João Clara Negra Mole

João Clara Negra Mole

An Algarvean answer to Burgundy
No matter how adventurous the Algarve’s winemakers get, I doubt they will ever go as far as planting Pinot Noir – that most difficult of grapes to grow that is at home, of course, in Burgundy but also produces great wines in New Zealand and California amongst other places in the New World.
But no, this article is not about a Pinot Noir, but instead about a wine made from what was once the main grape variety used to make wine here in the Algarve and likewise the backbone of Madeira wine.
I remember the old Caramujeira winery near Lagoa (with the pale red wine that was best used as paint stripper) made from this grape and so I was surprised, literally blown away, with this reincarnation of the Negra Mole variety from Algarve winemaker João Clara.
It is not cheap – somewhere between €15 and €20 in the shops if you can find it – but it is a very interesting wine that will bring a smile to the face of any Pinot Noir lover in the Algarve.
Quite how the winemaker has managed to nurture the humble Negra Mole grape to give us a smooth and delightfully light wine in the Burgundy style, even with the typical leathery notes along with fresh berry fruits, is, to say the least, surprising.
All I can add is that the 2011 currently on the market is still a little too young. This was the first vintage and a nod of respect goes to João Clara for holding it back until now, but the tannins still need to soften and it can only get better after another couple of years in the bottle.
By PATRICK STUART [email protected]