Cavalo Maluco 2010

A few weeks ago I featured the rosé from this producer, “Tears of Anima”, which I consider to be the best Portuguese rosé currently on the market. Subsequently, I was discussing this wine and the producer in question with a sommelier friend who told me that I had to try their premium red label, Cavalo Maluco, meaning ‘Crazy Horse’. The producer, Herdade do Portocarro, is located close to Alcácer do Sal, within the Setúbal wine sub-region but bordering the Alentejo, and Cavalo Maluco is their most expensive wine, priced at €30 in Apolónia. 

Researching the wine online, I discovered that it has received significant praise, notably from a specialist group known as the Court Of Master Sommeliers, made up of top sommeliers and Masters of Wine from various countries, who rated it as the best Portuguese red in the over €20 category at a tasting that took place in Lisbon in 2014.

Likewise, this relatively small producer, in an area where no other quality wine is produced, was recognised as Producer of the Year in 2015 by Portugal’s leading wine magazine, Essência do Vinho. This is a very serious wine from a very serious producer, using carefully selected Touriga Franca, Nacional Nacional and Petit Verdot grapes, fermented in oak vats and aged for 18 months in French oak barrels.

This 2010 vintage was only launched onto the market in 2015, in keeping with this producer’s noteworthy philosophy of allowing their wines to reach full maturity in the bottle before release, something we sadly do not see enough of here in Portugal.

This wine is, quite simply, delicious. It has the power and body that we would associate with some of the top Alentejo reds, the structure that we would expect of top draw Douro, but an approachability that sets it apart as something quite different.

On the nose, there is intense and jammy dark berry notes mingling with floral and spicy aromas and a hint of sweetness, very much in the style of a premium New World red. The oak is very well integrated and the tannins soft and well rounded in the mouth, with freshness and acidity lending elegance. This 2010 is ready for drinking but will no doubt further improve with many more years of bottle-ageing.

As for food pairing, I was recently challenged by the editor of the Algarve Resident’s stablemate German magazine Entdecken Sie Algarve to suggest wines for the Christmas table. I would not match this wine with roast turkey, my first choice choice there would always be something of lighter structure such as a nice Pinot Noir. But the German Christmas dinner of choice is roast goose and for the rich dark meat and fat of this noble bird, I think this wine could well be a perfect match.

By PATRICK STUART [email protected]