Quinta do Vale Meão – one of Portugals best

Once the backbone of Barca Velha – Portugals most famed dry red table wine. But since the 1999 vintage Quinta do Vale Meão has dazzled the wine world with amazing reds in it’s own name. And it is most definately one of the countrys most interesting wines.

It all started way back in 1877 when Antónia Adelaide Ferreira, then owner of the largest wimaking estate in Douro, bought 300 hectares of land in the east of the province at an auction. Her dream was apperently to create a model vinyeard from nothing.

She died in 1896 and could never fullfil her dream but the estate stayed in the Ferreira family. Over the years the port house used the grapes from Quinta do Vale Meão to some of it’s best wines and when the legendary producer decided to make a dry red wine (first vintage 1952) it sourced it’s grapes from here.

In 1994 a new era began. Francisco Javier de Olazabal who had been responsible for the mangement of the Quinta since the 1970s, and his children became sole owners om Vale de Meão. In 1998 he resigned as Maniging Director of A.A. Ferreira S.A. and started to focus 100 percent on his own estate togheter with his oenologist son Francisco de Olazabal y Nicolau de Almeida. Now the wines are produced, aged and marketed through a new company – F. Olazabal & Filhos Lda.

The first vintage was the 1999 and already from the start Quinta do Vale Meao got great reviews and a cult status. It has since established itsef as one of the best wines from Portugal. And for that reason it is aslo quite expensive!

Of the 270 hectares only 65 is under vine and it contains the usual suspects Touriga Nacional, Aragonez, Touriga Franca, Trincadeira, Tinta Barroca and Tinto Cão. And some expermients with among others syrah is on the way.

Quinta do Vale Meao 2008 (around €60 on the ferry between Sweden and Finland) is my first experience of the prestige wine. And it is awesome! A mix of 55% Touriga Naçional, 30% Touriga Franca, 10% Tinta Roriz, 5% Tinta Barroca that are vinified seperately. The wine usually gets between 18-24 months on new french barriques and the wine is then bottled without filtration.

Dark red opaque in colour. Already showing quite expressive aromas of dark berries, herbs (fresh mint), oak and chocolate. Almost portlike with dense and young aromas. Full bodied and superconcentrated on the palate with dark berries (black berries), prevencal hergs and new oak. Elements of vanilla, mint and soft enveloped tannins. Long and powerful finish! Will keep for another 5-15 years. 4,5/5p

My own Summer of Riesling

In the US Paul Grieco and friends at the Terroir Wine Bar has been doing a fantastic job promoting the best white wine grape in the world under the slogan “Summer of Riesling”. Paul started the initiative in 2008 in the smaller of his two bars in the East Village. Last year he expanded the theme to incorporate both his establishments and this year they really have taken it to a whole nother level!

I just love the initiative. No other white wine combines the freshness, the sheer purity of the grape and the marriage of the fruit and the land it has grown on (terroir baby!), or has the longevity of the great Riesling wines (be they dry, halbtrocken, half-sweet or luciously sweet). One thing is certain: we do not nearly drink enough Riesling either here in Sweden or in the US (or the rest of the world for that matter)!

In Sweden we do not have the luxury an offical “summer of riesling” but I (me, myself and I) have done my best to celebrate the greatness of Riesling on my own and promoting it through my blogs, facebook and twitter. And as a lucky coincidence a whole bunch of great Rieslings recently were released at Systembolaget – the Swedish wine and spirit monopoly. Wines that really proves the point! Great Riesling can really the best wine in the world!

Australias Tim Adams in Clare Valley does one of my favourite aussie Rieslings. Their Tim Adams Clare Valley Riesling 2008 combines the New Worlds lucious fruit and upfront tastes of lime and citrus with an almost european-like acidity and elements of kerosene and honey. It is bone dry, fruity and delicious to drink right now but you could also age it with grace.

Weingut Franz Künstler in Rheingau is antoher classic Riesling-producer from a classic region. Their Künstler Hochheimer Stielweg Riesling Old Vines trocken 2009 shows no mercy with it’s hard uncompromising but also focused and delightful europan style. The nose is floral and astonishingly fruity for such a young wine with loads of apples, apple pie and minerals. But the taste is very fresh, young and acidic with an almost bitter smokey minerality and elements of citrus and petroleum. The aftertaste is already incredible but it needs another 3-5 years in bottle to open up with all it’s beauty.

For many Mosel is the quintessential Riesling wine. When Rhein gives you power and structure – Mosel is the epitomé of style and elegance, lighter and more fragrant than it’s German sister wine. I can’t remember that I have ever tasted any of Clemens Busch wines earlier but their  Clemens Busch Riesling vom roten Schiefer 2009 and Clemens Busch Marienberg GG Fahrlay Riesling trocken 2009 are botjh magnificent.

The first one is a bit closed at the moment with gunsmoke and mineral aromas. On the palate it is painfully fresh with citrus, minerals and honey. The elements are not quite balanced yet but it shows true class and will develop in to something wonderful in the years to come. Keep it for at least three to five years before you open it!

Clemens and his wife Rita took over the family estate in 1991. And they got some fantastic vineyard sites in Marienberg and Nonnengarten. Clemens Busch Marienberg GG Fahrlay Riesling trocken 2009 comes from a tiny 1 hectar site in Marienberg. GG is one of those awkward and bewildering quality designations that often confuses the consumer. It is short for Grosses Gewächs witch roughly translates “great growth” and is used by members of the organisation VDP for dry wines from a selected site.

In this particular instance the grapes has been grown on blue slate soils. It feels a lot more developed than the one from the red slate soil above. Still it is hard and young on the palate. It has an almost steely, mineral laden and spritzig taste with green apples, citrusfruit and petroleum. The concentration is astonishing. Light, yet powerful and with a length that defies logic. It has an aftertaste that never ends and it is such a great example of great riesling that I want to cry: “Lets continue the Summer of Riesling forever!”