Esporão Alentejo Reserva 2011
Wine: Esporão Reserva
Grapes: Alicante Bouschet, Aragônéz, Trincadeira, Cabernet Sauvignon
There's a new wine bar and retail shop in downtown Florence called Carriage on Court inside the Court Street Market, an indoor farmers market that recently opened. I wandered in a few nights ago in need of human interaction. It's very easy for me to go an entire 24 hours and speak to no one but my cat. Occasionally she responds, and sometimes she argues. Still, one has to keep up the appearance of sanity...
The wine bar has a neighborhood feel and many of the same characters frequent the spot. Like all great bars, proprietors Caleb and Jason have their devoted regulars. I always see old friends and usually make a new one when there. That evening, Jason opened this bottle of Portuguese red for us to try. I was pleasantly surprised.
Esporão red Reserva is made from a blend of alicante bouschet (a French varietal grown mostly in the south), arogónêz (called Tempranillo in Spain), trincadeira (a Portuguese native variety that favors the dry, hot climate of southern Portugal) and cabernet sauvignon (French/international variety). Heredade do Esporão is one of the oldest wineries in the Alentejo region of Portugal, though only in the last 15 years has it been producing table wines of considerable quality, and from what I understand, that's a general note about the region as a whole.
Australian winemaker David Baverstock joined Esporão 22 years ago and added an accomplished touch to the vineyards and the winemaking. The red reserve is vinified in steel tank then blended and aged in 70% American and 30% French oak.
I typically dislike American oak treatments, which can impart notes of dill and coconut into a wine. But the play here was subtle and well integrated. Overall, I thought the wine was tasty, an easy sipper and I'd love to try it again with food, though there was some smoked blue cheese, which I would never think to try myself but it was offered, that paired quite well with the wine.
Esporão Reserva 2011 displays fully ripe berry fruit, hints of vanilla and spice, American oak is subtle, smooth tannins, a little bite, good acidity, medium long, light finish.