Wine of the Week: 2012 Monte Velho Red & 2012 Monte Velho White
Region: Alentejo, Portugal
This is my third time to post on wine from Esporão. I make no apologies. When I tasted their 2012 Monte Velho Red and 2012 Monte Velho White I was really very impressed – especially considering the price tag of $10. You cannot get much better value than that in my book.
A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of meeting Esporão chief winemaker David Baverstock in New York City. Originally from Adelaide in Australia, David has been living and making wine in Portugal since 1982. Having worked for various properties including Croft Port in the Douro, he joined Esporão in 1992. Since then David has gone on to become one of Portugal’s most distinguished winemakers.
Esporão – A Family Winery in Southern Portugal: Owned by the Roquette family, Esporão is Portugal’s largest privately owned winery. Herdade do Esporão is located in the Alentejo – a large and diverse wine region, inland north of the Algarve and about 95 miles from Lisbon. A relatively hot area, today the Alentejo is a hotbed of exciting young winemakers making wines that are both deliciously modern, yet true to their terroir. Esporão has been one of the most important pioneers of quality and innovation in the Alentejo region. Esporão makes a lot of wine – under a number of different brands. Monte Velho is by far the most significant in terms of volume and success.
Monte Velho: The Monte Velho wines are not varietal wines. They are blends made from a mix of local Portuguese varieties. I like the fact that the Monte Velho wines list the names and the percentages of these grape varieties on the front label. It is a very clever strategy. Besides providing transparency about the wines’ make up, it also offers wine drinkers an easy opportunity to become familiar with the names of these different and less well-known grape varieties.
The name Monte Velho also has significance. Monte means 'estate on a hill' in Portugal and Velho indicates old. So basically it relates back to the history and age of the Esporao property.
David Baverstock established the Monte Velho brand, as we know it. Before David arrived at Esporão, Monte Velho was essentially a wine that was made up from the leftover wines that did not make it into the Esporão Reserva range. This is no longer the case. David created a proper identity, personality and a strategy for the wines. Monte Velho wines are fresh, vibrant, modern and very affordable for everyday consumption.
2012 Monte Velho White, Vinho Regional Alentejano, Portugal, $10 – A blend of Antão Vaz (40%), Roupeiro (40%) and Perrum (20%). Youthful pale lemon in color. Very fresh nose, intense and quite floral with notes of a lemon, lime, clementine and peach, laced with hints of laurel and bay. The wine is crisp and energetic on the palate. Refreshing vinous texture with a pleasant creaminess mid-palate. Lively finish.
2012 Monte Velho Red, Vinho Regional Alentejano, Portugal, $10 – A blend of Aragonês, Trincadeira, Touriga Nacional and Syrah. Bright crimson color with a fresh, lively nose of cherry-berry fruit with hints of pepper and creamy-coffee. Vibrant, mouth filling, refreshing and juicy on the palate. Tannins are very supple – adding just the right amount of structure. It has a sprightly texture, nicely persistent flavors and a juicy, fresh finish.
At the table: One of the first things that came to my mind, as I tasted Monte Velho, was ‘Thanksgiving’. Both these wines are lively, juicy and easy drinking. They are not complicated wines and will work with a wide variety of foods – not just the turkey but also a host of appetizers and sides. They are refreshing – not in any way heavy – so can provide a perfect foil for the richness that begets the Thanksgiving table. Additionally, with a price tag of $10 / bottle they are perfect for large gatherings.
See my previous posts on Esporão: