The elegance and full-bodied freshness of Portuguese wines
By Stephen Quinn, Special to The China PostSpecial to The China Post--Portugal has many natural advantages when it comes to growing grapes. It has a large number of indigenous varieties capable of retaining acidity even in very hot climates. These grapes when blended provide a delightful freshness that produces rich wines.
August 23, 2013, 12:01 am TWN
The country's full-bodied whites tend to be higher in alcohol and richer in texture than wines from France or Italy. Grapes come from vineyards bathed in sunlight because of high summer temperatures. White wines from Alentejo are inclined to be soft and rich, while intense and “minerally” whites come from the Douro. Wines from Dao fall somewhere in the middle.
The 2010 Paco dos Cunhas de Santar is from the Dao region. It is a blend of encruzado, bical and cercial grapes.
This wine's gold color belies its relative youth. It has a strong backbone of acidity with a creamy texture, and offers aromas of cashews and almonds combined with hints of vanilla ice cream.
The encruzado dominates the blend. This grape is restricted to the Dao region, and is one of Portugal's best grapes for making whites. The best examples have delicate aromas and a touch of resin. Amongst its many virtues is the ability to maintain almost perfect balance between sugar and acidity, producing rich and well-structured wines with extraordinary ageing potential. Encruzado is used both as a single variety and as a star ingredient in many Dao blends.
Wines made with bical are soft and typically have aromas of peaches and apricots. In riper years they may suggest hints of tropical fruit.
Cercial is grown in a range of regions, which explains why it has different spellings and characteristics. In the Douro and Dao it is spelled cercial, while in Bairrada it is known as cerceal. In Madeira it is sercial, where it makes the famous fortified wines named after the island.
This is a white wine that would appeal to the kind of person who only drinks reds. Which leads us to the other wine reviewed this week, the Niepoort DODA.