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.
Les Matheny is a small and relatively new winery, established in 2007 by the husband and wife team of Elise and Emeric Foléat in their hometown of Matheny in the Jura region of France. Emeric spent eight years working with legendary winemaker Jacques Puffeney before he and Elise started their own venture, which today consists of 3.5 hectares (8.6 acres) in the appellations of Arbois, Montigny-les-Arsures, and Poligny. Winemaking here is rather traditional and takes place in a no-frills converted farmhouse, with the resulting wines much more intense and terroir-driven compared to many of the lighter and more “popular” styles of the region. All wines ferment spontaneously in fiberglass tanks, there is no chaptalization or acidification, and malolactic fermentation occurs naturally in barrel. Whites age 4-9 years in neutral oak barrels, while reds age 18-30 months in neutral foudres and demi muids. All wines are then bottled unfined but with light filtration.
Today’s Wine: 2018 Trousseau Cuvée l’Alpierri
100% Trousseau; 13.5% ABV
The 2018 Trousseau Cuvée l’Alpierri is pale ruby in color. I didn’t decant this but simply let it open up in the glass for about 45 minutes to an hour. The aromas are of pronounced intensity, with the nose showcasing notes of ripe red cherry, strawberry, orange rind, violet, cured meat, black pepper, dried green herbs, and nutmeg. Meanwhile the flavors are more subdued and of medium intensity, while the palate displays notes of redcurrant, raspberry, wild strawberry, cherry, charred herbs, black pepper, and crushed rock. This dry red is light- to medium-bodied with medium (+) acidity, medium (+) tannins, medium alcohol, and a long finish.
Price: $48. I think this is very reasonably priced and just needs some time in the cellar to really show at its best. The nose steals the show at this stage, but overall the wine is rather complex, has solid intensity, and great length. Patience will be rewarded handsomely here given the acidity and tannin levels.
The Eyrie Vineyards is a highly-regarded and family-owned winery in the Dundee Hills AVA of Oregon’s Willamette Valley. It was established in 1965 by David Lett and his wife Diana, shortly after David graduated from UC Davis with a degree in viticulture and enology. David planted 3,000 vinifera grape cuttings he acquired from UC Davis and select growers, and he was the first ever to plant Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in the Willamette Valley and the first in the US to plant Pinot Gris. Since he planted these cuttings in a temporary nursery plot, David began the search for his own vineyard land and settled on 20 acres at the south end of the Dundee Hills in 1966. Late that year David and Diana cleared the land and moved their cuttings from the temporary nursery, ultimately producing their first vintage in 1970.
Winemaking at The Eyrie Vineyards is rather traditional, rooted in David’s original belief that the Willamette Valley could produce wines to compete with Burgundy. Fermentation is accomplished using only native yeasts for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, and it proceeds naturally and slowly without the use of artificial temperature control. The Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris, however, are inoculated with a yeast strain from their own vineyards. In barrel (which are very minimal percentages of new oak), the wines experience minimal racking, extended lees contact, and full and natural malolactic fermentation. The wines are also never fined but slightly filtered, and minimal if any sulfur is added.
Today The Eyrie Vineyards consists of five separate vineyard holdings, and they are all certified organic. Since 2005, second generation Jason Lett has been proprietor and winemaker while he carries on the philosophies of his father David before him. To learn more or view the source of the information above, please visit the Eyrie Vineyards website here.
Today’s Wine: 2017 Trousseau
100% Trousseau; 11.5% ABV
The 2017 Trousseau is pale ruby in color with garnet hues. Given some time to open up in the glass, the aromas are of pronounced intensity and the nose showcases notes of cranberry, tart cherry, spiced red plum, lavender, barnyard, fennel, mushroom, green bell pepper, and pine. Meanwhile the flavors are of medium (+) intensity, with the palate displaying notes of pomegranate, ripe red cherry, tart crunchy cranberry, red licorice, graphite, charred green herbs, moss, and wet gravel. This dry red is light-bodied with high acidity, medium (-) tannins, medium alcohol, and a long finish.
Price: $33. I wasn’t sure what to expect with this wine, but I was blown away by the complexity and intensity. The balance is outstanding as well, and this is well worth the price.
Arnot-Roberts is a boutique winery established in 2001 by Duncan Arnot Meyers and Nathan Lee Roberts, two childhood friends who grew up together in Napa Valley. I previously wrote about them when I reviewed their 2016 Que Syrah Vineyard in Boutique Syrah for the Explorer, which I felt is a wine for those looking for a new take on California Syrah. As I wrote before, Arnot-Roberts began with a single barrel of wine the duo produced in their basement and over time grew through the purchase of fruit from renowned vineyards in Napa, Sonoma, El Dorado, and Amador counties as well as the Santa Cruz Mountains. All Arnot-Roberts wines are made in small quantities with incredible attention to quality and they are crafted to showcase the terroir of each specific site or appellation.
Today’s Wine: 2018 North Coast Trousseau
100% Trousseau; 12.1% ABV
The 2018 North Coast Trousseau is captivating deep salmon in color with rose/pale ruby hues in the bowl. It is also translucent, but slightly hazy. Once this opens up, the nose emits aromas of ripe strawberry, wild raspberry, cranberry, red florals, game, dry gravel, and dried herbs. On the palate, I get notes of bing cherry, boysenberry, strawberry, red licorice, underbrush, peppery spice, clove, and stony mineral. This is light-bodied with gorgeous medium (+) acidity, medium (-) tannins, and a medium (+) length finish. 26 barrels produced.
Price: $35. I think this is a great value wine for a number of reasons, namely its quality and how fun it is to drink. This is a variety many people may not be familiar with, and I think this bottle is a great example to explore. Pair this with steak tartare, Basque-style tuna, or charcuterie and cow’s cheese.