Conceito Wines is a family-owned and operated wine estate with roots tracing back to the 1940s, though they did not start bottling their own wines until the 2005 vintage. Throughout their first several decades the Ferreira family sold their fruit to other producers, however when Rita Ferreira Marques joined after studying Oenology and working in Bordeaux, California, South Africa, and New Zealand the mantra changed. Conceito’s estate vineyards are located in Vale da Teja of the Douro Valley in Portugal, and they encompass 86 hectares (213 acres) across five separate sites. The climate of these vineyards is rather cool, augmented by high elevations between about 1,500 feet and 2,000 feet above sea level. All viticulture is organic without the use of pesticides or herbicides, while winemaking is of the minimal intervention approach. Each Conceito wine is meant to showcase the unique terroir of their sites in Portugal, and the portfolio consists of a flagship Conceito range as well as two Contraste bottlings (a red and a white) meant for more “relaxed” consumption.
Today’s Wine: 2018 Bastardo
100% Bastardo (Trousseau); 13% ABV
The 2018 Bastardo is pale ruby in color and fairly transparent. I let this evolve in the glass, with aromas of medium intensity and a nose that showcases notes of cherry, black raspberry, licorice, violets, smoked game, gravel, and mild spice. Meanwhile the flavors are also of medium intensity and the palate displays notes of raspberry, red cherry, cranberry, red licorice, graphite, dried green herbs, and black pepper. This dry red is light-bodied with medium (+) acidity, low tannins, medium alcohol, and a medium (+) length finish.
Price: $35. From quality, balance, and complexity standpoints I think this is very fairly-priced though there are better “values” out there. A lot of the Trousseau I’ve had seems to range from $25 to $45 and this fits right in the middle, but I do think several closer to $25 drink just as well as this one. Nonetheless this is a great and fun wine that can open you to more high-quality wines Portugal has to offer.
Prats & Symington is a joint venture established by the Symington family of Portugal and the Prats family of Bordeaux in 1999. Located in Portugal’s Douro Valley, Prats & Symington was created to showcase the possibility of creating world-class non-fortified wines from the region by employing long maceration and winemaking techniques common in Bordeaux. The estate consists of two owned vineyards, Quinta de Roriz which is a historic 42 hectare (104 acre) vineyard dating to 1565 and Quinta da Perdiz which is 23 hectares (57 acres). Both vineyards are planted largely to Touriga Nacional and Touriga Franca, however they also include smaller plots of Tinta Roriz, Tinto Cão, Tinta Amarela, Tinta Barroca, and Tinta Francisca which can all occasionally be included in the blends. All fruit is hand-harvested and carefully sorted before fermentation begins in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks. Chryseia then ages in 400-liter new French oak barrels for 8 to 12 months, which is relatively short to avoid adding significant oak influence to the wine.
Today’s Wine: 2016 Chryseia
60% Touriga Nacional, 40% Touriga Franca; 14% ABV
The 2016 Chryseia is deep purple in color and nearly black at its core. I decanted this for about an hour and drank it over the following hour or so. The aromas are of pronounced intensity, and the nose showcases notes of blackcurrant, blueberry, blackberry, violets, black licorice, thyme, mint, slate, and a hint of vanilla. Meanwhile the flavors are also of pronounced intensity, and the palate displays plum, blackberry, cassis, sweet tobacco, anise, dried herbs, pepper, and mocha. This dry red is full-bodied with medium (+) acidity, high tannins, high alcohol, and a long finish. Quite enjoyable now with the air, though this should develop nicely over the next five years or so.
Price: $70. While no doubt a high-quality, delicious, and fun wine produced in a region known for Port, I struggle to tag this as a great value wine given the price-point. This is somewhat big and jammy for my personal tastes as well, but I did enjoy it.
Churchill’s is a relatively young Port wine company, founded in 1981 by John Graham which made it the first to be established in 50 years. Though John comes from a long lineage of Port winemakers of Graham’s, he wanted to start his own venture to explore his own individual style of Port. Named for his wife, Churchill’s produces Port wines using as much natural fermentation as possible and as little fortification brandy as possible. In 1999, Churchill’s expanded into the production of Douro wines by acquiring Quinta da Gricha. All of Churchill’s wines are produced with Grade A (IVDP’s highest quality rating) native grapes and for Port are hand-sorted at the winery before being crushed and vinified in open granite fermentation tanks called lagares. Foot treading is utilized to provide a gentle maceration of the grapes and skins, and the traditional winemaking practices as a whole alongside minimal intervention results in dry, well-structured wines.
Today’s Wine: 2012 Grande Reserva Douro
Field blend of Touriga Nacional, Touriga Francesa, Tinta Roriz, Tinta Francisca, and Tinto Cão; 14% ABV
The 2012 Grande Reserva is slightly transparent and medium purple in color. Once this opens up, the nose showcases aromas of plum, stemmy blueberry, cherry cola, violet, sweet tobacco, rocky earth, wet slate, green vegetation, and black pepper. On the palate, I get notes of blackberry, blueberry, juicy black plum, black raspberry, cocoa, mint, damp loamy soil, iron, nutmeg, slate, and a hint of oak. The wine is full-bodied with medium (+) acidity, medium tannins, and a medium (+) length finish.
Price: $32. This is a really solid value from the Douro Valley that is drinking very nicely right now. Pair this with steak, a good burger, or game (particularly wild boar or venison).