This is a new product from the historic Madeira house of Blandy's, and a daring one at that. Breaking from an exclusive monovarietal tradition, this modern Madeira is a 50/50 blend of Malvasia and Bual, aged in the traditional cask-and-loft canteiro system for 5 years. Potent fruitcake, rancio notes, aged wood, sugared plums and maple syrup coat the round and juicy palate, thankfully lifted with a lime marmalade cut and carried by a smoothed, sweet mid to a fiery, orange-oil finish. Ideal for cocktails. This is ready to drink now, particularly if you're looking for an alternative to youthful tawny Port or sweeter Oloroso (and in a pocketable 200 ml size).
One of the Fabulous Wines series, Dialogo is enjoyed around the world (Branco and Tinto) under many different names. The line was begun in 2004 when Dirk wanted an appealing Douro label for the German market. Working with his designer, they devised a whole comic storyboard label called FABELHAFT. After the success in German markets, Dirk developed labels for many other countries including Canada (Dialogo), Drink Me (UK) and Twisted (USA). As you can expect with such a global spread, this is a bright, accessible wine. Youthful raspberry, blackberry, wild blueberry and thorns ride a juicy and jubilant palate, brought back to earth by earthy, savoury and youthfully fierce, fine tannins. Based on Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz, Touriga Nacional, Tinta Amarela and Tinta Barroca, the destemmed grapes fermented in stainless, where 95% remained for a year (the remainder in older French oak barrels). This achieves enough savoury seriousness while achieving juicy drinkability ― no small feat.
Portugal’s Douro Valley is the home of the fortified wine, port — but today some 50% of the wines produced in this region are table wines, made from the same grapes as port. Deep ruby in colour, the wine has a dusty, earth, blackberry bouquet with a note of oak; it’s full-bodied, dry and savoury, with plum and mulberry flavours tinged with oak spice and ending with supple tannins.
Crasto Superior is where the portfolio really starts complexing with the reds, with a mix of field-blend old vines and the intriguing Sousão blended with Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca and Tinta Roriz. This comes from Crasto's Douro Superior estate, Quinta da Cabreira, and spent 1 year in French oak. The wood is felt, but matches the potency of the cassis, cherry, raspberry and blackberry. Tannins are chewy and ripe and ample. Red medicinal fruit weaves throughout; a resinous herbal note permeates the concentration and lingers on the finish. Youthful, dense and powerful now, and best enjoyed with some time in cellar or a decant and roast lamb.
A vintage port you can drink now with pleasure or hold for 10 years. Dense purple-black in colour with a spicy blackberry/mulberry nose and evident spirits on the nose; full-bodied, sweet mulberry, well-extracted, rich and full on the palate.
Loureiro and Alvarino are the 2 best varieties used in Vinho Verde. This example shows grapey green scents with fresh green herb on the nose and lean green fruit on the smooth palate. Finishes with a touch of stony mineral.