Spotlight on Portuguese Dry Wine: Lemos & Van Zeller CV Curriculum Vitae 2005

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Cristiano Van Zeller is one of the most famous names for dry wine in Portugal. Now owner of Quinta do Vale Donna Maria, he has had his stamp on a few top dry wine estates in the Douro, including Quinta do Roriz.

Certainly a bit of a whiz and one with a penchant for new projects, Van Zeller also seems to have a fairly new world bent with his wine making style. So he is both a good example of the modernization of Portugal but also of the divide between big ballsy New Worldy wines and wines with more subtlety and elegance, which are also possible in Portugal.

Portugal’s Grape

Touriga Nacional is amongst the absolute best quality grapes in Portugal for making red wine. Long used in port production, it is now seeing centre stage in numerous highly regarded dry reds. TN makes delicious full bodied wines but is also very aggressive, and in the worlds of Oz Clarke is “a grape of tremendous personality but with aggressive tendencies that is usually much better when softened by blending with something else”.

The wine has an expressive bordeaux-like nose, staying true to its similarity to Cabernet Sauvignon: blackberry, plum and plumskin, spices and a bit of leafyness.

This is fully fruity on the palate, very forward and is filled with big bright acid. I find this more like a very good California wine on the palate than anything old world, though the tannins manifest dustily on the palate. You can definitely taste a little stewy fruit here, and some alcohol and so I’d say this wine has less finesse than the Chrysea. Overall, it is still a bit harsh now with fairly overt oak and tannin and could clearly do with another 4-6 years of bottle age. In some ways the wine is a little unbalanced, especially for its price tag. Right now, while I respect the quality of this wine, it is unfortunately a pass for me based on QPR.

Summary

New World style but distinctly Portuguese grapes and flavours. A good wine for those who like em big. Personally I prefer the red wines from Portugal with more elegance – a hard thing to achieve in its climate.

Very Good+
~$100 at Everything Wine

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