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Charles Metcalf’s Grand Tasting of Portugal: a live blogged account from the EWBC 2009

October 31, 2009

Charles Metcalf Grand tasting of Portugal European WIne Bloggers Conf 2009Next up at the European Wine Bloggers Conference: Charles Metcalf’s Grand tasting of Portugal. Metcalf wrote a book on wine and food in Portugal which makes him somewhat of an expert and certianly a worthwhile guide for a tasting of a variety of Portuguese wines. Certainly he has a lovely accent and voice.

Organizer Ryan Opaz asked Metcalf to present wines that really tell a story about Portugal. As a wine writer from the UK, he’s trying to present a greater understanding of the unknown wines of Portugal. Which means there will be no wines from the Douro.

WINE #1: We’re starting with a sparkling alvarino, similar to the spanish albarino, from the vino  Live Blogging at the European Wine bloggers Conferenceverde region. Forgive me if I butcher some spellings especially as I am live blogging very unfamiliar wines, regions, and who knows what else!

Thankfully, we’re assisted with the site which tells me I am tasting a Coto De Mamoelas Bruto Reserva Alvarinho 2006. It’s similar to albarino, and it’s quite aromatic. Aha! It’s a vino verde–in that that’s a blend. Here’s my ignorance showing–hope it’s a a sweet slip, showing my naivete. It’s only 11.5%! If I could find this wine, I would.

So many firsts this trip! Just today I’ve tasted about 6 new varieties, maybe more. No definitely more.

WINE #2: Next up, a wine from Covela which is in vino verde country but just on the verge near the Douro. It’s a biodynamic vineyard (I don’t think he’s said whether it’s Demeter certified or not).

This wine is avesso, chardonnay, and gewertraminer and since he uses non-traditional vino verde grapes, he can’t call it that.  He also makes an oaked white; this unoaked white os light, refreshing, aromatic and pleasant. Metcalf calls it harmonious and I would agree.

WINE #3: Quinta dos Termos Fonte Cal Reserva in the interior near the Dao. I have already determined I am infactuated with wines from the Dao. I lost which the grapes are here but I am fascinated by it.  Another brand new grape varietal ot me. Portugal makes wine from 250 grape varieties–will I taste them all by Friday when I leave?? I’m going to try!

WINE #4: OMG! Afros Vinhao 2008 made of vinhao in vinho verde. This is a wine to drink with salted sardines he says! I just tasted it and I can totally see drinking it with a caesar salad.  7 acids, 12.5% alcohaol. It BUBBLES on your tongue, no kidding. This winery is working on getting biodynamic. Props. This wine is INSANE. You should see what it is doing to my glass. OK I will do it–try to get  a picture that is. My neighbor at this tasting just sent a pallet to the US of a wine similar to this and he says in Portugal, this wine is served in white ceramic cups.

WINE $5: I’m still recovering from the Afros Vinhao but this, the Barronco Longo Reserva 2006 a red wine of trincadeira, alicante bouschet, and cab sauv, is really great! Gorgeous color, lots of fruit, a super easy drinker. Metcalf says Algarve should be known for more than a place for holiday. Hmmn, this one I finished. That probably tells you more than anything else!

WINE #6: We’re going to swoop back up into the mountains, says Charles Metcalf. And then he’s wildly distracted. I am too! should I facebook this? What to say next? Save! Sooo much to track, tweet, Now he’s talking about pink port which he finds hard to take seriously as wine. And now I know what we’ve got up next in the glass: a red wine from the Dao. And there’s that distinctive nose again. I love this. I guess the Loire is similar? Nor that I’ve had many wines from the Loire… Anyway, Metcalf says the wine whistles round there so fast it whips any fungus that might try to settle there right off. Wines from the DAO I want to just sniff until I own deep in my heart what it is it is saying. This one is 40% touriga nacional.

WINE #7: Malhadinha 2007 which Metcalf says is a lovely modern Alentejo wine. I agree. I tasted it and knew it was Alentejo.  This wine, possibly these wines, need an awesome steak. It’s hearty, heavy, serious. This is a real red wine. (Like other red wines aren’t really red? no…

Fortunately for me and you, I will be spending a number of days in the next week in the Alentejo on a wine tour sponsored by Enoforum Wines. He says you can tell it’s a wine from hot country. Yippee!!

FINALLY-the last wine: A mediera! Okay, I’ve never had one of these before. Because in the US, ok in California, even more specifically Ventucky where I’m from, you can’t find a good madeira. This is a white madeira. This is amazing. (I think I need more adjectives…)  Caramel right off the bat. Wow. The top note is orange blossoms floating on the air through the window in the spring. But when you taste it, it’s orange, more like gran marnier, the best orange liquer. It’s been 5 years in the cask at least. I want to have this while soasking in a hot tub on a cool night smelling the sea breeze. Obviously a sensual wine. Or possibly that as the tasting travels on, I get more effusive, more bold with my descriptions.  This is another new variety for me tonight–boal. Metcalf says “raisiny, nutty” absolutely.

In closing, Charles Metcalf aka @winesinger on twitter sings. Fado? Italian? Regardless of what it is, it’s beautiful and unexpected by me.

Time for dinner at Eleven.

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