At one time, Mateus rosé was the most famous Portuguese wine in Ontario, but wine drinkers have since become familiar with other products and have acquired more knowledge causing this famous brand to suffer significant loss of market share.
When Portugal was accepted into the EU, funds poured in for research and development. Wineries started to modernize and substantial capital was invested into vineyards to improve fruit quality.
Today, modern Portuguese table wines can compete anywhere with the best.
This brings me to the Quinta dos Roques, actually there are two quintas (Quinta= estate in Portuguese). Quinta dos Roques and Quinta das Maias are owned and operated by the same family. Both estates are under the management of Luis Laurenco, a former mathematics teacher with an analytical approach to viticulture. He wisely employes the services of consulting winemaker, Rui Reguangea, in an attempt to produce world class wines.
Dao is located in the Beiras, a region sub divided into;
Beira Litoral (coastal close to the Atlantic)
Beira Alta (High)
Beira Baixa (Low)
The region is located south of the famous Douro River Valley, where legendary port wines orignate. It is surrounded by mountains ranging anywhere from 200 – 900 meters that protect vineyards from temperature extremes. Rainfall is sufficient to nurture vines, and soils vary from granitic mixed with sand and in some locations with clay.
Generally, Portuguese wine regions yield fruit low in acidity and high in sugar. Dao has a cooler climate yielding high acid grapes, much more suitable to producing food-friendly w and nuanced wines.
In the past quantity-oriented co-operative wineries produced inexpensive entry-level wines, but market conditions are now forcing winemakers to focus on quality rather than quantity.
Dao grape farmers use touriga nacional (the best red grape of Portugal), alfrocheiro preto, tempranillo and jaen (both from Spain. Jaen originates just over the border in Bierzo).
For white wines, malvasia and encruzado are preferred.
Quinta dos Roques has 40 hectares of vineyards and Quinta das Maias 30; both have been converted to monoculture under the management of L. Laurenco.
Previously, vineyards were studded with other cash crops. Yields were reduced, and winemaking including barrel aging improved.
Recently, Mr Laurenco visited Toronto and Montreal to introduce his wines to wine writers. According to him, both Quebec and Ontario are lucrative markets, although to date little marketing activity was initiated.
The qualities of his wines speak for themselves.
Wine writers were treated to a tasting and well-composed and executed lunch at Chiado (864 College Street). In my opinion Chiado is the best Portuguese restaurant in town.
The following wines stood out:
Quinta das Maias Malvasia Fina, 2005 – fruity, elegant, refined with a long aftertaste
$ 17.00 88/100
Quinta dos Roques Encruzado, 2005 – an indigenous white grape that yields medium bodied, flavorful wines with distinct apple/pear aromas and fine acidity.
$ 23.00 90/100
Quinta das Maias red, 2005 – fruity, refreshing, medium-bodied, and excellent with appetizers (cold cuts, pastas with meat sauce, cheese).
$ 16.00 88/100.
Quinta das Maias Reserve Red, 2003 – brilliant red, aromas of berries waft out of the glass, and in the mouth layers of flavour manifest themselves.
$ 34.00 91/100.
Quinta dos Roques Red, 2004 – medium-bodied, fruity, refreshing with a long aftertaste.
$ 16.00 88/100
Quinta dos Roques Reserve red, 2003 – blended from alfrocheiro preto and jaen grapes. Displays excellent depth, refinement and flavours of cigar box.
$ 35.00 90/100.
Quinta dos Roques Touriga Nacional, 2003 – brilliant red, full-bodied with distinct ripe berry aromas, elegant with an excellent finish.
$ 35.00 90/100
All prices are subject to GST and 20 cents bottle deposit. Minimum order one case.
For more information and orders call RK Imports 905 569 6115
Professor B offers seminars to companies and interested parties on any category of wine, chocolates, chocolates and wine, olive oils, vinegars and dressings, at a reasonable cost.