Today’s spectacular train journey along the Linha do Douro has deposited me in the pretty town of Pinhão, Portugal. I’m in the heart of Douro wine country, surrounded by terraced vineyards that defy common sense and Quintas whose names shout loudly from brightly whitewashed walls along the river banks. I went to a local restaurant tonight, one that I can recommend highly (the Restaurant bar veladouro), and drank entirely on the recommendation of the house. Why aren’t Portuguese table wines better known? I’ve had several beautiful wines in my two days in the country so far, and I’m quite confident there will be more to come.
Just bottled in June of this year, this is a blend of Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz, Sousão, Tinta Barroca and Tinta Cão. The aroma shows notes that span a range from determinedly odd to almost familiar. Hessian, tart dark berries, sea spray, sap and a subtle sprinkling of fruit cake spice. It’s already busy for such a young wine, although its notes do stand apart from one another somewhat. Still, the overall impression is one of complexity, subtlety and and balance, with juicier berry notes sneaking in over time.
In the mouth, medium bodied with a fine tannin structure and mid-palate that is waiting to relax and please. For now, acid keeps things in good check, such that the experience of this wine remains somewhat linear. There’s a lot of savoury complexity through the after palate. including a contribution from oak that tastes rather raw for now. It’s clearly a young wine, but its components are achingly good in a restrained, modest way. The best is yet to come here.
I enjoyed this bottle of wine with a traditional Portuguese meal of salted cod gratin. An unlikely, but sympathetic, pairing.
Quinta do Vale Meao
Price: €20 (wine list)