Quinta da Bacalhôa

An old favourite, still going strong

I received a bottle of this wine as a gift from a friend last week and it occurred to me not only how long it has been since I last tried it, but also how we tend to overlook the old classics of Portuguese winemaking these days.

Quinta da Bacalhôa, first produced in 1979, became a big hit back in the 80s and was an obligatory name to be found on the wine list of any decent restaurant. This was back in the days when the Alentejo was just starting to find its feet in terms of quality wine and the market was still dominated by a few big names in the Dão and Douro regions.

Quinta da Bacalhôa brought something entirely new to the panorama of Portuguese wine at the time: a red produced exclusively from foreign varieties (Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot), which, in the gentle climate of the Setúbal Peninsula, resulted in one of the first new-world style reds produced in Portugal.

The wine is in essence a Cabernet Sauvignon, representing 90% of the blend, softened with a touch of Merlot. Up front on the nose, there are big juicy aromas of forest fruits mixed with toasty spices followed by intense and quite complex flavours in the mouth, full bodied with evident but well rounded tannins.

This is a classy wine, reminiscent of a nice Californian Cabernet Sauvignon, every bit as good as it was back in the 80s and still worth the price tag which these days is around €17 or €18 in supermarkets. Look out for older vintages as this is a wine with great ageing potential.

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