Poças Porto and the 2009 Vintage

Poças Porto

I had the pleasure of meeting one of the members of the Poças team earlier this summer at a Portuguese wine dinner at the American Restaurant. It was a really cool experience, featuring a group of different winemakers and marketers whose mission was to spread the word about Portuguese wines in a brief tour of Midwestern cities. I feel like the Midwest misses out on a lot of these marketing tours and tastings, and the group had a very different and refreshing take on marketing wine. Their goal was, first and foremost, to promote the country as a whole, rather than the individual wines that were represented. I think that this is a really useful way for smaller producers to market their wines, and feel that more producers/regions should approach marketing this way. But, I digress….

Poças is one of the few remaining family-owned Porto producers in the Douro Valley. They began as producers of aguardiente, the potent brandy that is added to fermenting grape must during the Port-making process. They acquired their own vineyards starting in 1932 with the Quinta da Quartas (Baixo Corgo). In 1988, the Quinta de Vale de Cavalos entered into their holdings. This property differs from the stereotype of the Douro. Gently undulating hills mark the topography in contrast to the traditional steep, terraced slopes.  The Quinta de Santa Bárbara (Upper Corgo) was the next acquisition, a property which contributes significant amounts to the Vintage Ports and LBVs (Late-Bottled Vintage Port) that the firm produces.

Poças is particularly known for producing Colheita Port, a style of Port that is best described as a sort of Vintage Tawny.  These wines see extended aging in both barrel and bottle before being commercially released.  They also produce all levels of red Port and white Port, as well as Douro table wines that are becoming increasingly-lucrative ventures for many producers in the region.  The Poças label is their primary endeavor, but they also produce wines under the labels of Pousada and Porto Seguro.  Overall, this is a really sophisticated and forward-looking firm that deftly handles the traditional and the modern.  When I met Pedro Poças Pintão, he and his colleagues seemed interested in knowing what contact, if any, consumers had had with Portuguese wines and how they could reach out to the average consumers and members of the wine trade.  For more info, check out their truly informative and beautiful website http://www.pocas.pt

2009 Porto Vintage

The 2009 Vintage in the Douro was the third consecutive drought year in the area. From the get-go, this resulted in dramatically lower yields. A relatively cool spring gave way to a hot summer and a relatively early harvest. Fruit was extremely concentrated, resulting in wines with deep color, high extract, and high tannin levels. Taylor’s CEO Adrian Bridge stated that

“Such colour intensity and tannic structure have not been seen for over twenty years. However, the wines also display crisp acidity and wonderfully pure, vibrant fruit. Although they are built for long term ageing, like the great landmark vintages of the past, the 2009s are capable of delivering hedonistic pleasure even at this early stage in their development.”

A lot of what I have read suggests that the wines of the vintage are more elegant and more accessible that those of 2003, which was another hot vintage for the area and Europe as a whole. Only time will tell how this vintage will stand up, but I am excited by the hype so far.

Have any of you had a chance to try any of the 2009 Vintage Ports? I’d love to hear any experiences you have with Ports in general, or if anyone has had the pleasure of sampling any of the Porto or table wines of Poças!  I’ll be getting a bottle or two of the 2009 Vintage and will post notes shortly.

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