Friday, March 15, 2019

Vale do Bomfim & Pombal do Vesuvius: Portuguese Delights

With a history extending back to 1882, Symington Family Estates is one of the largest and most important producers in the Douro region of Portugal. They own well-known brands including Graham's Ports, Cockburn's Port, Dow's Port, Warre's Port, Quinta do Vesuvio, and more. The Douro is well known for its Port Wines, but the region also makes some excellent still wines. You can check out one of my previous posts, The Douro River Region: Beauty & Thriving Amidst Adversity, for some background on this area. I received a couple media samples of two of Symington's Douro still red wines, and I was't surprised by their quality.

Quinta do Vesuvio, which can trace its history back to the 16th century, was acquired by the Symingtons in 1989, and its 1000 acre estate is located in the upper Douro. It is considered one of the best, and largest, vineyards in the Douro Superior. The 2015 Pombal do Vesuvio ($28), the winery's second wine, is a blend of 50% Touriga Nacional, 45% Touriga Franca, and 5% Tinto Amarela. The Portuguese term "pombal" translates as "dovecote," and refers to an ancient dovecote, where pigeons or doves were housed, which is in the middle of the vineyards. It was an exceptional vintage, the weather cooperating throughout the year. giving rain when necessary.

The wine went through fermentation in stainless steel, and then was aged for about 10 months in French oak. At only 13.5% ABV, the wine had a rich, dark red color with a pleasing nose of red fruits and floral notes, a touch of violets. On the complex palate, the red and black fruit flavors were prominent, accented by some dusty spices, bright acidity, well-integrated tannins, and some underlying minerality. The finish was long and satisfying, and there was a mild earthy touch as well. Definitely an excellent food wine, with everything from pizza to burgers, steak to pasta with a hearty ragu. An excellent choice to experience what the Douro has to offer in still red wines.

The 2016 Dow Vale do Bomfim ($12.99) is from the Quinta do Bomfim, which was acquired by Symington in 1896, making it their oldest owned estate. The quinta is located just beside the town of Pinhão, and consists of a 130-acre property with over 160,000 vines. This still wine is a blend of 30% Touriga Franca, 20% Touriga Nacional and 50% Field Blend of indigenous grapes. All of the grapes come from the same vineyards they use for their Vintage Ports. The wine spent about 6 months in neutral oak, has a 13.2% ABV, and is an excellent example of the great values you can find in Portugal.

With a dark red color, it possesses an appealing fruity aroma with floral accents. On the palate, there is a tasty melange of red and black fruit (especially cherry and plum), peppery spice with some licorice notes. Mild tannins, a moderately long finish, and decent complexity for this price point. An easy drinking wine which provides better quality than many other wines at this price point. This wine will pair well with a wide range of foods, though it can be enjoyed on its own as well. Highly recommended!

Drink more Portuguese wine!

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