The main Character: 2016 Esporao Reserva Red
Over the past years I have grown fond of wines produced in places such as Portugal and Spain. The flavors, the cuisine, and the landscape calls to me every time I uncork a bottle of wine from one of their regions. My first “Ah-ha” wine of southwestern Europe was this exact wine I am writing about today.
For first several months of my training and exploration as a sommelier, I strived to focus on French wine and was unsuccessful in navigating the French land for many reasons. Aside from my professional studies I kept sipping on Italian wines, which opened the door to wines of southwestern Europe.
While visiting my favorite local wine and spirit merchant, Bag and String Wine Merchants, I was introduced to the 2016 Esporao Reserva Red. In hind sight I was a bit hesitant to try it and didn’t open the bottle until about a month or more after purchasing it. Little did I know then how drinking this particular bottle of Portuguese wine from Alentejo would spark my continuous journey and search of Portuguese and Spanish wines.
Rated 91 points out of 100 by Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate and another 91 points out of 100 by Wine Enthusiast, the 2016 Esporao Reserva Red will escort you back to the Old World. It will be an ongoing battle not to stock your wet bar, pantry, wine fridge or cellar with multitudes of this beauty in a bottle.
The Wine Maker
Alentejo is located in Portugal and known as the biggest wine region. The scorching and parched landscape not only produces incredible wine, but more than half of the world’s supply of cork. The character of the top wines produced in Alentejo are full of spice, plum and pepper.
David Baverstock & Sandra Alves are known as the creators of this divine liquid. They believe in keeping the entire wine making process with integrity. One of the high lights I personally enjoy about each bottle of wine I open, is how each is committed to a high standard of production. Nothing less.
The grapes are hand-picked. Red wines are vinified (converted into wine by fermentation) through temperature-controlled vats, pressed, then aged in American (60%) and French (40%) oak for 12 months. The wine is then aged 8 months in the bottle. What a masterpiece! An incredible relationship demonstrated by art and science working together.
Production of white wine seems less intense, but don’t be fooled. The grapes are picked in the cooler hours of the morning, then vinified (converted into wine by fermentation) separately and partially aged for 6 months on the lees (the dead yeast cells which are leftover from the fermentation process) in French and American oak barrels. The 6 months of lees may sound gross, but the flavors produced in the process are worth the wait.
Wouldn’t you want to drink a work of art knowing the very desires of the wine makers is to produce high-quality wine? They are guided by three principles: Non-conformity, responsibility, and excellence. These men and women create and allow room for creativity to be birthed in order to bring the customers and consumers (you and me) only their best. There are no short cuts to their process to guarantee an honest wine. Read their following statement:
“We do not accept “perfection is the enemy of good“. Criticism should be constructive, and should be viewed as such. It is our customers and consumers who judge us and we are pro-active in asking them, responding with improvements.” – Esporao
Read that statement again. My heart leaps with joy every time I read their statement. Drink wines provided by makers who have your best interests in mind and you will never drink a lousy bottle of wine or waste your money. Whether you pick a bottle from the shelf in a store, order online or choose from a recommendation, research what’s behind the label. It only makes what you’re drinking more enjoyable and powerful.
When you construct a wine with varietals such as Tempranillo, Tinto Fino, and Cabernet Sauvignon to state a few, you end up with amazing color, aromas that create fantasies and tastes which seem to never end.
To the eye, as I poured the glorious 2016 Esporao into my glass it proposed an intense ruby color at the center. As I tilted the glass on its side and hovered it over a white blank canvas, the outer rim of the glass displayed and even softer hue.
On the nose so many aromas were flooding my nostrils. At the beginning I picked up notes of black cherry, and plum. After swirling the wine a little more I went back for a second pass and picked up even more aromas like earth, leather, cinnamon, and even subtle hints of cigar box. Don’t be concerned about tasting earth, leather or an empty cigar box. No need to fret. Those are deeper discoveries and you’re unlikely to pick them up while enjoying a glass by itself or with food.
On the palate the yummy flavors of dark cherry, plum, blueberry, blackberry, spice, cinnamon, vanilla, were dominant. Once it mades it way to the back of my throat I picked up a touch of bell pepper and oak on the finish. Truly a delight.
The Reserva is so smooth you can pair it with almost anything…not everything. I chose to break the rules on “wine pairing” methods. One evening I created pan-seared white fish with seasoned riced topped off with fresh made strawberry and jalapeno salsa. Normally I wouldn’t recommend pairing a red wine with something containing spicy heat. Chicken, pasta, seafood, vegetables, beef, cured meats and cheese will marry very well with this Reserva.
When it’s all said and done, don’t get lost in the details of what should be paired with which entree and how. Allow yourself to get lost in the story found within the bottle. Take a mental journey and allow your taste buds to talk you through it. The average price for the 2016 Esporao Reserva Red costs between $15.00-25.00 per bottle. Think about it this way. If you drink coffee on a regular basis, you are probably more than likely to spend that or more at Starbuck (hehe).
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