MCF Rare Wine
A Perfectly Portuguese Sunday
Greetings from Tropical Storm Henri.
About a month ago, we were up at our friends Naama and Luis’ place for a lazy Sunday lunch, complete with the family TV moved out to the deck to watch the Euro match between Portugal and Belgium.
They’re a husband/wife team who run their own small, but fantastic book of Portuguese wines - and they’re also our good friends.
As our kids ran around the yard, discovering, among other things, the wonderful world of slugs, we sat and talked and ate and, obviously, drank some wine.
They opened plenty of fantastic bottles that afternoon, but and I wanted to share three of them today.
One was an easy-going, fresh Rosé of the Castelão grape made by the producer Mainova in the Alentejo. It was a classic pale pink, lively and slightly spicy on the nose, with a focused, crisp, palate that was also surprisingly potent in terms of structure. It was the perfect starting point, but I would have happily drank it all afternoon.
Next was another wine from Mainova's Moinante line called Branco Curtimenta, a blend of of Antão Vaz, Arinto, Verdelho and Encruzado, that spends three days on the skins. It's my style of ‘orange’ wine, and - given that is focuses more on a wilder, more savory streak, rather than the super juicy/fruity elements - the kind that I really like to have with food. Like the rosé, it was, at once, refreshing and lively, but, being from the Alentejo, quite textured and deceptively structured.
It was the perfect bridge to the next wine, a lively, fragrant, subtly smoky co-ferment from the producer Espera in Lisbon. It’s a Palheto, a hyper-local/traditional style of wine made mostly of indigenous white grapes (Arintho de Bucelas, Fernão Pires & Vital), but also a touch of Touriga Nacional, which obviously offers up the ‘red’ elements. This ‘Palheto’ style dates back to how Cistercian Monks made wine in the region during Medieval times. It's a stellar wine that sits right on the fence between a super-light red and a deeply-colored Rosé...in other words, it's about as versatile as a wine gets, especially on a warm afternoon like that (though I do find myself thinking it would be perfect on a rain-drenched day like today, as well).
As you’d probably imagine they might between two couples who both run small, semi-Quixotic wine companies, while navigating the whole elementary-school-aged kids thing, the hours ran quickly, but deeply.
Portugal lost the match, sending Luis into a brief spell of disappointed quietude, but I suppose a day so perfect needed at least one minor blemish to make it all the more memorable.
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MCF Rare Wine, Ltd