So I’ve been trying to write this one for a while. I’ve actually started and stopped it several times, trying to think of the best way to sum up five wines made with the same grape, but with their own unique tastes and profiles. I think, after several false starts that I’ve come up with my solution – my thoughts on the grape and the tasting overall, and then a look at the wines that were the highlights for me.
Alright. Let’s do this.
A crossing of Petit Bouschet and Grenache, the grape was introduced to the Alentejo region of Portugal more than 100 years ago, where the region’s Mediterranean climate allowed the grape to flourish.
Now, as with most people, this was a new grape to me, but one I happily accepted for two reasons. First, I’ll almost never turn down wine from Portugal. Second, I’ll definitely never turn down a chance to try a wine that’s new to me. I like new experiences, and you can’t figure out what you do and don’t like if you don’t try new things…except for liver and onions; I don’t need to try that to know I won’t like it.
Per the recommendations I opened all the wines at the same time, inviting over some friends (because I’m not irresponsible enough to drink five bottles of wine by myself) to share and enjoy some food at the same time. The wines were, I think, a hit. While everyone had their favorites, they were, top to bottom enjoyed and nobody had anything negative to say about them.
The prevailing assessment, and one that I share, is that the wines, despite some nuances, all seemed to exhibit a few similar characteristics.
With one exception (Dona Maria that was a blend of Alicante Bouschet, Petit Verdot, Syrah, and Touriga), the wines were all bright and light of body, but still with intense flavors. I like this, especially as we head into warmer months, as some bigger wines may be great for pairing with summer grilling, but their body, their “weight”, can be a turn off when it’s 98 degrees outside.
Minerals and herb
The other thing that really stood out to me was that despite variations on the intensity and flavors of fruit, the one consistency across the wines were notes of minerals and herbs, especially around the finish. The mineral flavors tended towards wet stone and flint, while the herb notes moved between general dried herbs, and more specific notes of mint. In both cases, this contributed to the lighter feel of the wines, which I think makes them a great option for the summer.
Alright, let’s jump into the standouts for me….
2015 Herdade São Miguel Alicante Bouschet – $23 (SRP)
This was probably my favorite wine of the evening. After I’d tasted everything, and revisted a few to take some additional notes, this was the wine that I kept coming back to. In the glass the wine was a deep ruby color, and on the nose I picked up aromas of red berries, a bite of balsamic, and mineral notes as the wine opened. In the mouth the wine was fresh, bright, and light, with notes of berries and red fruit that gave way to herbal notes.
At the price point I absolutely love this wine. It was great to sip on by itself, but pair it with some roasted red meats or grilled pork and I think this would be a fantastic summer wine, with a lot of versatility and a price point that lets you buy it over and over again.
2013 Herdade do Mouchão Tonel n° 3-4 – $60 (SRP)
This one kinda surprised me. Not because I thought it was going to be “bad” – I quickly realized that these were all incredibly enjoyable wines. No, what surprised me was that $60 made my top 2 list. I’ve done a lot of tastings over the years, and I often find myself either unimpressed with or unable to find the value in what most people would consider expensive wines (yes, I know that for a lot of people, $60 isn’t expensive).
In the glass the wine was a deep garnet color, and on the nose I picked up aromas of mint and eucalyptus. In the mouth the wine was fresh, light, and bright, with flavors of soft fruit and a mid-palate of mint and a lingering finish. It was actually the first wine of the night, and beside the 2015 Herdade, was the one that I revisted the most to taste more. As the night went on, the mint notes became more subtle, but never disappeared, giving the wine a less intense mid-palate and letting the fruit notes shine through more.
To make a long story short (I think we’re past that point, but whatever), I was really impressed with all of these wines. Despite my only focusing on a few here, I don’t want to give the impression that the others were enjoyable or that I wouldn’t be happy to see any of them again.
I loved the weird mix of consistency and variance. Once I knew what to look for I could see where the grape was shining through, but the subtle differences showed how the winemakers were able to put their own stamp on the wines.
Across the board, this was a great tasting, with some amazing values.
Editor’s Note: I received these wines as free samples for review.
The complete wine list:
2013 Mouchão – $60
2016 Herdade do Rocim – $20
2012 Dona Maria – $45
2016 Herdade dos Grous – $25
2015 Casa Relvas – $23