Casal Sta. Maria – Quality varietals from Colares

The Colares sub-region, now part of the Lisbon wine region, has long been known for the quality of its wines. Located close to the ocean on the western slopes of the Sintra hills and stating on the label “the most westerly vineyards of Europe,” Casal de Santa Maria has a fascinating story.

It is probably the only winery in the world founded by a nonagenarian, the late Baron Bodo Von Bruemmer, who started producing wine there at the age of 96 in 2007, and passed away in 2016 at the grand old age of 105.

Today, the estate which was originally acquired by Baron Von Bruemmer in the early 70’s is run by his grandson Nicholas Von Bruemmer. And they are producing some excellent wines, some of which were available for tasting at Apolónia supermarket last weekend.

I was a little disappointed to not see their Riesling on offer or for sale for that matter, as I consider it to be amongst the best Rieslings produced in Portugal. Apolónia carries their Sauvignon Blanc (€12.95), Chardonnay (€21.95) and Pinot Noir (€23.95) and their red reserva blend.

The Sauvignon Blanc is good value for money, full of flavour without being too exuberant. The wine is fermented on the lees giving it body and substance but it is also fresh and vibrant with notes of white fruits and green peppers on the nose, good acidity in the mouth and a nice lingering finish.

There is quite a price jump up to the Chardonnay but this is justified, in fact I would go as far as to say that this is the best Portuguese Chardonnay I have tried. The Chardonnay is oaked but the wine is by no means overly oaky. There are hints of toast and vanilla on the nose but it is the fresh tropical fruit notes that come to the front with layers of favours and real body in the mouth. This is a serious food wine.

As for the Pinot Noir, this is quite different to any other Portuguese Pinot on the market, much lighter in colour than most with a pale cherry hue, notes of strawberry, leather and tobacco on the nose. In the mouth the texture is light with smooth tannins and a fresh yet persistent finish, well worth the price. And finally, I am told that the first Merlot varietal from this producer will soon be making its way to the shelves, one to look out for.

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