This is the best known of the labels from Algarve producer Quinta dos Vales, located in Estômbar. And this 2012 vintage is also the wine that was the grand winner of the Algarve wine competition recently held by the Algarve Wine Commission (CVA).
The wine was singled out in the blind tasting event to win the award of “Algarve’s best wine”. Whether this actually is the Algarve’s best wine is arguable; after all, such tastings are limited to the wines that are entered into any given competition. And, in fact, Quinta dos Vales itself has more than one wine that could be considered superior to this one. But to give merit where merit is due, this is the wine that most impressed the judges, beating even one of the premium and considerably more expensive wines from the same producer (Marquês dos Vales Grand Escolha 2014) which won a gold medal at the same tasting.
It is, however, interesting to note that all of the other wines that were awarded silver or gold medals in this competition were considerably younger, with many from 2016 and even 2017.
Quinta dos Vales is one of the few producers in the Algarve that has a philosophy of holding back its reds, allowing them to bottle-age and reach their full potential before being released onto the market. And this is a philosophy that clearly paid off at the tasting in question.
The wine is made from Touriga Nacional with Syrah and Petit Verdot grapes, a blend that produced a powerful and full-bodied red when it was younger. But it has now mellowed beautifully, still fresh, with a good few years to go before it peaks, whilst displaying an elegance that does justice to the Grace Vineyard name.
On the nose, jammy notes of plums and dark berry fruit marry hints of tobacco from well-integrated oak. In the mouth, the wine is medium- to full-bodied with smooth tannins and a lingering dry finish.
This is a wine that really does show the potential of what can be achieved here in the Algarve – excellent value for money at €13.49 (Apolónia).
By Patrick Stuart