Adventures in Foreign Lands

As you may have read here on ye olde wine blog, I recently went to Portugal after winning a contest sponsored by Enoforum Wines. Enoforum Wines is an interesting company that I’ll have more to say about in a future post, but suffice it to say for the moment that they exist to produce and place Portuguese wines in foreign markets. A worthy goal for sure if what we tasted during our time in Portugal is any indication of the overall QPR of Portuguese wines. Enoforum’s purpose in bringing bloggers to Portugal is not only to expose them to the wines, but to immerse them in Portuguese culture. To that end, we played tourist for a week, seeing many of the highlights of the Lisbon area over our visit as well as playing enotourist by visiting wineries.

Since this is a wine blog after all, I’ll first tell you about one of the wineries we visited, Carmim Winery. Carmim Winery is a Coop, as are all 6 wineries from which Enoforum procures its wines. Carmim’s member farmers boast a total of 3600 hectares or approximately 9000 acres of panted vineyards. Like most of the land in the area, the vineyard land is multi-use, with sheep grazing among the vines, rows of olive trees planted among the rows of vines…etc.  600 farmers sell grapes to Carmim. I’ve previously only seen one other production that was on scale with the production at Carmim. The bottling lines at Carmim bottle between 9K to 11K bottles per hour, under 20 brand names.

Some of Carmim's many facilities

More of Carmim's many facilities

In addition to producing wine, Carmim produces olive oil. Yum. We tasted the olive oil a little later over lunch. I could have sat all day with crunchy bread and olive oil, but then you would have had to roll me home! While at Carmim, we tasted through part of the Enoforum line of wines as well as a few of the wines that Carmim produces. All of the wines from Carmim are available in the US, and Enoforum expects that its wines will be on shelves here soon. I will update you when they are as they represent some excellent QPR, with the most expensive coming in at $20, but all but a couple falling under the $15 price point, and many under the $10 price point.

Olives on the trees!

2008 Real Forte White Wine: Roupeiro, Arinto, Diagalues grapes. 13% alcohol. Expected retail: around $6.99, Tropical, start fruit, pineapple, lemon, citrus, crisp, light, slightly salty edges. (Enoforum Wines)

2007 Porto do Castello White: Antão Vaz, Arinto, Roupeiro grapes. 12.5% alcohol by volume. Expected retail: around $7.99, Light orange, citrus, flowers, lemon, slight tropical notes. Would be great with seafood. (Enoforum Wines)


2008 Régia Colheita Reserva: Antão Vaz. 13.5% alcohol by volume. Toasty, caramel, spice, apple, slight malo, apple flowers. Nice structure and acidity, light oak treatment. (Carmim Wines)

2008 Real Forte Red: Aragonez, Castelão, Trincadeira. 13% alcohol by volume. Expected retail around $7.99. Fruity, red berries, black cherry, tart plums, balanced, slight green notes, baking chocolate. (Enoforum Wines)

Old Amphora at Carmim

Old Amphora at Carmim

2006 Porta de Castelo Red: Trincadeira, Tinta Caiada, Touriga Nacional. 13% alcohol by volume. Expected retail around $8.99. Bright berries, raisin, mint, fig, plums, more complex, some spice, and herbs. (Enoforum Wines)

2006 Além: Syrah, Touriga Nacional. 14.5% alcohol by volume. Expected retail around $16.99. This was my favorite of the Enoforum Wines. Smoky, plums, blackberry, earth, meat, black cherry, nice finish, good structure/acidity. A steal for the price point. (Enoforum Wines)

Tasting Room

2008 Monsaraz Premium: Trincadeira. 14% alcohol by volume. Very smoky, black fruit, vanilla, bright black cherry, violets, nice finish, blackberry, cherry, some tannins, very young. Not yet released in the US. (Carmim Wines)

2003 Garrafeira Dos Sócios: Trincadiera, Cabernet Dauvignon, Tinta Caida, Alicante Bouschet. 14% alcohol by volume. Licorice, flowers, black cherry, black fruit, dark, cedar, big tannins, bitter chocolate, very dark. (Carmim Wines)

2007 Carmim Syrah: 13.5% alcohol by volume. Smoke, meat, berries, black cherry, plum, earth, mint, smooth, very nice, dark.

2007 Reguengos Reserva Red Wine: Trincadeira, Aragones, Tinta Caiada, Alicante Bouschet. Raisin, spice, plum, black berry, very very dark, tannins, black fruit, deep dark, spice, pepper.

Enoforum Wines

Quite a tasting and an introduction to Portuguese wines. I think this counts as the kick off to my goal of getting to know Portuguese wines in 2010!  Due to the rain, this was the only day we got out into the vineyards and I peppered the winemaker Rui with questions about vineyard practices and such. It seems that mechanized pruning and harvesting is the method of choice in Portugal as you can see from the photos. On average Carmim harvest 5,000 kilos/hectare, though that varies depending on what wine they are making from that vineyard.  Over the days we were in Portugal, I believe more rain fell than usually falls annually in Portugal. The rain could make for an interesting year for the vineyards, so I guess we’ll see as this year’s harvest approaches.