Tasting T2.17 Portuguese Blends from Alentejo & Douro

This tasting was one of intrigue more than anything else. As I am sure you are all aware Portugal is famous for its Port. However, it also makes many extremely good white and red wines. Generally speaking most white and red wines are blends. We are going to be focusing on red wines from the regions of Alentejo and Douro if that was not clear from the title!


The Douro is home to many a grape variety, all native to Portugal. These include but are not limited to Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional, Tinta Barroca, Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo) and Tinta Cao. Whilst Port is obviously the most famous wine from the region, there has been a huge increase in dry red wine being produced. Quality reds are not easy to come by but are certainly being produced more and more. The Douro valley is a UNESCO world heritage site due to its impressive terroir. The hills along the river have been worked by hand since the time of Jesus. 2 of the wines we tasted are from the Douro.


The Alentejo region again has many grape varieties with the main ones being Touriga Nacional and Touriga Franca along with the Douro Valley. It is very similar to California in that there are many hills with lots of hot temperatures and lots of sun. There are lot of progressive wineries in this area and some top quality wines being produced because of them. We have 5 wines from this region that we tasted making up 7 in total.

The Wineries are:


The Estate was originally built at the end of the 14th Century but has had many changes over the years as one could imagine. When Antonio Macanita acquired the estate in Paco he also undertook a responsibility to restore and maintain the buildings. It was thus discovered that the cellar underneath is one of the oldest cellars in the world. Sustainability and quality is at the heart of this Estates mission.

Herdade do Esporao & Quinta Dos Murcas

Jose Roquette founded Esporao and has since passed it down 3 generations of his family. This winery was started in Alentejo with the sole desire to make the finest wines in Portugal. In my humble opinion, so far they are doing an exceedingly good job. Once again social & environmental responsibility are at the heart of their core values. Their range of wines are very good and they have since created three other wineries in Herdade do Esporao & Quinta dos Murcas which we tasted one of the wines from both wineries. The third is Quinta do Ameal.

Herdade de Malhadinha

Situated in Albernoa Beja in the heart of Biaxo Alentejo the estate spans roughly 455 hectares. Owned by the Soares family since 1998 they completely transformed the estate and gave it much needed life and TLC. Organic farming is practiced here in a very unique form as this is also a fully functioning farm as well. Olive groves, cattle and vegetables are grown across the estate. All of the labels on their wines are drawn by children with disabilities in order to raise awareness… quite lovely really.

Casa Ferreirinha

Very much a leader in the non-fortified Douro wine industry. Casa Ferreirinha has been making quality wines for 250 years. The winemaker at the helm now is Luis Sottomayor who joined the team in 1989. This estate utilizes science, technology and the passion from Sottomayor to create some of the best wines in Douro.

Herdade do Mouchao

Once an estate for cork production, in 1901 John Reynolds started building family housing and agricultural buildings and wine was first produced. The wines were sold in bulk until 1949 when Albert Reynolds (nephew of John) bottled the first wines. In 1954 it was the first harvest to be labelled with Mouchao and to be sold in the capital. Over the years it has become a name synonymous with quality. By having a small range of wines this has meant that the estate really can concentrate on each wine as meticulously as possible.

Quinta do Mouro

Having gained money through poker winnings this estate was bought by Miguel Louro in the late 1970’s. He rebuilt the estate and planted the first vines in 1989. Miguel is the soul of the estate. He has loved, since day one, what he does and it is clear in the wines that he produces. Authenticity is very important to him as is creating a wine that showcases its heritage and terroir as best it can. The estate has gone from 6 hectares to 33 hectares now, with all of the main grape varieties in Portugal found here as well as some internationally known stars!

Tonight’s tasters are David, Harry, Kim, Jen, Marcel & Amanda.

Fitapreta Palpite Reserve 2019

A big blend of Alicante Bouschet 35%, Aragonez 25%, Castelao 17% and quite a few others making up the rest. Grapes are slightly crushed and fall into the vat via gravity with no pumping. Fermentation and then malolactic fermentation takes place with the wine then ageing in French oak for 18 months.  

Note: Aromas of plums, prunes, dark cherries. Vanilla and leather on the palate with those lovely dark berry flavours coming through. Very smooth with firm tannins giving great savoury flavours to the prunes and plummy notes. Good pepper and spice rounds out the medium body with nice acidity flowing throughout the wine. Really nice, really easy with good fruit forwardness.

Esporao Quinta Dos Murcas Reserva 2016

Another large blend of Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Sousao, Tinta Roriz and a smattering of others. Fermentation in granite ‘lagares’ with pressing in an old-style vertical press. Aged in used French and American oak for 12 months.

Note: Herbaceous aromas with soil, blackberry leaf, vegetation and blackcurrants, a cracking nose on this. Light in body but firm in tannin again, these wines are not for the faint-hearted. The fruit stands on its own with herbaceous notes really warming through. The power of the fruit at the beginning however really does invoke Ribena and pure blackcurrant juice. A good long finish with a great robust body.

Herdade de Malhadinha Nova Tinto 2016

Alicante Bouschet 55%, Touriga Nacional 15%, Syrah 15%, Cabernet Sauvignon 8% and Aragonez 7%. Fermentation in stainless steel ‘lagares’ with ageing for 15 months in new French oak barrels.

Note: Dark cherries, blackcurrants and plums with more hints of herbs. On the palate lots of those herbaceous aromas coming through with vegetal notes as well. A good, structured body with firm tannin once again. These are starting to embed nicely however and give the wine a nice smoothness to it. Fruit concentration is very good again with those herbs and dried leaves giving a good savoury finish. This has a good 8-10 years on it but is drinking really well right now.

Herdade do Esporao Private Selection 2014

Alicante Bouschet, Aragonez, Trincadeira and Cabernet Sauvignon grape varieties make up this blend. Fermentation separated by grape variety in stainless steel tanks. Aged for 12 months in 60% American oak and 40% French oak. Once bottled the wine remains in bottle for at least 8 months before selling.

Note: Depth and concentration of flavour on the nose is piercing. Pure dark fruit, blackcurrants and leaves are ever present. On the palate this is exacerbated by touches of vanilla but this is all about the fruit. Weighty in the mouth with tannins nicely embedded giving a smooth but rounded and dense body. A lovely long flavour in the mouth with great blue and black fruit just taking control. This is good and will give great pleasure to drink over the next 8-14 years.

Casa Ferreirinha Quinta da Leda 2011

41% Touriga Franca, 34% Touriga Nacional, 13% Tinto Cao and 12% each of Tempranillo, Aragonez and Tinta Roriz.

Note: Cherries, plums and blueberry aromas with hints of eucalyptus and vanilla. Smooth body with bold tannins and lovely acidity giving good balance on the palate. A great wine that has many years ahead of it but drinking really nicely now as well. There is a good concentration of fruit again with that eucalyptus on the palate really coming out of nowhere because the aromas are very subtle on the nose. Top class with some spice rounding out a lovely long finish.

Herdade do Mouchao Tinto 2011

Alicante Bouschet 70% with Trincadeira 30%. Fermentation takes place in concrete vats, the wine is then transferred to Portuguese mahogany and oak barrels for malolactic fermentation to take place. Once taken place the wine ages for 24 – 36 months in these Portuguese barrels. Once bottled it is then aged for another 24 months before release to the market.

Note: Dark and powerful in both colour and flavour! Plums, prunes, black fruit with leather and hints of vanilla. On the palate firm tannins take control with a very powerful body. Full and weighty with lots of concentration. Unbelievably this is still quite young and whilst drinking very nicely has not yet hit its peak. Another 5 years and it should start to show its true form and will then drink nicely over the next decade.

Quinta do Mouro Tinto 2007

45% Aragonez, 35% Alicante Bouschet, 10% Touriga Nacional & 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. Grapes are crushed in the traditional way using feet. Fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks. The wine is then aged in French and Portuguese oak barrels, 50% new and 50% used.

Note: I am very impressed with this, stewed fruits, prunes and molasses on the nose. On the palate incredibly smooth and supple with seamless tannins adding length and roundness. Soil and mushrooms giving good savoury notes on a luscious and thick body. This is absolutely drinking perfectly and yet will continue to offer pleasurable drinking over the next 10 years easy. What a wine!


These wines were very impressive. That is the key thing to really take away from this, if you just read the notes the scores do speak for themselves. You can find great pleasure in all of these wines and they are all at very different price points. One thing I would mention is that most of these wines, if not all, do really benefit from a few years of age. After all, the first wine we tasted already had 4 years on it. 

Most of the dry wines coming out of Portugal now are able to be drunk after a few years and will most certainly build for a decade minimum. If you have not checked these regions out for dry wines I would definitely suggest it. I think you will be very surprised as we certainly were!

The scores:

Palpite Reserve 2019 – 89 Points

Quinta dos Murcas 2016 – 91 Points

Nova Tinto 2016 – 93 Points

Private Selection 2014 – 94 Points

Quinta da Leda 2011 – 96 Points

Mouchao Tinto 2011 – 97 Points

Mouro Tinto 2007 – 98 Points

We will back next week with lots of tasting notes from another tasting I went to a few weeks ago in London. Lots of American, South American, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Australian, New Zealand and South Africa! A lot to get through… 😉

Thank you for reading as always and I hope you enjoyed the article!

Harry Vernau

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