Sangiovese comes to Portugal

Tears of Anima

This rather humble-looking label with a not-so-humble price tag of €13.99 (Apolónia) was recommended to me as one of the best rosés produced in Portugal.

I was sceptical but, in the interest of research, had to give it a try, especially considering that this is one of the first wines ever to be made in Portugal from the Italian Sangiovese grape.

It is also, in my humble opinion, the best rosé as yet made in Portugal. I suppose this is a shame in one way, considering that it took a foreign grape to make one of Portugal’s best rosés – but so be it. In fact, there is another Portuguese rosé made from the same grape, MR Rosé from Monte da Ravasqueira in the Alentejo, one of the few wines that I have given a negative review in my column over the last four years, for no other reason than I found it to be over-oaked to the extreme that the grape variety became utterly indistinguishable. What’s more, it was even more expensive than this one!

But back to this wine, which compares very favourably to many of the French rosés that cost a good few euros more. The winery, located just south of Lisbon, close to Alcácer do Sal, is technically in the Setúbal wine sub-region but geographically in the Alentejo, close enough to the ocean that it still benefits from the Atlantic climate of the west coast.

The Sangiovese grapes were planted on a small plot to make a rosé and a red varietal, the latter which I am very keen to try but is not yet available here in the Algarve.

Production is tiny, just 4,000 bottles of the rosé and 2,400 of the red, meaning that without visiting the winery, which is now on my list, I will probably not get to try the red.

The rosé has a complex and unusual aroma of (according to the producer) tangerines and green plums. Personally, I agree with the tangerine, but could not find any plums! In the mouth it has great body for a rosé, with solid backbone of acidity balanced by a subtle sweetness on the finish. Outstanding and worth every cent of the price.

By PATRICK STUART [email protected]