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Quinta Do Estanho Struts A Couple

Stephen-R-HeaderBy Robert K Stephen (CSW)

(TORONTO, ON) – Being an unpaid internet journalist I really do cherish samples that may be sent my way. A few kind words from a contact in the Douro, suggesting I was interested in receiving samples from the Douro region to Douro producers, have resulted in a flood of emails and a few bottles heading my way from Portugal; either from the producers themselves or from their Canadian agents if they have one.

Portugal is a land of great red wine and the Douro has an international reputation for producing Portugal’s best red table wines and, for that matter, some of the world’s best red wines. Although, I’d say as far as red table wines go the Alentejo region is now beginning to gain momentum.

Needless to say, Port is only produced in the Douro region. If not, please consider it a counterfeit and misappropriation of an appellation. And its Port wine grapes are crushed by foot in granite basins, called lagares, unlike many Port producers who use mechanized means to crush the grapes.

Quinta do Estanho has been producing wines for several generations and, in 1987, Jaime Cardoso became the current owner. Its wines are distributed to 5 continents and in more than 20 countries. It produces predominately Port wines and a handful of red and white table wines.

The Quinta do Estanho Douro Reserva 2011 is in a very nicely labelled bottle showing, in graphic style, the Douro River and its valleys.

It has a dark garnet colour. The first noticeable facet of its aroma is power. It’s got a superman bulge on the nose. Robust notes of sweet black cherry and meaty dates and figs. Big tannins, too, but not blockbuster ones, as time has softened what once might have been a brutish monster.

I think it deserves at least until 2020 to soften into a real Douro beauty.

Blueberry seems to edge out the black cherry in the palate and, with decanting, the wine softens into a gentler wave of fruit. Medium finish. I’d love some autumn Douro pork or cabrita with those fantastic Douro roasted potatoes. It would also do extremely well with grilled sausage on a bun or, for you Portugalphiles a Franchesina, a sandwich loaded with meats and served with a gravy laced with beer that been simmering for hours.

It is a blend of indigenous Portuguese wines consisting of Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional, Tinta Barroca, and Tinta Roriz, known in Spain as Tempranillo, which may be its origin. Although, some say it was brought in from France to Spain and then to Portugal.

Safe to say Tinta Roriz is not an indigenous Portuguese grape.

The wine was produced in stainless steel with prolonged skin contact and pumping over, then aged for a year in new French oak. No oak shouting at you as it is so well integrated with the fruit and acids.

A perfectly constructed wine. (Quinta do Estanho Douro Reserva 2011, produced and bottled by Jaime Acacio Queiroz Cardoso, Cheires, Portugal, 705mL, 15%, Square Media Group Rating 94/100). There are some 10,200 cases produced and will cost you 10 Euros in Portugal. Sadly not currently sold in Ontario.

We should also try the Quinta do Estanho Douro Touriga Nacional Reserva 2012. As this is not a blend, Touriga Nacional is left like a naked patient awaiting a physical examination. An indigenous Portuguese grape.

A bit darker in colour than the Douro Reserva reviewed above. On the nose, black cherry, fig, dates, and schist, but with a sharper oak note than the Douro Reserva 2011.

It is also sharper and more focused. A very precise wine on the nose with a tiny note of high pitched pine. Let it open up a bit and you’ll be rewarded with an enticing tad of dark chocolate, menthol, and port wine syrup, lovingly prepared for some Douro pancakes.

Medium length finish with a seductive fade. A real Maria Callas of Douro wines.

The wine was fermented in stainless steel vats and aged in oak vats for 15 months, and in the bottle. I’d have to say it exceeds, ever so slightly, the quality of the Douro Reserva.

There are some 10,600 cases produced in Portugal and a bottle will cost you 12 Euros retail.

Hard to sum this beauty up, but perhaps a ballerina on steroids might do the trick. Powerful, muscular, and artistically delicate. (Quinta do Estanho Douro Touriga Nacional Reserva 2012, produced and bottled by Jaime Acacio Queiroz Cardoso, Cheires, Portugal, 750mL, 13.5%, Square Media Group Rating 95/100).

What a pity it is not yet available in Canada but, somehow, someway, by private order, you might be able to bring some of this to Canada. Check online and see what they might be able to recommend.

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