Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Private Tasting Event Brings Portugal To L.A.

A tasting of Portuguese wines by Esporão took place in almost speakeasy fashion, at a private residence in Los Angeles. Esporão sales manager Pedro Lopez Vieira and winemaker David Baverstock (pictured) were on hand to describe the wines and their terroir to a casual crowd. It was so casual, I was advised that note-taking might be frowned upon. I did it as surreptitiously as I could, scribbling very small on the business cards of the two representatives.

Herdade do Esporão was founded in 1267 in the southern part of Portugal, across the country east of Lisbon. Portions of the estate built in the 1400s were laughingly referred to as "the new parts." Most of the grapes come from the estate, but they do grab a few from more northern areas of the country when needed.

Bob Blumer, our host for the occasion, prepared amazing bites to pair with the wines, in the style of his televised cooking show, Surreal Gourmet. Blumer's expertise with shrimp bisque, lima bean crostini, cod cake with pink mashed potatoes and duck snow cone - duck in an edible cone - left his guests without adequate words to compliment him.

A wide array of wines were poured:

Verdelho 2014 - Crisp and tart lime, very refreshing.

Assobio 2014 - A white showing great acidity. Grapefruit leads the citrus attack.

Esporão Reserva 2010 (pictured) - This masterful white wine features indigenous Portuguese grapes - Antão Vaz, Arinto and Roupeiro - with a bit of Semillon, which the winemaker says is a tip of the hat to his Australian heritage. Alcohol is at 14% - "Higher than I like," says Baverstock, "but that is what the grapes want to do." Forty percent of the wine saw oak for six months, on the lees. It is a great oak treatment, with lovely acidity and citrus all over the place. A savory edge of salinity makes this wine irresistible.

Monte Velho 2014 - Bright red fruition just a hint of oak, produced by sticking some stavesinto the tank.

Assobio 2014 - red bright little oak

Esporão Reserva 2012 - perfumed roses and violets compete with a big show of red fruit.

Quinta dos Murcas - The grapes were stomped - they call it "foot tread" on the label. This old vine red is bold, big and dark.


Follow Randy Fuller on Twitter