It’s been a while since I’ve had the opportunity to taste and study wines from Portugal so I was very interested in sampling four that I‘d never had before – two whites and two reds from Herdade do Esporão – and learning all about them. Here is an excerpt from the invitation:
Esporão Group Chairman João Roquette, one of the most influential people in the Portuguese wine industry today, will brief us on Esporao Group, his vision for the future and his take on the Portuguese wine industry. Herdade do Esporão lead winemaker, Sandra Alves, will talk about the estate and taste through the wines.
What I Learned
Both Roquette and Alves shared the efforts that the winery has made in creating holistic, sustainable and organic vineyards via composting, natural pest control, no chemicals in the farming, beneficial insects, animal grazing and soil maintenance. They spent twelve years educating themselves and visiting other wineries as they worked on their own sustainable program, and are now 100% organic.
Alves has 20 years of experience with Esporão. And Roquette’s family has owned the winery for two generations. Their workers are all part of the team, sharing in the work and benefits.
Their products, including olive oil and a craft brewery, express their agricultural place. Eighty percent of their products were originally sold in Portugal, now that percentage has gone down to thirty-five with the balance being sold internationally.
They do purchase some grapes beyond their estate for entry-level wine.And they produce 16 billion bottles per year, though their country is not large like Spain or France, more the size of Holland.
The Wines (Abbreviated technical sheet information, and finding some of the same tasting notes, are all in italics)
Esporão Colheita White 2020 / SRP $18
Concept: Wine produced solely from grapes grown at Herdade do Esporão, applying organic farming methods. Expresses the typical features of this vintage, diversity of the soil where the vines are planted, as well as the character and identity of the selected varieties.
Grape Varieties: Antão Vaz, Viosinho, Alvarinho and others. 13.5% alcohol
EB Notes: Golden Delicious yellow apple, white flower, lemon zest and green tea on the nose with flavors that were fresh and zesty, lemon, grapefruit and minerals with a long finish.
Esporão Reserva White 2020 / SRP $20
Concept: A classic wine obtained exclusively from our organic grapes. The diversity of Herdade do Esporão, together with the different characteristics of the grape varieties, the soils, the maturity of the vines and the character of those who make this wine consistently over the years, results in a rich, intense but always harmonious wine.
Grape Varieties: Antão Vaz, Arinto, Roupeiro and others. 13.5% alcohol.
Awards from Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast.
EB Notes: Aromas of bruised fruit, incense and a surprise of mint followed by a mouth that reminded me of an older wine though it was young, balanced fruit, flint, smoke, muted but interesting.
Esporão Colheita Red 2018 / SRP $18
Concept: Wine with sense of place, intense, direct, and vibrant. Expresses the typical features of the vintage year, diversity of the soil where the vines are planted, as well as the character and identity of the selected varieties.
Grape Varieties: Touriga Nacional, Aragonez, Touriga Franca, Cabernet Sauvignon and Alicante Bouschet. 14% alcohol.
Awards from Wine Spectator.
EB Notes: Hello LEATHER on the nose, like a well-worn saddle! That blew off somewhat but still lingered with the addition of sweat, tree bark and dark fruit. On the palate I noted dry fruit, that same smoke, oak, Espresso and tannins.
Esporão Reserva Red 2018 / SRP $25
Concept: The first wine made by Esporão in 1985. Obtained from grapes grown at Herdade do Esporão, it shows the consistency and rich character typical of the best Alentejo wines.
Label illustrated by Anne Geene.
Grape Varieties: Aragonez, Trincadeira, Syrah, Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Cabernet Sauvignon, Alicante Bouschet. 14.5% alcohol.
High scores from Robert Parker and Wine Enthusiast.
EB Notes: Earthy, dark fruit, velvety, fennel, green peppercorn, spice rack – very aromatic aromas. The taste had the same spicy qualities as well as a sweetness that counterbalanced all of the dark berry flavors, very long finish.
Eve Bushman has a Level Two Intermediate Certification from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET), a “certification in first globally-recognized course” as an American Wine Specialist ® from the North American Sommelier Association (NASA), Level 1 Sake Award from WSET, was the subject of a 60-minute Wine Immersion video (over 16k views), authored “Wine Etiquette for Everyone” and has served as a judge for the Long Beach Grand Cru and the Global Wine Awards. You can email Eve@EveWine101.com to ask a question about wine or spirits.