Wines Of Portugal Tasting

Professional tasting events were more fun when I wasn’t really invited. Before the Organic Wine Journal started, I’d arrange for a pass from a friend in the business and sneak into them. Thousands of bottles opened up and ready to sample – that was a good way to spend the afternoon.

While everyone else was doing the proper tasting, spitting and note taking, I could enjoy a nice glass of whatever seemed good without having to worry about spoiling my palate by the three hundredth glass. The few of us in this mind-set could always spot each other and trade valuable information. “Table 24, purple label, $200 a bottle and they’re almost out.”

Now I’m on the invite list, expected to come away with knowledge and walk out coherently. Yesterday’s Vinportugal event in New York put these new skills to the test. Over 400 wines and Ports is quite the temptation.

While Port gets a lot of attention, I also love Portuguese wines. Crisp, refreshing whites and earthy reds made from grapes you haven’t heard of. That’s a good thing. Organic and Biodynamic winemaking is all about the right grape in the right place. Don’t look for a Cabernet Sauvignon from a region that shouldn’t be growing it.

Only one certified organic winery was at this event. Quinto do Paraíso took a small vineyard in the Dão region and decided to go organic eight years ago. After five years of conversion they got their certification and have been producing organic wine for the last three years. They had three excellent wines we will be reviewing soon; Casa dos Gaios 2005 (70% Tinta Roriz grapes and 30% Touriga Nacional), Casa dos Gaios Reserva 2004 (70% Touriga Nacional and 30% Tinta Roriz) and Grande Escolha Casa dos Gaios 2004 (100% Touriga Nacional).

From the conversations I had with other wineries, it seemed the majority of them have at least discussed using organic methods. Caves do Solar de São Domingos is planning on turning one of their vineyards organic in five years. Others said they investigated it and were told they would never be able to make good wines organically in their particular locations. That always seems to be the consensus from people who sell pesticides.

As I was walking out, one distributor saw my badge and said “Ugh, organic wines are horrible.” He poured me a glass from a double-size bottle. “This will retail for three dollars. It’s going to be bigger than Yellow Tail.” Well, good luck with that.


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