Thursday, December 20, 2018

Tasting with Luís Lourenco of Quinta dos Roques and Quinta das Maias


Luís Lourenco met our group at Quinta dos Roques, a 35 hectare property in Cunha Baixa in the Dão wine region of Portugal. He had set up a tasting of his sustainably made wines from that estate alongside wines from his slightly smaller, 25 hectare organic property, Quinta das Mais.

Lourenco's family has owned a portion of the property for generations. In addition to grapevines, they used to farm a diverse array of crops, they determined that to be more profitable they needed to specialize in wine grapes. They bought some surrounding land and the Quinta das Mais property in the late 1990s which is located nearby and continued to focus strictly on growing grapes for wine making.
Lourenco said the family made a choice to only use local grape varieties to make true Dão wines. Their main red grapes are Jaen and Touriga Nacional with some Alfrocheiro, Tinta Roriz, and Tinto Cão. Their main white grapes are Malvasia Fina and Encruzado with some Bical, Cerceal Branco, and Gouveio. "Anyone can grow Touriga Nacional and make a decent wine. Jaen and Alfrocheiro are more difficult to grow and to work with but to forget about these other grapes which are part of Portugal's treasure is a big mistake. They are traditional in the Dão and give a good point of reference to the differences in the Dão compared to all the other Portuguese regions."

He set up our tasting to showcase both the region's traditional style blends and the more modern single varietal style. He felt this was the best way to get an understanding of what each of the grape varieties offer.

The Tasting:
Roques Colheita 2017 - This fresh, medium body, high acidity, dry white wine blend composed mostly of Encruzado with some Bical, Malvasia Fina, Cercial and Gouveio. It has fresh aromas and flavors of apples and orange citrus with a mineral-laced finish.
Mais Branco 2017 - This medium body un-oaked white blend is sourced from 600 meters up in the foothills of the Serra das Estela mountain range It is composed primarily of Malvasia Fina and Encruzado. It is dry and crisp with light floral aromas and an elegant minerality in the finish which Lourenco stated comes from the granitic sand on which the vines are grown.

Roques Encruzado 2016 - This single varietal white is partially fermented for 7 months in French Oak giving it a slightly creamy texture with light floral aromas of citrus blossom and and a fresh, dry, citrusy mineral-laced finish.
Maias Malvasia Fina 2017 - Fermented partially in Fench oak barrels and partially in stainless steel with technical battonage, this dry white was crisp with bright floral aromas and a fresh finish.

Roques Coheita Tinto 2016 - This red blend is composed primarily of Touriga Nacional with Jaen, Alfrocheiro, Tinto Roriz and Tinto Cão. It has floral aromas of violet with mulberry flavors and a slight savory note in the finish.
Maias Tinto 2015 - This red blend is composed of Jaen and Touriga Nacional. It was fresh and elegant with juicy blackberry aromas and flavors, a hint of violet, and a lingering spicy cherry finish.

Roques Touriga Nacional 2016 - Floral violet aromas with a rich blackberry flavor, full bodied, bigger tannic structure than the previous blends with good acidity and a persistent finish. This wine was aged 15 months in neutral oak barrels.
Maias Jaen 2016 - Fruity aromas and flavors of sour cherry with a soft, persistent fruity, cherry finish. This wine was aged 10 months in neutral oak barrels.
Roques Alfrocheiro 2014 - Nicely balanced with fresh strawberry aromas and flavors and a lingering fruity finish.

All of these wines are highly recommended, my particular favorites in this tasting were the single varietal Roques Encruzado 2016, the Maias Jaen 2016 and the Roques Alfrocheiro 2014. Quinta dos Roques is part of Route 2 on the Dão Wine Route. It is tourist friendly featuring vineyard tours, winery tours, tastings and a wine shop.