When you wander into a wine shop these days and you’re after a Merlot or a Chardonnay or something like that, you take it for granted that what’s in the bottle is actually what’s on the label. Years of study at research labs, and in the vineyards, have left most growers in no doubt as to what grape variety is in there. But for many years that just wasn’t the case, and in Portugal it’s something that’s now being seen as a selling point to the wine geeks of the world.
Portugal used to be one of the most infamous countries for its vine growers not knowing what was in their fields. On the whole this is not a good thing. If 95% of your vines are top end Cabernet Sauvignon, and then 5% is some early budding, over leafy wrong ’un, then it can’t help but mess up the final taste of the wine. It’s in most vineyard owners’ interests to get it sorted. It’s been so thorough in the past 20 years that we’re now not only talking about what vines are in there, but also what clone of that vine. The strive for perfection continues at pace.
It’s a bit unfair to criticise, but pace isn’t always something the Portuguese wine makers have been famous for. And for those that have a couple of fields that they haven’t quite gotten around to sorting out yet, mostly through financial constraints, maybe the chickens are about to come home to roost. Better techniques in the vineyard and better equipment in the cellar will avoid too many nasties and improve quality. So a field blend will be ok regardless, and once turned into a wine effectively becomes like a lucky dip for wine lovers.
Ok, if you’ve got to get that pairing for the roast goat (Douro classic) bob on then maybe pick something else, but these ones will be for the wine clubs out there to sniff and swirl and guess to their heart’s content.
Check out Quinta das Tecedeiras, Flor das Tecedeiras, your man Harry Crowther can sort you out with where to get it.