Wine and Horses?

By / Magazine / October 7th, 2010 / 1

Two years ago I explored and wrote about the connection between Portugal’s Ribatejo wines and their indigenous Lusitano horses. Quinta do Casal Branco, one of the wineries-with-horses I wrote about, generously gave me a bottle of their 2006 Estate Bottled Ribatejo DOC Vinho Tinto, which I promptly tucked away in my cellar. I stood it up a few days ago and pulled the cork last night.

Accompanying the wine was medium-rare prime rib and organic cauliflower with a parmesan-herb-crumb topping. The kitchen was filled with seductive aromas of roasting meat and toasting cheese as I decanted the wine (yes the whole bottle for two of us… isn’t getting to Wednesday enough reason to celebrate?)

In the glass, it was clear, clean ruby running to garnet on the edges. It smelled of nettles, mature black fruit, especially black currants, and black pepper. The first sip confirmed that the whole bottle would be consumed as this wine was fantastic, especially with the food. Smooth, round, elegant (I was jotting notes as I went along) with sweet black fruit and a soft but beef-ready acidity, this wine had well-integrated tannins that made it easy to quaff. It finished satisfyingly long, with a touch of cocoa at the end. It was perfect.

Grape varietals are Castelão, Trincadeira and Alicante Bouschet (all as indigenous as the horses) with Cabernet Sauvignon. If you can find it, buy lots because we have a long season of roasts, stews and casseroles in front of us, and this wine makes an excellent companion. Decant so that the fine sediment does not mar the clarity of the wine.

See horse photos on my blog.


Brenda McMillan is thrilled by new sights, sounds, aromas and flavours, and old buildings, barrels and friends. She travels at the drop of a corkscrew and is always "just back" from somewhere.

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