RKS Wine:  Portugal’s Alentejano Goes Beyond Indigenous and My Thoughts On A Corked Wine

In addition to Portuguese indigenous grapes Alentejano wines often throw into the blend some “international” grapes such as Syrah, Alicante Bouschet or Merlot. 

For example the 2016 Flor de Maio has in its blend of Trincadeira and Aragonez some Syrah. It is garnet in color. As for aroma there is black cherry, ripe strawberry, chocolate and cola. There is a bit of cork as well perhaps a bit too much. On the palate an initial little zip of tannins settles down quickly. It is very tight and cloistered with its fruit but there is some blackberry and cherry pie. You might even say the wine has a bit of a juicy finish. Some lean Portuguese wines demand a few years of ageing but given the annoying corkiness of this wine and lack of depth on the palate I would not age and in fact I would avoid purchasing although for your education and interest you may want to try to get a better idea of what “cork on the wine” smells and tastes like. It’s not going to harm you and it is only a slight taint. It took me several years before I had the confidence to detect cork in the wine. The wine is drinkable but any amount of cork is a case for backing away. I will not rate the wine a result of its flaw. This is the third wine this year I will have to return. Do not be afraid to return a corked wine. If you have any pushback issues your retailer is to be avoided. I can get some validation by sniffing the cork and if it has a strong cork aroma that is a hint although some say that test is BS. Now after having visited many wineries in Europe I have met vineyard managers, public relations representatives, field workers and winemakers and having seen their passion for wine one has to respect that and think very carefully before stating there is a flaw in the wine. But respect is no justification for ignoring a flaw in a wine.

(Flor de Maio 2016, Vinho Regional Alentejano, Magnum Carlos Lucas, Carregal do Sal, Portugal, $13.95, Liquor Control Board of Ontario # 427195, 750 mL,13.5%, A Little Birdie Told Me So Rating UNRATED).

Despite my brave words on corked wine I move to a 2017 José de Sousa Vinho Regional Alentejano which is blend of 58% Grand Noir de Calmette, 22% Trincadeira and 20% Aragonez. I have never had a Grand Noir de Calmette before but it was a hybrid developed in France and is used to add some colour to wine. It has more or less disappeared in France but can be found in Spain and the Alentejano. It also has a bit of a peppery finish.

It has a back cherry colour. On the nose some assertive black fruit infused notably with some very high-toned blackberry. I might say the nose is indicative of a muscular wine shy of having its biceps greased and flexed in front of the camera. The tannins are moderate. On the palate there is subdued power again obfuscated by some shyness. It does have a bit of pepper to it with some black licorice layered into it! All said and done this is somewhat of a blunted wine where food is required. Of course having been in Portugal I would say pair with a Alentejano black pig. Or here in North America I once prepared a pork tenderloin roast in a rich tomato sauce served over pasta but I have not had it in years but it just popped into my mind! I would decant for an hour before pouring. It will cruise nicely into 2025 but will its shyness retreat? That is part of the fun of waiting.

This vegan wine was ranked # 56 in Wine Enthusiast’s Top 100 wines of 2019.

(José de Sousa 2017 Vinho Regional Alentejano, José Maria da Fonseca, Azeitão, Portugal, $17.95, Liquor Control Board of Ontario # 494153, 750 mL, 14.5%, Robert K. Stephen A Little Birdie Told Me So Rating 91/100).

Published by Robert K Stephen (CSW)

Robert K Stephen writes about food ,drink, travel, film, and lifestyle issues. He also has published serialized novels "Life at Megacorp", "Virus # 26, "Reggie the Egyptian Rescue Dog" and "The Penniless Pensioner" Robert was the first associate member of the Wine Writers’ Circle of Canada. He also holds a Mindfulness Certification from the University of Leiden and the University of Toronto. Be it Spanish cured meat, dried fruit, BBQ, or recycled bamboo place mats, Robert endeavours to escape the mundane, which is why he has established this publication. His motto is, "Have Story, Will Write."

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