15 Mar 2006

Quinta do Carmo

Lafite Rothschild/Comandador José Berardo
Alentejo, Portugal

THESE WERE the highlights of the 'Wines of Portugal' tasting (held yesterday). I found the explanation of how estate manager Joachim Roque takes to thinning the vine foilage after flowering intriguing, the theory being that sunburn will be kept to a minimum as the plant adjusts gradually to the strength of the sun. Rather like building up a tan in humans...

Apart from Portugese varieties, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah have inevitably been introduced since the 1000ha estate (150ha of that being vineyard) was taken over in 1992.

Don Martinho '03
[£8.95, Waddesdon Manor]
The second wine and oak-free, this was underpinned by ripe berry fruit, soft tannins and a certain degree of fleshiness. Aragonez (Tempranillo) dominated. Amazingly theatrical label. Very good value indeed and drinking very well now.

Quinta do Carmo Reserva '03
[£25, Waddesdon Manor]
Playing a higher cord on the piano, this burnished silver gullwing Mercedes of a wine was more dramatic, with a very dry overall feel. A touch of caramel and coffee came through, though this will take time to open out. A modern classic.