Here is a wine-making project that neatly sums up the adventurous spirit that has made the Portuguese wine scene so interesting over recent years. In 1999, a young Spanish lady oenologist by the name of Susana Esteban landed a job as a winemaker at one of the great Douro houses, Quinta do Côtto, before moving on, in 2003, to the equally prestigious house of Quinta do Crasto. There she stayed until 2007 before setting off on her own adventure.
First she worked as a consultant winemaker for various producers in the Alentejo and later set up her own winery in the upper reaches of the region, near Portalegre.
Today she produces or co-produces some very interesting wines, amongst them the premium label Crochet produced in the Douro as a joint venture with her winemaker friend Sandra Tavares.
Back at her own winery, her projects include Sidecar, a wine produced by a different guest winemaker each year, the label depicting a drawing of Susana in the sidecar and the guest winemaker riding the bike – look out for the unmistakable curly locks of Dirk Niepoort on the vintage currently on the market.
Another label is Procura, taking its name from her search for her winery and for vineyards, made from a blend of grapes from the lower and upper Alentejo.
The entry level label Aventura, with the funky label designs, shows the daredevil winemaker in the cockpit of an old biplane. The red is un-oaked and medium to full-bodied – a fresh, fruity and elegant red ideal to serve slightly chilled.
The white, also un-oaked, displays a lush peachy perfume, full fruity flavour and a clean dry finish.
Both cost around €10 at Apolónia. Also available from Wine Emotions/Terroir in Carvoeiro.
By Patrick Stuart [email protected]