Real Companhia Velha is one of Portugal’s oldest existing wine houses and the ‘grandaddy’ of the Douro, being the company that first made Port wine.
It has survived over the centuries and even today continues to innovate, especially with the Séries range of what are often experimental wines.
A few years ago, I wrote here about their white wine made from the practically unknown Samarinho grape, of which only a few hundred bottles were made.
Last week, I was having dinner at O Barradas, one of my favourite local restaurants which has a respectable wine list, and whilst looking for a light-to-medium-bodied red, I was recommended the wine in the main photo which is made from another grape I have certainly never heard of; Cornifesto.
This was once one of the main grape varieties grown in the Douro, up to the 1970s, and used here as a varietal, it makes a very interesting and unusual wine with earthy forest floor and subdued black berry fruit aromas on the nose. In the mouth, it is medium-bodied with well-balanced tannins leading to a dry finish.
It was an excellent match to the dish I always eat at O Barradas (on the old road from Lagoa to Silves); Mirandesa Veal Chop.
This is not a wine that you will find in the shops as only 1,200 bottles were produced but the retail price online for this 2015 vintage is around €20.
This prompted me to pick up another wine from the Séries range at Apolónia last weekend, the Séries Natur 2016, which is the polar opposite of the wine mentioned above.
This is an organic red with no added sulphites, costing €17.95 at Apolónia, a blend of typical Douro grapes resulting in a juicy, full-bodied wine. On the nose, it is opulent with jammy berry fruits jumping out of the glass and silky-smooth tannins and a lovely freshness in the mouth, a far more approachable wine than the Cornifesto.
Both of these wines are outstanding in their own way, and I will certainly be on the lookout for more wines from the Real Companhia Velha’s Séries range.