Herdade do Esporão represents a massive investment and real faith in the potential of the Alentejo region. Dr Jose Roquette, brother of Quinta do Crasto’s Jorge Roquette (behind QUINTA DO CRASTO) has been very successful in developing what is now 600ha of vineyards spread across five different sites. Despite the size, winemaker David Baverstock (a leading influence in the development of modern, quality Portuguese wines) has set a high standard in both red and white wines. The Esporãolabelled and varietal wines are bold, powerful, ripe, intense, fruit-driven and oak-influenced. The Esporão Reserva is currently a blend of Trincadeira, Aragonês and Cabernet Sauvignon aged in American oak for 12 months and shows good richness and depth with 3–4 years’ age. Newish Private Selection/Garrafeira is powerful with lots of oak, extract and breadth and needs a decade to show at its best. Flagship Torre de Esporão first released in 2004 is muscular and impressive but requires time in bottle to really prove its worth. The pick of a series of varietal examples are the Alicante Bouschet, Aragonês, and Touriga Nacional which, with production slashed from 20,000 to 6,000 bottles, have moved up a gear in quality. Vinha da Defesa includes red, white and rosé. The red is based on Aragonês while the white, with good tangy, citrusy fruit, is produced from Antão Vaz, Arinto and Roupeiro. The same white varieties are oak-aged to give a ripe, spicy, creamy and peachy if unsubtle Esporão Reserva with moderate ageing potential. Private Selection white is Sémillon with Marsanne (90/10) and could easily be mistaken for a concentrated Barossa example. At an everyday level the best vintages of Monte Velho red can provide decent value and the Monte Velho and Duas Castas whites are very well made, fruity but refreshing wines that betray the Aussie touch. Least expensive are the Alandra red and white. Sparkling wine, a sweet wine and a range of olive oils and cheeses are also produced. The acquisition of Quinta dos Murças in the Douro, where Baverstock started his Portuguese career, promises to deliver if initial trial wines are anything to go on. Watch this producer closely – a great future.
To find out more about Esporão and their wines, and to see how we reviewed and rated their wines you can check out the Wine Guide Portugal..
Or indeed you can check out the new extensively updated 9th edition Wine Behind the Label Wine Guide that is 2250 pages, it reviews around 4000 vineyards and over 30,000 wines.