Down on the farm

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Quinta do Vale Meao is sited in the Upper Douro region of Portugal, a region that is inhospitable to most life forms apart from the growing of vines. Minimal soil, 60 degree slopes of unstable schist, 100 F. heat and malaria are all to be found in this region. Those elements plus a sparse infrastructure (until recently) have kept this area relatively poor. If the Bordeaux chateaux is one end of the vineyard spectrum these Portuguese farms are at the other. But, times they are a changin’.

We gathered round two glasses of the 2009 vintage Q. do Vale Meao last Sunday. We saw intense colours of blood red – ‘brooding’ seemed apposite – with considerable viscosity (14.5%) and smelt aromatic black fruits, lifted by acidity lending the wine some freshness. The palate was certainly weighty, tannic and dry with a medium length but still attractively fruity. This was a big wine in every sense yet not overly rustic. Certainly one to enjoy with strong flavoured foods but I liked its definite character; it proclaimed its region well.

Grapes? A blend of Touriga Nacional 57%, Touriga Franca 35%, Tinta Barroca 5%, Tinta Roriz 3%.

[Richard: a really top-end Portuguese red – at least in terms of price – but I wasn’t much impressed. A peculiarity in that I thought it better before decanting when it had a port like sweetness but this vanished the following day and the wine failed to soften much over the course of an evening.]

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