|Hello and Happy Friday!
In Perman news this week, on Wednesday we released our schedule of tastings an events through the remainder of 2014.
In typical fashion, we have sold out three tastings, France Vs. The Rest Of The World (Oct. 23), Piedmont (Nov. 6), and Champagne (Dec. 5). We just have one spot remaining for the Annual Champagne Extravaganza on Thursday, December 4th. Despite this, we ask that you still request to be on the wait list, as spots often open up.
Speaking of events, one event that we have plenty of availability, is our Iberia tasting on Friday, September 26th. We are really excited about this tasting and will have an outstanding and diverse selection of wines to taste. This is an informal tasting, and we designed it so that you could stop in anytime between 6 and 8 pm, and still leave plenty of time to grab dinner afterwards. We hope to see you there!
As many of you know, Craig travels to different wine regions throughout the world, researching and tasting, so that we can offer you only the best.
Today’s newsletter is a long time in the making. Almost 2 years ago, when Craig’s friends Abraham Conlon and Adrienne Lo opened the acclaimed restaurant Fat Rice, they asked him to help build a great wine list. With the restaurant’s connection to Portugal, they wanted to build a mainly Portuguese wine list.
Craig accepted but with one caveat – get on a plane to Portugal to research and find the small artisan producers. The type of producers that rarely existed in the current import portfolios of American importers. In June of 2013, Craig, Abraham and Adrienne took off for a two week wine and food adventure.
The result was finding some outstanding, world-class wines. It took a year to do, but now some of these wines are available in limited quantities at Perman Wine and at Fat Rice.
While we received many of these wines a couple months ago, we didn’t want to bombard you with tons of Portuguese information. That brings us to our newsletter today.
Many of our competitors write newsletters with the sole information being scores and tasting notes from publications. We try and educate and provide a source of information from someone that you know, have met, and can ask questions to.
So you will have to excuse us on this occasion because we are going to tell you a little bit about the current issue of Wine Spectator that has an article entitled “Douro Masterpiece.” While the focus is on the 2011 vintage of the Douro region of Portugal, it is a significant piece because it shows that there is more of an interest now than ever in the wines of Portugal, and it puts the great wines of the Douro on a world stage.
One of the producers featured in the article, Quinta Vale D. Maria is one that we visited last June (and Craig visited again just a few weeks ago) and proudly are the only retailer of these wines in the State of Illinois. Of the top 17 wines recommended by Kim Marcus of The Wine Spectator, 4 came from Quinta Vale D. Maria. An impressive showing.
The wines of Quinta Vale D. Maria are world class wines, and as such these wines don’t fall into the “value category.” But given their stature, and our belief that they are some of the best wines in the Iberian Peninsula, they are well worth the price tag.
We hope you enjoy the newsletter.
Craig & Sheb
Quinta Vale D. Maria
Having visited the estate twice, I can tell you that Quinta Vale D. Maria ranks as one of the most beautiful vineyards I have ever visited, as well as one of the most torturous to farm and work in. The Douro Valley is a UNESCO World Heritage site for a reason, the twists and turns of the valley, the incredible steep, terraced hillside, all along the Douro river are a sight to be seen.
Beauty unfortunately doesn’t make great wine. The terroir and those that carefully farm, harvest, and make the wine are responsible.
Located on the opposite side of the Douro river, and just a quick drive away from the village of Pinhão, the current history of the property starts in 1996, when it was acquired by Cristiano Van Zeller and his wife Joana. The property had been in Joana’s family for many years. A huge restoration of the property needed to take place, as well as increasing of vineyards through new plantings and long-term leases.
Today, Quinta Vale D. Maria has 31 hectares of vineyards. 16 hectares, which are fully-owned are 60-80 years-old. 10 hectares which have a long lease are between 25 and 80 years, and new plantings of 5 hectares occurred in 2004 and 2007.
The team behind Quinta Vale D. Maria is an impressive one. The Van Zeller’s have been involved in the Douro and Port trade since the late 1700’s. They owned Quinta do Noval, till it was sold in 1993. Cristiano Van Zeller was the manager of Noval till that point. His other team members include famed consulting winemaker Sandra Tavares da Silva (owner of Pintas), and full-time winemaker Joana Pinhão.
A range of wines is made at Quinta Vale D. Maria, from their value range called “Rufo” to the estate red, Curriculum Vitae, two single vineyards, and of course Port.
These are very limited wines, and to my knowledge I’m the only one in the US currently offering the three top wines of the estate, of which 24 bottles of each were imported.
We urge you not to miss these!
2011 Quinta Vale D. Maria Tinto, Douro
This is the flagship wine of the house, and the wine that you will see in the finest restaurants of Portugal.
There are over 40 different traditional grape varieties blended in this wine, with an average vine age of 60-years-old. The vineyards are co-planted with these indigenous varietals and harvested together. Some of the names include Tinta Amarela, Rufete, Tinta Roriz, Tinta Francisca, Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional and Sousão.
When the grapes are harvested they are foot trodden in traditional lagares, or open top stone tanks, with this process typically lasting 1 to 3 days. There is temperature controlled lining in the lagares to ensure a fermentation range in the 22 to 27 degree Celsius. Malolactic fermentation takes place in oak casks, two different sizes, and then aged for 21 months in barriques (75% new, 25% 1 year).
There is no doubt that these are full-bodied reds, but there is a particular balance to the wines that doesn’t exist in very many wines of the region. The 2011 is really special, combining lots of richness, without being jammy, lots of red and black fruit, spice, mineral and an incredibly long finish. A rare combination of power and balance.
Fans of fuller-bodied reds, wherever they are from, must not miss this!
$59.99 BTL. / ONLY 40 BOTTLES AVAILABLE
2011 CV – Curriculum Vitae, Douro
Before Cristiano decided to make his two single vineyard wines, Curriculum Vitae was considered the top wine of the house. Today, it is one of the top three, but still one of the most impressive wines made in Portugal.
The grapes are grown in one of their vineyards along the river Torto. It is a North facing vineyard, very old vines, with more than 80 years of age.
The grapes are foot trodden at Quinta Vale D. Maria for 2 days at a cool temperature between 16 and 18 degrees Celsius. 50% of that juice is fermented in the same lagares, and the other 50% in stainless steel vats. Aging is done in barrique, 75% new and 25% one-year barrels. Production is only about 6,400 bottles in total.
The 2011 has really come to form since I first tasted it in 2013. It is a magnificently rich, but still balanced and lengthy red, that offers notes of plum, black cherry, baking spices and cocoa. There is no doubt that this is built for the long haul, and I would urge any serious collector to stash this away, trying a bottle first of course, but drinking between 2018-2030.
$99.99 BTL. / ONLY 19 BOTTLES AVAILABLE – 24 BOTTLES IMPORTED
2011 Quinta Vale D. Maria “Vinha da Francisca,” Douro
A single plot on the Quinta Vale D. Maria estate, the vines for Vinha da Francisca were planted in 2004. The 4.5 hectare vineyard is planted with Tinta Francisca (an old varietal introduced in the Douro in 1756), Touriga Franca, Sousão, Rufete and Touriga Nacional.
Like the others, the grapes are foot trodden in lagares, but also fermented in those lagares. The wine was racked into Allier oak, undergoing malolactic fermentation in those barrels and aging.
We tasted this wine at my store with Francisca Van Zeller a couple months ago, and it was my current favorite of the bunch in terms of drinkability. The aromas have this insane fresh blackberry, boysenberry note, and the texture is pure silk. It does finish with some power on the end, but the length, acid and overall purity lead me to tell you that this is the elegant one of the bunch.
With only 5,675 bottles produced, it is a special wine, and to my knowledge, I’m the only one in the United States that imported it.
For those that want to drink sooner than later, this is special!
$99.99 BTL. / ONLY 9 BOTTLES AVAILABLE – 24 BOTTLES IMPORTED
2011 Quinta Vale D. Maria “Vinha do Rio,” Douro
The amazing thing about the Quinta Vale D. Maria estate is that every plot is identified and many vinified on their own.
It was this knowledge of their different terroir within the property that led Cristiano Van Zeller to decide to make a special wine from his oldest parcel on the property. Called Vinha do Rio (River Vineyard) it sits at lower altitude, very close to the river. The vines were planted 100 years ago.
The wine is fermented and aged in the same manner as Vinha da Francisca, but the flavors and identity are completely different.
Compared alongside the Vinha da Francisca, the aromas introduce a dark cherry, red currant note alongside darker berries, notes of mineral and cocoa. Texturally, this is much richer and full-bodied than Vinha da Francisca, but again with that hallmark balance and complexity.
One of the longest finishes on a wine from Portugal that I’ve tasted.
With only 1908 bottles produced, this is very rare stuff indeed, and the only place you will see it on the shelves in the US. This is always the wine that sells out the quickest from the winery.
A perfect gift to yourself, or someone else!
$139.99 BTL. / 21 BOTTLES AVAILABLE
2011 Quinta Vale D. Maria Vintage Port
Port is one of the great wines of the world. Regardless of whether you like sweet wine, fortified wine, there is no challenging the history and the specialness of the product.
It is a historic wine, with the Douro being the first legally demarcated wine region in the world, some 258 years ago.
Until 1986 all Port could only be exported from Vila Nova de Gaia, a city that sits across the river from Porto. Historically ships called “barcos rabbles” would carry the wine downriver from the Douro region to Vila Nova de Gaia. After the building of a few hydroelectric power dams, this changed.
With the changing of the law, there is now an opportunity for producers in the Douro region to do all their shipping and aging from their own estates.
I believe that one of the greatest myths out in the Portuguese wine scene is that only the big bottler / shippers in Vila Nova de Gaia can make great Port. I think there is an incredible future in the Ports from single Quinta’s in the Douro, and those myths will be difficult to overcome given the marketing force behind the big bottler / shippers.
I am so impressed with this fantastic Vintage Port, and I want my Port-loving customers to know that they have to stock up on this while available.
There has been a ton of hype, and rightfully so about Vintage Port from 2011. This is a good example why.
A quick primer on how its made, since it is always good to know these things. More than 25 different grapes have been combined to make this wine, from vines in the 25 to 60 year-old range.
At Quinta Vale D. Maria the grapes are foot trodden in stone lagres with 15% of the total Brandy added at that point. This allows them to macerate the grapes at cooler temperatures and for a longer period before fermentation. As the fermentation process takes place, the remainder of the brandy is added all at one moment to stop the fermentation. They still keep it in the lagar for two to four days for some more treading before moving the wine to large, 100+ year-old oak and chestnut wood Port casks, as well as stainless steel vats. The Port is aged for around 18 months before bottling. Only 6400 bottles were made.
One common misconception about Vintage Port is that you have to age it. “Have to” is a strange term because as someone that really loves Port, I had a bottle of this wine earlier this week and enjoyed it immensely.
The reality is, a greatly balanced Port like this tastes great young, but of course it can age for eternity.
While I was in Portugal I had a chance to sample a Port from 1900, that was insanely delicious, and still had the ability to age further.
Buying Port is an investment into your future, and fans of Port should buy 6 to 12 bottles of this and taste it over the course of your lifetime.
This truly fantastic Port from Quinta Vale D. Maria is one that you should stock up on!
And if you have a child born in 2011, this is the perfect gift to give them as they can drink it when they or 21 or when they are 80.
Lastly, I am offering this at a special price through the month of August, so please stock up now!
$59.99 BTL. – SPECIAL PRICING THROUGH AUGUST / NORMALLY $69.99 BTL. – ONLY 55 BOTTLES AVAILABLE