Unusual grapes


Before trying this wine, we were commenting upon how many unusual grape varieties we had been trying recently.  Maybe it’s the saturation of the senses that stimulates the search for something different and unusual. Often it can be a fruitless (pardon the pun) search but in this case it wasn’t. The Bical grape is a popular Portuguese variety of white grape that ripens early thereby avoiding the dampness that can lead to rotting of its thin skin. The wine we tried was Nossa Branco Filipa Pato 2011 (WS £19) and came a-topped with wax capsule, which Richard described as having ‘pretentions to ageing’. Bit harsh, I thought, especially after trying the wine.

A deep lemon in colour, this was wonderfully bright and clear. The high acidity was easily detected on the nose which had some white pepper notes but was whistle-clean. It had the honeyed bouquet of a wine that was old and yet still attractive in its fresh acidity.

The palate was big and long. The lemony acidity was still there but it had a lovely cooked lemon flavour rather than the more obvious acidity. This gave it depth and interest, as did the chalky tones. It was bone dry. Steven Spurrier said it had a ‘faintly honeyed’ intensity, which is echoed by Jancis Robinson, who declares it is faintly reminiscent of a Riesling.

This is a very good wine; we’d gladly have another to try with a strong flavoured white meat dish. It would age well which, in my opinion, justifies the wax capsule.

[Richard: I reviews this wine on the WS website and commented, adversely, on the wax capsule. Soon after I received an email from the buyer advising me that, when opening, I should ‘ignore the capsule’ and just drive the corkscrew through. This works if the capsule is soft but not if it has hardened. I’m still finding bits of wax in the kitchen. Most vins de garde are sold without a capsule. Indeed the whole rationale of ageing a wine is the slow movement of oxygen through the cork. (Geoff – is this right?) So I’m not sure what the purpose of the capsule was here, unless to convey some ‘gravitas’ or similar (see next post). Anyway, lovely wine, perhaps a bit expensive.


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