Friday, March 09, 2018

Tasting and lunch at Muratie with Amorim Cork and João Portugal Ramos wines from Portugal

We were very pleased to be invited to a tasting of some special Portuguese wines this week. The tasting was to be at Muratie Wine Farm and would be followed by lunch. We do not see many good Portuguese wines in South Africa, most often Port and entry-level Vinho Verde. Both of us are familiar with Portuguese wines from travelling and our studies and it was a really good opportunity to see what the modern Portuguese industry is producing
The Muratie Wine Cellar is in Simonsberg, Stellenbosch
These were the wines we were to taste
There were members of the wine industry, wine trade and some media at the tasting
 Joaquim Sa of Amorim Cork hosted the tasting
He introduced João Portugal Ramos, who founded Duorum wines with winemaker José Soares Franco in 2007. They are two of Portugal’s most renowned oenologists. Sr. Ramos is widely considered "the King of the Alentejo”. He began as a wine consultant in the 1980s and today runs successful projects in the Alentejo, Vinho Verde, Beira, and Douro. With him was his son João, who is also a winemaker. He is doing a harvest with Guy Webber at Neethlingshof this year
The company's mission statement is "Our purpose is to be a reference for Portuguese wines at international level by conferring a particular identity to different wines in which consumers can rely on." Their web address is
We had a PowerPoint presentation about Duorum wines and the different areas they are grown in
Here they are on the map
This is a detailed wine map of Portugal
We began with the 2016 DOC Vinho Verde. Grown on granite soil on very high vineyards from 85% Loureiro, 15% Alvarinho grapes. It has 13% alcohol. The wine has no gas or sugar added as many entry level Portuguese Vinhos Verde do. Typically, they have about 9% alcohol. It is made in tanks and they work with the lees. It is clean and fresh with crisp grape and citrus aromas, full on the tongue at first, then citrus dry with chalky minerality on the end. Sells for 4.
Next a 2016 Vinho Verde from 100% Alvarinho. Similar on the nose to the first wine, but with more maturity and ripeness. It is also fuller and shows more quality. Crisp acidity with apple Riesling notes, then citrus and flinty minerality. It has been partly fermented in 20% French oak, which shows on the wine with golden notes; the balance is fermented in tanks. A food wine
Wine #3 was Marquês de Borba Branco DOC Alentejo from Arinto, Antao Vaz and a touch of Viognier. Grown on Limestone and schist soils, it is perfumed with honey and peaches. Dry on the palate with light touches of honey; then it becomes deeper and longer. Unwooded. It is from a hot area where the harvest starts on about the 9th of August
Then the Marquês de Borba Red from Alentejo. 4 grape varieties: Alicante Bouschet, Aragonez, Trincadeira, Touriga Nacional and grown on limestone and schist (slate). Fermented in shallow marble lagares (kuipe), the grapes are pressed by feet; they will soon have roto presses. The blend is not prescriptive, it depends on the harvest. Almost a Merlot note on the nose, dry tannins and chalk at first, soft fruit and the port varietals show. Long and chewy with almonds, red and black cherries and some morello, ending in dark licorice, cassis, spice and pepper. Some is aged for 6 months in second fill oak barrels and then blended with the tank fermented wine. Sells for 6. Another easy drinking food wine
The 5th wine was the Marquês de Borba Reserva 2012. Sells for 40. Made from Aragonez, Alicante Bouschet, Trincadeira, Cabernet Sauvignon. DOC Alentejo on Schist soil. The wine is almost black and completely opaque. Only the natural wild yeast is used in its fermentation in the open largares, with malolactic fermentation taking place in second year barrels. It is then aged for 18 months in small French oak barrels. The Cabernet influence shows well on the nose; it's a cassis bomb with a dive-in nose, really attractive. Dry chalk on the palate first, then heady berries and warm alcohol. Toasty wood and chewy tannins with salty licorice on the end
Then came Tons de Duorum Red 2015, an entry level red grown on schist. DO Douro from three port varietals: Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca and Tinta Roriz. Sells for 4. The vineyards are very steep and they get 25 hectolitres per hectare. It is savoury, rather like a Mourvèdre with good toasty wood, dark black berries, with very dry and chalky tannins
Son João told us how the wines are made
Some pictures of their vineyards at Vila Santa in Alentejo
And the steep vineyards in the Douro where Duorum is grown. It means "From Two"
Some of the awards the wines have earned
Wine #7 was a 2007 Duorum DO from Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional and Tinta Roriz on schist soil, with 12 months in French oak barrels. So nice to be able to taste an earlier wine. It has a blockbuster nose, which blows your hair back. Deep, dark and spicy with red and black berries; very attractive. On the palate, soft and silky tannins, then drying chalk. Built to last years. Blackberries on the palate and the oak is there, but just supporting with a nice peppery end. The chalky tannins on these wines do rather take over your palate after a while
Wine #8 was the 2015 Duorum LBV Port made from Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinto Cão, Souzão in the Douro. This needs decanting; it is still young. On the nose, merlot berries, cassis, violets and mulberries. Crisp and smooth, velvety, nice lively fruit acids; will become complex. This wine is well balanced with a long persistent finish
The final wine was 2011 Duorum LBV Port. Christmas pudding fruit with cinnamon and clove spices. Soft, sweet, powerful, with warm alcohol, length and depth. Silky on the palate. 104 g/l sugar. This will reward with more age
They told us that in Portugal they are only allowed to sell one third of the Port in the release year, so that they will have future stocks. It was a very good and very interesting tasting. We learnt a lot and we know it will assist us on our upcoming trip to Portugal and Spain. We will certainly know which wines to buy while we are there. Thank you family Ramos
Rijk Melck enjoying what is in his glass
The other winemakers present also enjoyed the tasting. De Wet Viljoen of Neethlingshof, Johan Malan from Simonsig, Anri Truter from Beyerskloof
Joaqim Sa of Amorim Cork with Danie and Peter de Wet of Dewetshof, with Marina Calow of WOSA and Jeanri-Tine van Zyl. Mrs Ramos is on the extreme right
The Ramos family with Joaqim Sa
Time for lunch and the starter was smoked salmon on bruschetta with a rocket salad and balsamic reduction
Kim Melck and her chef had organised the lunch
The main course was one of their legendary lamb shanks with grated carrot, butternut and green beans, mashed potato and a great red wine jus. Delicious
The dessert was a light lemon pannacotta topped with hanepoot grapes
Those cobwebs are a National Heritage item. Honestly.
The tasting room and adjoining rooms used to be wine kuipe (concrete wine vats)
Muratie has a lovely view of Table Mountain over their vineyards. This time, it was almost totally covered in a huge South Easter tablecloth. We will be back this Saturday for their Harvest Festival

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