Many of you have already probably heard of the Super Tuscans. The new and powerful red wines being made in the Tuscan region. Wines full of personality and that have finally freed Tuscany from the Chianti complex. In the Douro region there is a similar movement going on. These are wines aiming at perfection, often made in small quantities, extremely powerful and concentrated and that attempt to impress at once but mainly by the promise of the pleasure to come. However, they tend to be rather expensive, often becoming like the super-models we admire and use as a reference point but rarely go out with…The winemakers that are making them have gained a lot of international press fame (including from the wine spectator and most recently Robert Parker) and they are being called the Douro boys. In reality, some of these winemakers are women! Also, and not all of the men are still boys… The older generation is competing with a new one and each wine appears to have a different personality. The only thing they do have in common is their obsession with perfection. When drinking these wines, we really have the perception of how much commitment went into making them. They are courageous wines: these winemakers have invested their souls and there is no margin of error left on the bottle (as there is also little from these wines left in the glass afterwards…).With some friends I organised a tasting of some of these wines. Important names, such as the wines made by Niepoort or the older guard headed by Barca Velha were absent from the match. They did not forfeit. We would have liked to have an ever larger representation but we simply didn’t have the money (and the stomach… we are not wine tasters, we are wine drinkers; in other words we taste by drinking…. And we need to drink with moderation!).
What an evening. Here, is only an initial presentation of some of the wines we tasted.We started with the Vallado Reserva 2003. This is to start almost in heaven. Vallado wines keep having the greatest ratings you can imagine but they still don’t have that much buzz around them. The reason? Well, is it perhaps because they are not that expensive?… I sure hope they continue that way. The 2003 was powerful but extremely elegant. It came dressed in velvet and it was the first time I fell in love that night. Then came the Quinta do Gaivosa, 2003. This a producer (Alves the Sousa) which just makes a new wine after another. Many of outstanding quality, as this one, but there is a serious risk that one will get lost in the middle of all his different wines: wine polygamy can also be risky. I soon forgot all those fears however. The Quinta do Gaivosa 2003 starts by knocking you down with its aroma! You can smell it miles away (“quel parfum”? ). So powerful to our nose (a wine a la Parker) that it takes sometime to start identifying its flavours. The true is that it is perhaps better described as  a wine that constantly changes flavours in the mouth as if it has, somehow, managed to preserve all the different personalities of the numerous grape varieties that compose it. They have not been assembled. They have been kept there in the wine and we are left to delight and surprise ourselves with the changing melodies that this wine sings to us. It can feel quite an erratic date but, at times, it is exhilarating. From Alves de Sousa we also had the now famous Abandonado 2004. I cannot assess this wine. It is like no other I’ve ever tasted. The name abandonado (abandoned) refers to the vines from where it is made. They had been left abandoned for many years. This is a wine not to be drunk but to be eaten. You just feel like chewing wine. If it is better or worst than any of the others I can’t tell. What I am sure is that this wine will not be left abandoned…May be some years from now (how many?) I can finally judge it, if there will be any left. In the meanwhile its price is so high that there is really not much dating possible between the two of us! A similar wine, but more “financially” approachable, is the Vale do Meao, 2004. Drinking this wine is, however, like having a blind date 15 years in advance… But I would even commit myself to marriage in this case (one of my favourites). Another power house and also on my favourites list is the C.V. from Quinta Dona Maria (15º). It is quite an impressive curriculum vitae! Less impressive but also worth a date is their second wine: Dona Maria 2004 (it is, however, the kind of wine that flirts with you but doesn’t really ends in an engagement). Then, there is the Pingas. Again one of the wines must talked about at the moment in Portugal. It is made by a couple (they are the also, individually, the winemakers behind some of the other great wines). I can see they are passionate but can there be love? This is a wine full of aromas, complexity and sensations. The initial impact is tremendous (the best of all to smell and put in the mouth) but it does not seem to last that long (hopefully no correspondence with the marriage here…). This wine makes you fall in love at first taste but doesn’t yet made me stay in love. I will have to take it out for a drink another time to make up my mind…
My preference, however, will surprise many: Quinta do Passadouro 2004 (one of the cheapest wines in the lot; still, around 30 Euros the bottle). What can I tell you? Perhaps, I like to date wines that are not so ostentatious. Yet, this is another powerful and concentrated wine which you can eat as well as drink. It flirts with you but does not really offer itself immediatelly. My advise: admire it now but wait for a later date to consume the relationship… This one may last forever!

http://www.quintadovallado.com
http://www.alvesdesousa.com
http://www.quinta-do-passadouro.com