|Sunset view of Lisbon from the Castelo São Jorge.|
My home base would be the beautiful city of Lisbon, however, I wasn't flying all the way across an ocean to just walk around and look at pretty buildings (I am a professional Wineau after all) so I figured I'd journey to parts of the nearby Lisboa and Setúbal wine regions, and see what I could find.
|Palace of Pena, Sintra|
Colares is at the westernmost tip of continental Europe and is therefore subject to a strong Atlantic influence, and the region is primarily known for the unusual Ramisco (rem-ISH-koo) grape which produces very highly-tannic reds. It grows well on a 500m strip of sandy soil near the water, and was never attacked by Phylloxera, the root louse that devastated European vineyards in the late 1800s. Because of that, neighboring wineries at the time started saying their wines came from unblemished Colares, and the Adega co-operative was formed to protect the region's reputation.
|Historic quotes about Ramisco on the wall above aging barrels.|
For white grapes, Colares winemakers focus on Malvasia, which is a white grape found throughout the Mediterranean. However, this one is "its own type," as winemaker Francisco Homem de Figueiredo said; giving it distinction from the other Malvasias out there beyond where they're grown and how they are cultivated.
|New and Old style Crush/Destemmers|
|Classic stone lagares.|
|Late 19th C aging building.|
To the reds! The 2001 Ramisco was a light garnet color, with a very dusty/musty nose of dried cherries. It was fairly light with an "interesting ride:" forward fruit, then tannins came through, then the fruit rose to prominence again. It was high in acid and had very grippy tannins. Francisco thought this was almost there, "Fifteen to twenty years after the harvest is when it has its best expression." €13-14 (some US vintages around $40.)
I really loved the 2006 Ramisco. It was a medium garnet color, with an intriguing nose of iodine and cranberry. There were herb and floral notes as well, and it showed more fruit expression, with Asian spice and pepper on the finish. Really lovely. €10-10,50 (some US vintages around $40.)
Finally, the 2011 Chão Rijo Tinto, which was 80% Castelão and 20% Tinta Roriz. It was a medium ruby color with a berry salad nose, bright acid in the mouth with lots of fruit and very soft tannins on the finish. At about €3,50 it was an incredible value! (US 2009 & 2010 ~ $16.)
|Adega Regional de Colares wines ready for sale.|
After my tasting, I thanked Francisco, who gave me one more wine as a gift - a 2007 Blend of Arinto and Malvasia commemorative bottling (which I served at my New Year's Eve dinner party alongside a portobello risotto recipe from Lisbon's wonderful Cantinho do Avillez restaurant. It was gorgeous!)
|Palacio Nacional, Sintra|
All in all, it was a perfect day. And I had another wine trip coming up the next morning... so stay tuned.