Adega de Penalva is one of the leading cooperatives in the Portuguese Dão region (I gave an overview of the Dão in a previous article here, but in summary it is in the centre of northern Portugal close to the Douro.) The coop was formed in the ’60s and has around a thousand members – that’s a lot of coordination – but with an average of only around 1.2 hectares of vines per member the volume crushed is manageable.
Their extensive main range can be spilt into four categories:
- Red: Adega de Penalva Reserva, Encostas de Penalva, Flor De Penalva, Flor De Penalva Reserva, Jaen, O Penalva, Tinta Roriz, Tinta Pinheira, Touriga-Nacional, Milénio
- White: Cerceal – Branco, Encostas De Penalva, Encruzado, Flor De Penalva, Bical
- Rosé: Adega de Penalva Rosé
- Sparkling (Método Clássico): Milénio Reserva, Milénio Bruto, Milénio Seco, Milénio Tinto Bruto)
As you might be able to parse from the wine names, some are made to be drunk young while others will reward some cellaring. Not featured in the main list are a red and white fun and drinkable pair made (for Portuguese Story) from blends of indigenous grapes: Adega de Penalva Indigena Blend
Disclosure: both bottles were kindly given as samples, opinions remain my own
Adega de Penalva Indigena Blend Dão Branco 2019
This white blend is composed of:
- 40% Encruzado (a speciality of the Dão)
- 30% Malvasia (grown all over southern Europe; the particular variant is not specified)
- 30% Cerceal (aka Esgana Cão (“Dog Strangler”!,) or Sercial in Madeira)
According to Wine Enthusiast, “Encruzado is, arguably, Portugal’s greatest white grape” – and having enjoyed Quinta dos Carvalhais’s Dão Colheita Branco I think it is a fair statement. Here, of course, it is not on its own and has a supporting cast of Malvasia (which adds body) and Cerceal (which adds freshness).
All grapes are hand-picked and winemaking is fairly straightforward; after destemming and pressing, the must is fermented with selected yeasts in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. Maturation is also in INOX – with no wood to be seen – all to preserve the wine’s inherent fruit aromas and flavours.
On the nose it shows a variety of stone fruits and quince, plus almonds and a whiff of the forest (pine? cedar?) Ripe stone fruit return on the palate – peach, nectarine, apricot – but with a zippy fresh finish that literally makes your mouth water. This Branco shows why the Portuguese are so keen on blending – it really is more than the sum of its parts!
- ABV: 12.5%
- RRP: €14.95
- Stockists: Blackrock Cellar; Sweeney’s D3, Fairview; McHugh’s Off-Licence Kilbarrack Rd; Nectar Wines, Sandyford; The GrapeVine, Glasnevin; The Wine Pair, Clanbrassil St.; Baggot Street Wines
Adega de Penalva Indigena Blend Dão Tinto 2017
The blend for the Tinto is:
- 40% Touriga Nacional (the Douro’s (and Portugal’s?) key black grape
- 30% Tinta Roriz (aka Tempranillo, and many other names),
- 30% Jaen (aka Mencia in NW Spain)
The order of the varieties above is from heavier to lighter; Touriga Nacional has the most structure and weight – which is why it is so important in the Douro – with Tinta Roriz being medium bodied and more accessible, and finally Jaen being quite light and fresh. Winemaking is similar to the Branco above apart from the use of lined concrete tanks – in addition to stainless steel – for maturation.
Unsurprisingly, given the above, the wine is a medium intensity cherry red in the glass. The nose has vibrant red fruits – cherry, strawberry, raspberry and cranberry. On the palate these fruits are even more vibrant and juicy, seeming to jump out of the glass. There are also notes of blackberry, chocolate and smoke, all wrapping up in a dry but fresh finish.
- ABV: 12.5%
- RRP: €14.95
- Stockists: Blackrock Cellar; Sweeney’s D3, Fairview; Martins Off-Licence, Fairview; McHugh’s Off-Licence Kilbarrack Rd; Nectar Wines, Sandyford; The GrapeVine, Glasnevin; The Wine Pair, Clanbrassil St.; Clontarf Wines
DrinkStore, Stoneybatter; The Corkscrew, Chatham St.; Jus de Vine, Portmarnock
Yes, these wines are easy to drink. Yes, they are quite affordable. And yes, they have relatively modest alcohol %.
So they definitely qualify as “lunchtime wines” or “house wines”, but they are far more than that.
Such poise, balance and deliciousness has them punching well above their weight!
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