By PATRICK STUART [email protected]
Moving slightly south after I started this series of articles last week in the Minho, the next stop is the Douro and what is arguably Portugal’s top white wine – Redoma Reserva Branco, from the venerable Niepoort winery.
At €36 in Apolónia, this is the most expensive white wine I will review in this series, from north to south, and it begs the question – is it worth the money? Once we pass the €30 threshold in white wines, we have some of the world’s great whites within our reach, such as Premier Cru Chassagne Montrachet, so pitching this Douro white at such a high price is something of a statement from the producer.
The main grape variety is Rabigato, the backbone of most good Douro whites, blended with Códega, from vines of between 60 and 100 years old, set at 400 to 800 metres of altitude. The cooler temperatures at this altitude, particularly at night, make these high vineyards of the Douro Valley the most well suited in Portugal for the production of high quality whites, allowing for longer ripening times.
The grapes are rigorously selected and fermented in French oak barrels and aged on the lees in the barrel for eight to nine months. The result is a wine of great elegance and finesse, the oak is in no way overpowering, but rather adds a creaminess to the mouthfeel and just a hint of toast on the nose, balancing out the citric and tropical fruit notes.
The wine has real structure and layers of flavours, with a clean and extremely long mineral finish. This is a white wine that has been made to improve with age and four or five years from now will probably see this 2011 at its peak. So back to the question, yes, if you appreciate and are willing to pay the price ofFrench Premier Cru whites then this wine represents reasonable value for money by comparison, and is a prime example of just how good Portuguese white wine can be.
Promotional price at Apolónia supermarket
(valid from August 22 to August 28)
REDOMA 2011 WHITE: €29.95 (retail price €36.95)