Rui Madeira, Douro ” is part of a younger generation of Portuguese who are setting the pace for the rising quality of the nation’s table wines.” Wine Spectator
Until such a time as Gonduanaland gets its own AOC, there is only one undiscovered fine wine region in the world – Portugal. It will be discovered, because the wines are so good, individual and interesting that it is only a matter of time before journalists realize that they don’t have to work hard to come up with ‘original’ copy. In the meantime, we as wine merchants can offer these wines at exceptionally reasonable prices, given their intrinsic quality and future potential. The fact is that Portugal missed out on the previous wine ‘revolution’, and so failed to rip up all their indigenous vines and replant with Cabernet, Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc in a desperate attempt to compete with the worst that Chile can offer. Now, when a few people are rediscovering the values of individuality and variety, they are way ahead of the competition. It does, of course, require winemakers of talent to bring out the potential of this heritage, which is why we are focusing on Rui Roboredo Madeira.
Price is per case of 6 x 75cl inclusive of VAT. Delivery is free within England over £200. Wines due to arrive end of March or early April.
10% Discount on 24 bottles or more, maybe mixed. E & OE
Rui Roboredo Madeira, São João da Pesqueira
“Rui Roboredo Madeira is part of a younger generation of Portuguese who are setting the pace for the rising quality of the nation’s table wines.” Wine Spectator
Rui Madeira (his name, not location!) is immersed in the Upper Douro by both birth and experience and has set about renovating some of the old vineyards in the area with the aim of producing modern wines that nevertheless preserve the character and ageing potential of their predecessors. Nothing changes faster than tradition and, being a true traditionalist, Rui is never afraid to innovate and experiment, always, however, with a deep respect for the conditions in which he is working and the raw materials at his disposal. The wines below range from totally new blends to the field blends of old, and from ‘micromanaged’ technical vinification to the old-fashioned, ‘laissez-faire’, so-called ‘natural’ approach to vinification, to which the vines of the Upper Douro seem so naturally suited. Somewhere along this spectrum, you are sure to find the wine of your dreams.
Quinta da Pedra Escrita, Duriense
An estate in Freixo de Numão, in the Douro valley, that has been in the family for eight generations, and which Rui renovated in 2007. The name (engraved stone) presumably refers to the Palaeolithic rock art for which the Coa valley is famous. The vines are organically grown on very sandy, granite soil at an average altitude of 575 m. The soil is very poor in nutrients, giving rise to wines of great complexity. A wine that would qualify as Douro Superior, but Rui prefers to use the slightly less restrictive ‘Duriense’ denomination, presumably because it is looser and allows the use of ‘foreign’ grape varieties. Vinification, however, is as strict as you can get.
2019 Branco – £75
35% Alvarinho, 30% Verdelho, 30% Rabigato, 5% Viognier. The grapes are placed into small (15 kg) perforated boxes and very gently crushed and pressed under an inert atmosphere to preserve all the aromas. The wine is fermented at 16 °C in used French oak barrels, where it remains for 6 months with regular stirring of the fine lees (batonnage), before being blended and bottled in the Spring.
Pale yellow tinged with green; complex on the nose, with citrus, peach stone, apricot, white flowers, grapefruit, melon and a slight smokiness. Intensely fruity on the palate, with apple showing through. Vibrant, mineral acidity, but very well balanced. Medium long finish, very clean and complex. Great with fish or shellfish and delicate poultry dishes.
Beyra, Vinhos de Altitude, Vermiosa, Beira Interior
The Douro Superior denomination is very restricted for, it appears, solely historical reasons. For a long time, the river was the only way up or down. Then the railway opened things up a bit, but still only along the river valley. More recently, EU investment in roads has opened up the whole area to exploitation. It turns out that the Portuguese, being Portuguese, had been growing wine grapes all along, but nobody had noticed. Now, these vines are accessible. Just to the south of the Douro valley, not too far away but up in the air, lies the high plateau of Beira Interior. The altitude allows uninterrupted exposure to the sun, leading to high levels of sugar, but cool nights that enable a more gradual ripening of the grapes, with a consequent increase in flavour and concentration and the retention of acidity. This estate, where Rui completed his first harvest, consists of 15.7 hectares at altitudes up to 750 m and uses native varietals that are well adapted to the extreme climate. The wines themselves are all about contrast, a balance of extremes. They are bursting with personality, great now but with untold promise, which at these prices is just about unheard of today.
2019 Reserva Quartz Branco – £135
60% Fonte Cal, 40% Síria (I don’t know either) grown on granite soils with quartz veins at an average of 725 m. The grapes are destemmed, whole-cluster pressed and fermented with native yeasts at 16-17 °C for 20 days, followed by 6 months ageing in stainless steel.
Attractive golden yellow. Very sweet and inviting on the nose: apple blossom, peach, citrus (lemon, grapefruit), honey, vanilla, caramelized almonds; nothing to prepare one for what’s to come: apple and citrus dominate in the mouth, with an absolutely electrifying acidity, nevertheless well balanced by the intense ripeness of the grapes – a ‘nervous’, taut structure that promises good ageing potential. Medium-long finish, very crisp and refreshing, with fruit and citrus flavours. Wonderful now with shellfish or oily fish (fresh or smoked), poultry, spicy food and ewe or goat milk cheeses. Would also be good with fatty foods like old-breed pork and goose, but will be even better after a year or two.
2018 Beyra Tinto, Beira Interior DOC – £75
Tinta Roriz 80%, Touriga Nacional 20%
A lovey drop, good aromatics, nice fruit – ripe with soft tannins and good balance. It doesn’t have the weight and excitement of the Reserva perhaps, but it is terrific value.
Deep purple red. Fairly aromatic, with cherry, plum, red berries, spice, a touch of caramel. Good acidity with ripe tannins, juicy and fresh but well balanced. Medium finish, fruity but clean.
2018 Reserva Tinto – £99
90% Tinta Roriz, 10% Jaen (known as Mencia in North-West Spain) grown on schist soils at an average altitude of 700 m. The grapes are destemmed, crushed and cooled, followed by fermentation at 22-26 °C for 7 days and 8 months ageing in used French (1/3) and American (2/3) oak barrels.
Deep ruby red; red and black berries on the nose, with pear drops, vanilla, liquorice (turning towards fennel later), spice, hint of old wood, toast. Still a little closed, but nonetheless already quite forward. Concentrated, intense flavour in the mouth, with good weight, lovely ripe, chewy tannins, excellent structure, slightly round, and a long, clean, fruity finish, developing chocolate and orange notes with time. Very appealing, although best with food (grilled or roast meat, spicy meat dishes, cheese).
2019 Natural biológico, Beira Interior DOC – £113.70
We have tried a number of ‘natural’, i.e. minimally interventionist, wines, and mostly they don’t meet our standards. The two that do have both come from Portugal, which we tend to think is a product of both the thought that is given to the production of such wines and, probably more importantly, the fact that they come from blends that have always lent themselves to such treatment.
Not from the Beyra Estate, but the same region, from an old-fashioned field-blend of selected vines from around the parish of Vermiosa. All very ‘natural’, no irrigation, organic viticulture, spontaneous fermentation with indigenous yeasts, no temperature control, minimal extraction, aged in cement tanks. But, it’s really very good: complex and individual, but smooth and gentle. A sort of refined rusticity. Made from Mourisco, Rufete, Tinta Roriz, Borrão, Jaen, Tinta Amarela, Touriga Nacional.
Medium purple red. Still quite closed, but soon opening up to give red fruit, wild strawberry, floral scents of violet/rose, pepper and a sort of earthy base slightly suggesting leather or coriander seed. Fruit and flowers on the palate along with some liquorice. Beautifully round with soft and ripe tannins, a silky texture. Medium long finish with the pepper coming through again. Lovely with food; it has a savoury quality and the pepper kicked in nicely with grilled lamb chops.