One of the things we learned early in our wine appreciation journey is the idea of thrift: spending less rather than more for a wine we truly enjoy. It takes a bit more effort to find those great value wines, but along with a delicious glass of wine comes a sense of satisfaction at getting a good deal. You can have both a delicious glass of wine and a good deal with the Monte Velho wines from Esporão. We received both of these wines as tasting samples.
In general Portuguese wines are very reasonably priced so, if you’re looking for excellent value, Portugal is a good place to begin. Blended wines are traditional for both red and white wines in Portugal, which gives winemakers lots of options for building flavor, texture and complexity.
Alentejo is an excellent place to look for delicious, affordable Portuguese wines. This large wine region is warm and dry during the growing season. Olives, cork trees and a variety of other agricultural crops are grown here in addition to vineyards. And Alentejo takes sustainability seriously with its Sustainability for Wines of Alentejo Sustainability Program (WASP) — the first appellation-wide sustainability program undertaken in Portugal.
Red wine grape varieties predominate here (80%), but also look for white wines and a little rosé. Red varieties include Aragonez (Tempranillo), Alicante Bouschet, Alfrocheiro, Castelão and Trincadeira. The white grape variety Antão Vaz is the darling of the region and is blended with Arinto, Roupeiro and others.
The Herdade do Esporão (originally Defesa do Esporão) estate dates back to 1267. Its boundaries are largely unchanged to this day and the estate is home to three historical monuments: the Esporão Tower, the Esporão Arch and the Nossa Senhora dos Remédios Chapel.
1985 was the first vintage released by Esporão in the Alentejo and they take their commitment to the land seriously by integrating organic farming methods in its vineyards, olive groves and other agricultural crops. Esporão is also a member of WASP. The two wines we are tasting today are sourced from grower partners throughout the Alentejo wine region.
2019 Herdade do Esporão Monte Velho Vinho Branco, Vinho Regional Alentejano — light golden in the glass with generous aromas of honeysuckle, orange blossoms, pineapple and citrus zest. Flavors are a bright combination of citrus, ripe melon and pear with oat hay and gravelly minerality. It’s a bit round and has a hint of tannins with a very long finish. 14% abv. SRP $10
Even cold this delightful blend of Antão Vaz, Perrum, and Roupeiro is beautifully floral with layers of flavor different from its aromas. This is a wine to look for. I am astonished by the complexity and balance of this wine…and for $10.
2019 Herdade do Esporão Monte Velho Vinho Tinto, Vinho Regional Alentejano — medium ruby in the glass with generous aromas of ripe blackberries and blueberries. Flavors follow with ripe blackberries, raspberries, cranberries and plums. Dusty gravel and dried herb flavors blend in the background with smooth tannins, medium body and medium finish. 13.5% abv. SRP $10
Touriga Nacional, Aragonez, Syrah, Trincadeira play well together in the bright, lively red blend. The fruit flavors are ample, but very bright with plenty of acidity and not at all overripe. Tannins are well integrated.
Both wines are made entirely in stainless steel. These are drink now wines and we were impressed with the quality of both. We enjoyed them with Sausage and Broccoli Rabe with Polenta, which Peter made using the Vinho Branco in the recipe. I sipped the Vinho Branco with dinner and Peter enjoyed the Vinho Tinto, though both paired equally well with the meal.
Thanks to Esporão and Creative Palate Communications for the opportunity to share these wines with you.