Following our previous chapter about critics, we can extend this contempt to wine competitions and other gold medals, the results of which can be questionable. This can affect the decision of which wine to buy, but now we have a few options of where to buy it.
Usually the most convenient is the supermarket; they carry a wide range of wines, many Portuguese, and at a good price. As we’ve seen in the chapter “Wine Storage” (https://macaudailytimes.com.mo/wine-storage.html), remember to avoid wines that have been on the shelf for too long. Unless they were kept in a wine cabinet, which very few are using, a bottle standing for too long under sunlight or even artificial light can quickly deteriorate.
A second option is the wine shops. Generally a bit more expensive than the supermarkets, but they can suggest more exclusive wines from boutique vineyards and offer advice or recommendations. However, in Macao this is unfortunately not often the case. For example I know a shop representing a famous Hong Kong brand where one of the salesmen used to smoke inside. (If only he was reading this wine column he would know how badly this can affect the wine.) Moreover when I would ask precise questions about a wine, the staff would stare back at me with an expression similar to a chicken in front of a knife.
The third option is to buy from wine importers. Since they usually import directly from the vintners, more often they offer a good knowledge of the wines and competitive prices. They also take more care of travelling and storage conditions. The “downside” (but is it really?) is to buy slightly larger quantities than you would in a shop.
A wine importer can be a bit like a critic as he chooses wines based on his taste and personality. They may also specialise in certain wine regions. So you can find an importer quite close to your personal taste, and discover new wines through their selection that suit you.
Wine merchants will occasionally promote their wines through tastings or wine dinners, and it is not rare to have a couple every week. There is a great Facebook page called “Macau Wine Tasting” (https://www.facebook.com/groups/1452591008346494/?ref=bookmarks) where most of them are listed. This is obviously the best option when it comes to deciding which wine to buy. All the knowledge in the world cannot replace a nip.
Unusually in the last chapter I selected a wine which was not really to my taste but highly rated. This time I will do the opposite by selecting another Portuguese wine which was not especially well received by critics, yet one of the most interesting I have tried in some time.
Wine available at www.eurovinhos.com.
This wine was tasted from a magnum bottle, after two hours of decanting. Equivalent to two bottles, the magnum usually costs more than twice the price. It is much more rare than the usual bottle and used for wines with ageing potential. The micro-oxygenation which occurs through the cork will be much slower than in a 750ml bottle therefore the wine can age longer, slower, and consequently will develop a more refined complexity.
This Leo d’Honor is made solely of the Portuguese indigenous red grape Castelão (also called Periquita). It thrives particularly on the sandy soil of the Setúbal region where this wine originates. Adaptable to a wide range of soils and climates this is a grape than can offer a versatile style of wines, from easy drinking to highly complex. This wine belongs to the latter as it is made only in exceptional years, from old vines and aged in new French barrels for an extended period.
Deep garnet colour, rich and delicate nose of crème de cassis, blackberry sorbet, black cherry juice, autumn undergrowth, young leather and cedar wood, developing to laurel and mushroom. Still very young on the palate with high acidity and strong, yet well integrated tannins. Comparatively the 2009 is easier to drink now, better to wait at least five years for this vintage, with an ageing potential of 15-20 years. Flavours of blackcurrant leaf, sandalwood, black pepper, redcurrant and cocoa bean. Long finish on cranberry and hot spices.
David Rouault is a professional classical musician, part time wine consultant and full time wine lover,
holding WSET Level 3, Certified Specialist of Wine and Introductory Sommelier diplomas. www.dionysos.com.mo