Wyou Reserva 2011, Portugal
T his is one of those mystery wines in my cellar that I set aside to review, but forgot to record where I got it. I think a friend gave it to me, so I’m not sure of the price, but I think it is under $20.
It’s a wonderful wine, full of fresh red fruit and a great deal of complexity. Teri, Michael and I had it with a dinner of pulled pork sliders and homemade potato chips last week, and the wine disappeared faster than any wine I can remember. All three of us loved it.
The pork came from a shoulder I bought at Lexington Barbecue, the Mecca of all who love North Carolina vinegar style barbecue. I pulled apart the shoulder and served some of it at a wedding party for my stepdaughter Erin and her husband Gary. They are wonderful people, but that is a story for another time. The Lexington barbecue also is wonderful, and we had a lot of leftovers, so I froze some of the meat. Now, whenever I need an easy, heavenly meal, I just thaw the pulled pork.
The wine is made from two underappreciated varieties, 54% Syrah and 46% Touriga Nacional. Syrah makes great wines all around the world, but many people are not that familiar with it. And the only way you would know about Touriga Nacional would be if you regularly drank wines from Portugal.
There are so many great wines coming out of Portugal right now it’s hard to keep up with all of them. You might have to search a little to find this wine because it doesn’t appear to be widely distributed, but if you find it the reward will be great. Restaurants are more likely to carry it than wine shops.
The wine is dark red in the glass with some violet around the edges. It has a beautiful aroma of red fruit. Syrah brings a spicy, fresh fruit flavor while the Touriga Nacional adds exuberance and character. This is an elegant wine with fine tannins and a smooth finish with some minerality added from the granite soils of the vineyards.
Touriga Nacional is often used in Port blends, but in recent decades it has emerged as a terrific addition to table wines. It is a low-yielding variety with tiny berries, but the flavor of those berries is exquisite.
After harvest the grape bunches are sorted by manual conveyor. The grapes go into lagares, or shallow open-top tanks, with automatic punch and with high extraction level. About 60% of the wine is aged in new French oak barrels for 12 months.
One of the interesting things about this wine is where it comes from, the region of Alentejo. The Duoro region is the best known wine region in Portugal. It has been the home of Port wines for generations, but in recent years table wines have been making great strides.
Now within Portugal, a second region known as Alentejo is emerging as the new choice of wine for the local population.
The Alentejo region is better known for its miles of cork trees and cereal production, but now the wines are making a name for themselves. Only about 5% of the land is planted with grapes and Syrah, Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon are starting to generate some buzz in the wine world.
The Alentejo region covers one third of Portugal and its varied soil, rolling hills and expansive plains are quickly becoming notable for producing the next wave of fine red and white wines. Hot, sunny days are producing wines with ripe fruit and full-bodied character.
The entire region is entitled to use the Vinho Regional designation Alentejano VR, while some areas are also classified at the higher Denominação de Origem Controlada (DOC) level under the designation Alentejo DOC
Indigenous local varietals such as Aragonez, Borba, Evora, Rendondo and Reguengos varietals lead the way and make rich, balanced reds. For whites, the Antão Vaz grape alongside Diagalves, Manteúdo, Perrum and Rabo de Ovelha varietals are quickly proving that the region can also produce great white wines of length and complexity.
The Alentejo has led the way in Portugal’s wine revolution, especially red wines. There are two distinct styles of Alentejo red. First, there is what can loosely be termed the traditional style. These often combine earthy, herbal, undergrowth-like savory flavors and aromas with the fruit. Traditional Alentejo wines are often complex and reasonably age worthy.
Then there is the modern style which shows lots of intense fruit, with a richness that is
‘new world’ in character, and similar to the style that has made Australian wines such a success in recent years.
This particular wine is marketed by the Wyou project, and Wintrading, a company focused on international trade of rural products. Their idea is to acquaint people both in Portugal and abroad with the variety and quality of wine products.
Wine is the drink that best combines traditional know-how with the effort, hard work and knowledge of the men and women that harvest its raw material, the grape. The complex techniques involved in wine-making result in something that satisfies the palate of devotees of the product all around the world.
The company says in the medium to long term, they aim to enlarge current wine production and hold stocks of vines and wines in all the main wine-production regions of Portugal and the rest of the world, to create a diverse portfolio ranging from Wyou Chile to Wyou Australia, vida Dão, Port and Rioja.
Author Dennis Sodomka