Spotlight on Portuguese Dry Wine: Esporao Reserva White 2006

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The spotlight on Portuguese dry wine draws to a close with this white blend from Esporao. Esporao’s red and white reserva wines are good examples of how overly modern fruit driven methods can reduce interest in a wine. Over-oaking and attempts to mimick the new world style do not serve Portuguese wine well even as the indigenous grapes’ character manages to shine through the heavy-handed treatment in the cellar.

A blend of Antão Vaz, Arinto, and Roupeiro, this wine’s rich and buttery elements overwhelmed my palate somewhat, even as the wine offered interesting steely minerality, white flowers and kiwi fruit. This is a wine with good acid, but the oak is a bit intense for my liking. This works better if married with food to mellow it out, but the over the top richness kind of kills the wine even though there is something interesting going on with the fruit (making this far better than over-oaked chard). Overall the Esporao white reserva was not very drinkable for my palate.

A Portuguese Sum-Up

A sad note on which to end this spotlight, but also a confirmation of my discovery that Portugal’s dry wine scene is still evolving and finding its legs. There are truly great wines to be found here, but far too many are made in an international style, are slightly overdone or simply lack interest. This will change with time, particularly given some of the pioneering wines I have profiled in this spotlight. For now, Portugal is a country well worth exploring, but one should do so with the proper research and with a mind for experimentation. You will not always find what you like, but when you do the wine will be a unique expression of interesting grapes and a special terroir that is only beginning to emerge on the world scene.

$36 at Everything Wine


  1. david baverstock
    October 17, 2011

    Shea, sorry this wasn´t a great experience for you but it is a lot to ask from a southern Portugese white wine to be showing well after 5 years in the bottle, especially in a hot year like 2006. Normally Esporao white reserve wines age well for up to 5 years because of the good acid balance we achieve in our wines but the 2006 whites generally were very fruit forward and not good for bottle ageing potential. We have reduced our oak usage in recent years and are using more french barrels as opposed to american oak, and the reserve whites since 2008 have a more subtle oak feel to them. Hopefully you will enjoy our more recent vintages of this wine.
    Yours sincerely, David Baverstock (winemaker)

  2. Shea
    October 17, 2011


    Thanks for you reply and very fair points. I will be sure to try a recent vintage if it is available in our market. The underlying fruit was certainly interesting and I’d love to try it in it’s fresher form.


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