Boston Wine Expo notes pt. 3 — Portugal

Tasting notes from the Boston Wine Expo. Because of the rather large number of notes, the usual supplemental material has been eliminated; contact me if you have specific questions about a wine. Also, please keep in mind that this was a large, crowded tasting at which a certain efficiency was a necessity; these are notes based on short takes (except where noted), and not necessarily the ideal conditions in which to render definitive judgments.

Part 3 – Portugal


Quintas de Melgaço “Terra Antica” 2004 Vinho Verde (Portugal) – Crisp lime and green apple. Very pure.

Castelo Branco “Quinta da Murta” 2004 Bucelas (Portugal) – Gorgeous, full-fruited green apple.

Quinta do Serrado “Solar” 2004 Vinho Verde Alvarinho (Portugal) – Creamy lemon and apple; smooth to the point of being sticky.

Herdade Grande 2004 Alentejano (Portugal) – Mercaptans and fizzy, ripe apple. Crisp and long, this eventually gets better despite the skunk.


Quinta do Alorna 2003 Ribatejano (Portugal) – Chewy peanut butter overwhelmed by dense, wood-like tannins (though I don’t know that this wine has actually seen any wood).

Quinta da Cortezia “Vinha Concha” 2003 Estremadura (Portugal) – Sour cherry and plum. The acid is low, but otherwise this at least makes a nod in the direction of balance.

CA do Sanguinhal “Peninsula” 2003 Estremadura (Portugal) – Sulfur on the nose; thick, purple and fruity with mildly green tannin on the palate.

CA do Sanguinhal “Quinta de S. Francisco” 2001 Óbidos (Portugal) – Hard blueberry skin and strawberry seed; tough but good in its angry way.

SA do Casal de Tonda “Quinta dos Grilos” 2004 Dão (Portugal) – Black leather and blackberry with ripe tannin and nice balance.

Herdade Grande 2002 Alentejano (Portugal) – Gorgeous plum and black cherry over black earth-flecked morels. Lovely and structured with a long finish. Terrific.

Bastos Estremox “Dona Maria” 2003 Alentejano (Portugal) – Spicy and almost pétillant. Fades and thins quickly to plastic on the finish.

Vinhos Douro Superior “Castello d’Alba” 2003 Douro “Reserva” (Portugal) – Solid, purple and grapey with oddly stewed tannins and slight greenness (manifesting as thyme). The acid’s a bit high and not entirely integrated, either.

Erdade de Malhada “Casa de Santa Vitoria” 2003 Alentejano (Portugal) – I’m not confident that I’ve correctly transcribed the name of this winery. Fruity blueberry and some cotton candy smoothed by a vanilla sheen. Good, if a bit tannic.

Quinta Nova da Nosa Senhora do Carmo “Casa Burmester” 2002 Douro “Reserva” (Portugal) – Earthy porcini, black cherry and chocolate with excellent balance and structure. A more modernistic style than many of the previous wines, but quite good.

Caves do Salgueiral 2003 Douro Andreza (Portugal) – Coconut and soupy, overripe fruit with hard tannin.


Gould-Campbell 2000 Porto (Douro) – Dark cherry and sweet walnut spice. Beautiful. Perhaps too beautiful.

d’Oliveiras Madeira Doce (Portugal) – Mildly oxidized celery and other assorted yet weird vegetative aromas. There’s good palate balance, but I don’t much care for what’s being balanced.

d’Oliveiras Madeira 10 Anos (Portugal) – A touch spritzy, with spice and loads of baked carmel apples. Complex and long, with the usual great acidity.

d’Oliveiras Madeira 15 Anos (Portugal) – Dusty spiced cedar with more body but also more wood than the 10-year, showing roasted walnuts, roasted pecans and fresh cashews with a zippy, long finish.

Burmester “Jockey Club” Porto “Reserva” (Douro) – Faded and gummy sweetness with fake-tasting Juicy Fruit™ flavors. No good.

Burmester 20 Year Tawny Porto (Douro) – Very spicy banana. Long, sweet and simple, but tasty.

Burmeister 1985 Colheita Porto (Douro) – The usual mélange of baking spices with slightly papery oxidativeness; balanced and fine but not superior.

Burmester “Sotto Voce” Porto “Reserva” (Douro) – Sticky blueberry and plum with cherry residue. Overly syrupy.

Burmester 2000 Vintage Porto (Douro) – Very fruity, showing blackberry and black cherry. There’s excellent sweetness and fruit presence, but it lacks structure. The finish is long and quite sweet.


  • Brewnoser

    February 11, 2006

    Any words in a “sum-up” of the overall impression Portugal left? I was there recently, and found my self impressed by the Syrahs I found (Quinta do Monte d’Oiro in particular, both the first and second wines).

    Those and the white wine from Alentejo, of a style I think you found amongst the ones you had – the one I like in particular was from Herdade de Cartuxa, a creamy, but lemony (like lemon pie filling) white that was a wonderful match to seafood.

  • Thor Iverson

    March 1, 2006

    Well, this was the portfolio of a specialist Portuguese importer who’s worked a number of different roles in this market, so I can compare it to his earlier work (much of which is still held by his previous employers) and say that there’s still a lot of work to be done, but that it seems that they’re on their way to doing it. Unsurprisingly, a few go too far the other direction — wood and syrup — but there are some really interesting flavor profiles that are just begging for a little more monetary support to improve the viticulture and vinification.

    But this is all once-removed analysis, as I’ve yet to go to Portugal and figure things out for myself.


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