Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Wine-Down Wednesday- Portuguese 'Gold'

Chryseia is Greek for 'Gold', a play on the River Douro's name (which means "gold" in Portuguese).

Before we talk about this amazing wine lets look at the Portuguese wine history:

Portugal has had a longer tradition in wine making than most realize; it is safe to say at least as far back as 5000 BC. Most think ‘Port’ and ‘Madeira’ when they hear Portugal right? I have had a few Portuguese wines in the past, and when I got the invitation to attend a  tasting glass to glass Portuguese red wine, well, my answer was a definite “YES”!

Their history producing wine comes from much earlier than the foundation of its Nationality; its history tells us that the Greeks in and around the area borders Pre-Portuguese Republic were already producing wines, and became involved in the wine trade soon after. The early history of Portugal, whose name derives from the Roman name ‘Portus Cale’ has a Mediterranean climate. Csa in the south and Csb in the north. Portuguese wine comes from vineyards that are planted from the northern to the southern regions. Portugal is a small country, but it has a variety of soils and climates that make for so many interesting wine choices.

Portuguese wines have deserved international recognition since the times of the Roman Empire, which associated Portugal with their god Bacchus. Today the country is known by wine lovers and its wines have won several international prizes. Some of the best Portuguese wines are: Vinho Verde, Vinho Alvarinho, Vinho do Douro, Vinho do Alentejo, Vinho do Dão, Vinho da Bairrada and the sweet: Port, Madeira Wine. Moscatel from Setúbal, and Favaios. Port Wine is well known around the world. The Douro wine region is the oldest in the world- ranked 10 in wine making around the world.

Arguably, I read in Wine Spectator, Chryseia could very well be Portugal's top red wine that's not a Port - this wine is unusual, tasty, and an amazing deal for a world class bottle of wine. Reminiscent of a 1st growth Bordeaux, but made from Portugal's native varieties: Touriga Nacional, a low yielding variety of great complexity and finesse, and Touriga Franca (was Touriga Francesa) which is more tannic. Also used are Tinta Roriz, known as Tinto del País (Tempranillo) in Ribera del Duero, and Tinto Cão, a variety with a most attractive aroma.

Chryseia Winery- "A joint venture between the Symington family and Bruno Prats, formerly of Chateau Cos d'Estournel in Bordeaux, has produced Chryseia (House of Dow, Warre, Graham Ports). The wines produced are a fully extracted wine, with purple colors and rich tannins, but it is also finely balanced and very elegant. Most when released are still young, with a dry finish, it should develop in a classic Bordeaux way over the next 5-10 years."

'Partner In Wine'* Chryseia Notes:

Typically if you have not ever attended a wine tasting class- you have six glasses, a tasting note sheet, pencil, and an array of snacks to nibble on while the class takes place (to coat the palate). Tonight was no different. Michele had the learning table set up; ten people signed up to participate; two and half ounce pours of each wine are waiting in each glass, and an experience with this Portuguese wine story to share. Let the tasting begin!

Not all classes have the wines poured and ready. This is part of the aeration that takes place in the glass we discussed in the past 'Wine Myth' post. A classy move on the host part. As discussed young to older wines should have room to breath. Breathing does not take place in the bottle. One wine is even chosen to be decanted, and waits on the kitchen counter. A bonus pour- Post Scriptum, a sixth wine will sit as we spend time with all the big brothers.

(Michele has stated that she found these wines online. Peaking her curiosity she ordered one in particular, the '03, and felt a side by side wine tasting is in order. She also shares that the third wine stood out upon tasting at her last group, and is her all time favorite. All wines we are told, are medium to heavy body. The following are my own tasting notes.)

All the bottles contain some combination of the 4 varieties that I mentioned above: Touriga Nacional,Touriga Franca,Tinta Roriz, aka Tempranillo and Tinto Cão..
Wines listed by (bottled) date, left to right-

These wines are meant to be fruit forward. Berries of either dark cherry, blueberry, or even raspberry with subtle french oak aspects. I love the oak aspects of wines, but felt these were not at all out there. 

'00 & '01:   I felt these two are acidic and high tannic on mouthfeel, but '01 changes with salami and cheese, so my fondness grows. Both fruit forward, and lighter in body.

'02:  This year was never bottled, does not exist.

'03: My first impression upon swirling and sniffing was 'Wow', and cherries. If Michele had not made any statement about this being her favorite, I would still have chosen it as my #1 favorite of the bunch. Straight across the board good with or without food. The purple fruit presentation and mouth feel are feminine, medium body, but soft with low tannin - the oak is there too but sparingly used.

Wine Spectator & Wine Enthusiast both rate this - 92

'04: Ultimately, it may come down to your style preferences, but I felt this was good, but the '03 was better. The tannins were more present, but again with the fatty meat and cheese, and time it opened up. After a few more years it may compare to the '03.

Mark Squires, The Wine Advocate- 93

'05: Beautiful rich blackberry and black cherry fruit by the addition of wood spice and vanilla. Tannins are supple, yet firm enough to give the bold fruit focus and structure on the finish. I read that many of these are better the second day, and as they sat they did open up by the hour.

These all are refined, well integrated tannins around the edges that become more prominent with air, and it grows on you.

Mark Squires, The Wine Advocate- 92

'05: Post Scriptrum de Chryseia- This wine's name comes from the wine does not live up to its big brother, '05 flavor profile, but is always made whereas the Chryseia is only made in good years.

Wine Spectator Rating - 86

The wine is made from the traditional Douro/Port varieties Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca and Tinta Cao, in that order. It’s a fine mouthful of black fruit and spice, with the elegance you’d expect from a Bordeaux master. I have placed my order for the '03 and '05 Post Scriptrum de Chryseia. I would recommend you buy a bottle of this if it is available in your area; available on-line. Shipping to certain states is prohibited, so make sure you check with on-line retailers. Pricing varies from $28 - $60 per bottle. 

Medium to heavy body allows for food pairings from Chicken, quail, beef, wild game, pork, potato, rice, pasta, egg dishes, and with a variety of sauces. I could even see some of these paired with smoked meats, and an edgy spice, or BBQ sauce with hints of cherry in the flavor profile.

Michele A. Heaton- American Wine Society Member, and wine advocate has been sharing and tasting wines for many years. Always did like wine as I never acquired a taste for beer - Boone's Farm, White Zin. Graduated to Rieslings then took a wine class in 2002 and within 10 weeks was turned into a red wine lover - Petite Syrah and Zins especially Rosenblum Zins became my favorite. Now I'm heavily into Grenaches - Rhone, Spain or Oz.

Currently taking Wine & Spirit Education Trust classes...first steps to a Master of Wine.

If you are interested in participating in her well guided wine classes please contact me, and I will forward your information.

*Partners In Wine is a partnership, and business venture between Chef E Stelling- Member AWS who is adventurous in all reds, whites, fortified spirits, and most of all a Scotch/Whiskey lover! She enjoys pairing wine with food, travels the country in search of good wine, as well as takes continuing education wine and food classes.

Adrienne Turner, Member AWS- is a wine writer and advocate who loves her reds, especially Baby Amarone, but shares a love for tasting and talking about how wines can change one's life. She also shares her partners love for Scotch/Whiskey, and is involved with continuing wine education classes.

A website for their joint venture is in the works!