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Delhi Wine Club
Portuguese Wines from Viceroy of India

Posted: Wednesday, 03 August 2011 17:20

Portuguese Wines from Viceroy of India

August 03: Quinta da Alorna is a Portuguese winery, 45 minutes East of Lisbon, founded in 1723 by Dom Pedro da Almeida who was the first Marquis of Alorna as he conquered the Fort Alorna in Goa , and was the 44th Viceroy of India from 1746-50. The wines from the winery were presented to a select group of invitees at the residence of the Portuguese Ambassador H.E. Jorge Roza da Oliveira last Friday, writes Subhash Arora

Photos By:: Adil Arora

Marquis of Alorna Pedro da Almeida conquered the Fort built by the Bhonsles in the village of Alorna on the Chapora River, about 31 kms from Panaji in Goa in the 17th century to defend against attacks from the Marathas from the North. Ambassador Roza da Oliveira is keen to win the hearts of Indians with Portuguese wines in the 21st Century. No wonder before taking  his current assignment, the Hindi speaking Ambassador visited several wineries keen on exports to India. Quinta do Portal, Vinhos Niepoort and Quinta do Crasto were but a few of the wineries in Porto and Douro I had visited a month ago that he had also visited personally in their wineries or vineyards, before taking up this assignment.

It was thus no surprise when he invited about 25-30 wine stakeholders and connoisseurs of Delhi for a wine tasting with Quinta da Alorna which too he had visited personally before coming to India. Dora Martins, from the Export Department was also in town after visiting Goa. There were 6 wines to taste but the Ambassador and his charming spouse Maria who is also a warm and gracious hostess, had taken pains to match each of the wines with different snacks, most of which went rather well with the wines.

Introducing the Quinta (Quinta in Portugal means an Estate or the name of a single vineyard), Dora said that the property which had been bought by Lopo de Carvalho family in the early 20th century, was a  2800 hA estate having 220 hA of vineyards in Tagus Valley in Central Portugal, where the local varieties like Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo), Arinto, Fernāo Pires, Verdelho grow along with the international varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Chardonnay and Alicante Bouschet making several interesting blends, some of which were sampled and enjoyed by the invitees with the snacks. The winery made over 200,000 cases last year and exports half its production in 20 countries. Interestingly, the winemaking team is headed by a woman- Martta Simões.

Tasting Alorna Wines:

The tasting started with the basic wine Quinta da Alorna White 2009 paired with cheese, crackers and bread.  A light to medium bodied, pale coloured wine, it is a blend of two local varietals of the Tejo region-Arinto and Fernāo Pires. Quite fruity with citrus as the predominant flavour, it is slightly off-dry, making it a delicious and clean wine for novices and connoisseurs alike with slightly spicy Indian snacks that can be handled with a shade of fruitiness or sugar.                                        84/100

Marquesa de Alorna Branco 2009 is a more serious wine that won’t be great as an aperitif because of the oaky character in the flavour. Rather complex with yellow fruits in the forefront, it is a well structured wine which is still too tight and perhaps will drink better in another couple of years when it would be perfect with chicken or pork dishes. The small quantity they make every year, about 250 cases, made it a very special wine to be tasted in Delhi by the select few.                                        91/100

The portfolio of red was led by the basic Quinta da Alorna Red 2008 which is a dark Ruby red coloured medium bodied wine- a blend of local varietals Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo in Spain), Castelão with the French grapes Syrah and Alicante Bouschet. Floral aromas, soft tannins with flavours of cherry and dark bitter chocolate carry on till the end. An appropriate and affordable nice wine for vegetarians too because of the ripeness of tannins and fruitiness.                                                                                                          88/100

Quinta da Alorna Reserve 2008 is a blend of wines from two grapes Touriga Nacional and Cabernet Sauvignon. Full bodied, aromatic and spicy, feels more of Cabernet Sauvignon characters, it  is quite a fruity and powerful wine with a good balance and harmony all around. Felt slightly higher than 14% alcohol mentioned on the bottle. Well balanced and structured wine with sweet vanilla flavour, and should age for a few years and show off its best.                                                                                                                 93/100

Marquesa de Alorna Tinto 2008 A secret blend of grapes, the composition of which is not disclosed even to Dora Martins (although one wonders how the knowledge of the varietal blends  would make a difference to consumers or competitors) it does seem to have Cabernet Sauvignon and Tinta Roriz and one can feel the aging in oak barrels. Spicy and floral aromas, ample berry fruits with a touch of chocolate on the back layer. Excellent wine which sings on the palate.  Serious too- it would go well with red meats like mutton kebabs, tikkas and even mutton curries.                                                                          92/100

Quinta da Alorna late harvest 2009
Although Indians have not gotten into the habit of drinking dessert wines yet, it is merely a decade since they have started drinking wines anyway too. Made from the local grape Fernāo Pires, the wine is very pleasant on the palate with honey being the dominant flavour. The acidity does not seem to balance the sugar so it is slightly cloying, with the exotic flavours not jumping to the front. It was a fine match with the toast with melted cheese but to give a contrast, I tried it with the spicy samosas which were simply delicious, but this wine did not work well either. It is best served with desserts or as a dessert-chilled at 10˚C.                                                                                                    85/100

For any import enquiries and more information, visit their website or contact Dora Martins, Export department at It appears the Wine Ambassador has many aces up his sleeve but will show his cards one at a time. It would be great to see his efforts bring fruit- the Portuguese grapes in the shape of wine.

Subhash Arora


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