acidity. Asian and more expressive dishes are well matched by the exotic fruit of the Fernão Pires. Chili and lime marinated prawns on the barbecue would be perfection!
Cardal Tinto Vinho Regional Tejo 2012 (RetroVino: Fade St Social, Brasserie Sixty 6, Rustic Stone, Taste at Rustic)
Not to be outdone, this red is a blend of three indigenous Portuguese grapes: Touriga Nacional (30%), Castelão (35%), Trincadeira (35%)
Touriga Nacional is of course most famous in Port, and now “light” Douro wines, though it’s not the most widely planted grape in the Douro region. Often floral.
Castelão’s name is derived from the Portuguese term for parakeet. It is high in tannin so is often a component in a blend rather than a varietal.
Trincadeira is another Port grape, also known as Tinta Amarela. It produces dark full-bodied and rich wines, with aromas of black fruit, herbs and flowers.
Production methods were fairly similar to the Branco above, with the exception that fermentation took place at 23ºC to help extract colour, flavour and tannin.
This wine is another great example where a blend can be more than the sum of its parts. The tannins are soft and gentle, there are wonderful floral aromas on the nose, and lovely plum and berry on the palate. Just perfect for barbecued beef, or a juicy steak from one of Dylan McGrath’s restaurants!