The dark side of rosé

Or should I say the light side of red? I was very happy when I met up with the Algarve’s pioneer of organic wine production Guillaume Leroux of Lagos winery Monte da Casteleja and he gave me a bottle of his new “palhete” to try. A few years ago, he used to produce a dark-coloured rosé verging on red that I was a great fan of, but then they went with a lighter style for a while.

Guillaume has now taken the brave step of stopping making rosé and instead offering this authentic “palhete” – basically meaning a pale red in Portuguese.
This is a wine designed to be drunk chilled, but it is also a gastronomic wine to be enjoyed with food, making an excellent substitute for a red when something lighter and fresher is called for.

The wine is made from the Bastardo grape, fermented in stainless steel and aged for four months in used 500-litre oak casks. It has no added sulphites and following this producer’s philosophy of minimal intervention organic winemaking, it is also unfiltered.

The colour in the glass is a bright crimson with cherries and fresh red forest fruits on the nose. In the mouth, there is a fine tannic structure and vibrant acidity, balancing well with fresh fruit and ending in a bone-dry finish.

Regretfully, only 1,000 bottles were made, so this wine will not be making its way to the shelves of major supermarkets. But it is available direct from the producer (visit montecasteleja.com) and from organic shops such as Convent’Bio in Lagoa. Priced around €10.

patrick.stuart@open-media.net