Though established in the 1980s, I’d not come across Vidigueira-based Alentejo producer Herdade do Monte da Ribeira before. Apparently its first wine (made by Joao Portugal Ramos) won awards but, owing to the owner’s illness, there was a loss of focus.
However in 2010, a crack team was employed to dust it down. including leading consultant winemaker Luis Duarte (whose talent is also deployed at Quinta do Mouro, Herdade dos Grous, Herdade da Malhadinha Nova among others).
I met Wines Director Antonio Nora at London Wine Fair (pictured right, with London-based sales manager Antonio Carmona), who explained “we have some good grapes but poor ones too (including 20 year old Riesling, which was very bad!).” Suffice to say the Riesling is going, as is Roupeiro, and new plantings include Alvarinho, Verdejo, Arinto, with the aim of lending the whites more concentration and freshness. For the reds, Baga will serve the same purpose and Petite Sirah and Petit Verdot are also being planted.
The current crop of whites are clean and well made if a little lacking in concentration. While top reds Quatro Caminhos Red and Reserva were both concentrated and well balanced, it was the junior reds that really caught my eye, both fresh, bright but characterful. Well packaged too. Here are my notes:
Herdade do Monte da Ribeira Varal 2010
This blend of Aragones, Trincadeira and Alfrocheiro has Trincadeira’s classic whisp of tobacco on nose and palate, which lends a tickle of interest and texture to this modern, clean, bright red fruited wine. Well done.
Herdade do Monte da Ribeira Pousio 2011
Syrah chimes well with the Trincadeira and Aragones here, bringing its trademark spicy, peppery lift to the red fruits and subtle tobacco notes. Lovely freshness and spark to this. Very good.