Colinas Reserva 2008 – From Bairrada to the world

Randomly selecting a bootle of wine off the shelf from a producer you have never heard of is a hit and miss business. I noticed this Bairrada red on the shelf at Apolónia last weekend and was expecting to read on the counter label that it included one of my favourite Portuguese grape varieties – Baga – which is making such a comeback in the region. But the description, very unusually for a Portuguese wine, gave no clue as to the varieties, mentioning only the tasting notes; an elegant aroma with notes of wild berry fruits, black chocolate and a slight pepperiness with well defined tannins on the palate and good acidity lending freshness.
A quick Google search revealed that the varieties are in fact Touriga Nacional, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. The latter variety has made more of a mark on the Bairrada region than anywhere else in Portugal, and was perhaps the most evident of the three grapes.
This 2008 reserva, priced very reasonably at €10,95 in Apolonia, is drinking beautifully, the tannins rounded by the ageing but still fresh enough to improve for at least a few more years.
My Google search also revealed that this small winery is almost totally dedicated to the export market, especially Angola, but also Brazil and Asia. No doubt the style of this wine has been crafted to appeal to international palates; in fact, there was little or nothing about it to express its Bairrada terroir, but it is a very well made Portuguese wine in the New World style, ideal to accompany a good steak.
By Patrick Stuart [email protected]