That Alentejo has been one of the spearheads of Portugal’s vinous renaissance over the past 40 years is not without good reasons. Covering nearly one third of Portugal’s total area as well as hectares under vine, Alentejo boasts a kaleidoscopic range of indigenous varieties, terroirs and meso-climates. If winemakers are painters, in Alentejo they are generously provided with a palette of an infinite number of colours.
While Portuguese masters such as Julio Bastos of Dona Maria and Paulo Laureano of Herdade do Mouchão continue to uphold their usually high standards year after year, the international cohort of vinous innovators in David Baverstock of Herdade do Esporão, Carrie and Hans Jorgensen of Cortes de Cima and Dorina Lindemann of Quinta da Plansel have injected a certain Weltanschauung and Zeitgeist to Portugal’s most dynamic wine region.
A graduate of the Hochschule Geisenheim University, a.k.a. the “Oxbridge” of German wine education alongside Staatsweingut Weinsberg, Dorina Lindemann descended from a family originating from Pfalz in western Germany, whose winemaking history can be traced back to 1828. Her father, Hans Jörg Böhm, started importing Portuguese wines into then West Germany in the 1960s and, by 1969, had become the largest importer in the sector. Enchanted with Portugal – mind, the country was far less cosmopolitan and glamorous as it is now – he would later on settle in Portugal, becoming the first foreigner to create a wine export firm there post-Carnation Revolution.
As soon as she settled in Portugal, Dorina Lindemann started a vinous revolution in the vineyards. A proponent of “precision viticulture”, she began a rigorous selection of clones and vines, which were then planted in vineyards in accordance with specific terroirs and climatic conditions. Gone are the days of the old joke that the winemaker does not always know what varieties are planted in the vineyards – this has never been the case in Dorina Lindemann’s vineyards.
The name of her flagship brand, Plansel Selecta, derived from plantas seleccionadas, i.e. selected plants. Dorina Lindemann’s meticulousness with regards to vineyards reminds one of the German Einzellage system. Plansel Selecta possesses a quintet of premium vineyards in Quinta de São Jorge (7ha), Capela de Santa Margarida/Pintada (20ha), Quinta da Adua (9ha), Monte da Fidalga (15ha) and Monte do Reis (20ha). Would it not be fascinating, if one day there appeared a Monte da Fidalga Touriga Nacional or Monte do Reis Tinta Barroca? Alentejo has often been the battleground on which the traditionalist and progressive forces clash, but real advancement usually comes from synthesis, e.g. Quinta da Plansel’s adherence to Portuguese indigenous varieties through German precision.
Adega Royale (www.adegaroyale.com) is the exclusive importer of Quinta da Plansel in Macao and Hong Kong.
Macao – E: firstname.lastname@example.org; T: +853 2876 2111; F: +853 2876 2309; A: Avenida de Venceslau de Morais 185-191, Centro Industrial de Macau 12E.
Hong Kong – E: email@example.com; T: +852 2517 8080; F: +852 2517 6622; A: Suite 2002, Car Po Commercial Building, 18-20 Lyndhurst Terrace, Central.
A single-varietal Verdelho, sourced from vines grown on residual granite and metamorphic sedimentary soils. Manually harvested, cold-macerated, then matured in stainless steel vats (50%) and French barriques (50%) for three months. Limpid citrine with light golden reflex, the fragrant nose offers grapefruit, rosemary and crushed rock. With bright acidity and clear minerality, the herbaceous palate delivers pomelo, thyme and rock salt. Medium-full bodied at 13%, the citrusy entry continues through a steely mid-palate, leading to a tart finish.
A single-varietal Trincadeira, sourced from low-yielding vines (55hl/ha) grown on soils comprising clay, limestone, loam, sand and slate with high iron content and granite beneath rock layers. Macerated in open stainless steel tanks, then matured for nine months in stainless steel tanks (70%) and six months in French barriques (30%). Rich garnet with cardinal-ruby rim, the berry-laden nose presents blackberry, cassis, balsam, crushed rock and geranium. With dainty acidity and chalky minerality, the elegant palate supplies bilberry, damson, caffè espresso, graphite and cherry blossom. Medium-full bodied at 14%, the tangy entry persists through structured mid-palate, leading to a lingering finish.
A single-varietal Trincadeira, sourced from low-yielding vines (35hl/ha) grown on soils comprising clay, limestone, loam, sand and slate with high iron content and granite beneath rock layers. Macerated in open Lagars, then matured for 12 months in French barriques. Reddish black with carmine-garnet reflex, the aromatic nose effuses black cherry, mulberry, clove, caffè ristretto and charcoal. With generous acidity and clean minerality, the rounded palate emanates boysenberry, prune, nutmeg, dark chocolate and graphite. Medium-full bodied at 14.5%, the dense entry evolves into a caressing mid-palate, leading to a balanced finish.
Jacky I.F. Cheong is a legal professional by day and columnist by night. Having spent his formative years in Britain,
France, and Germany, he regularly writes about wine, fine arts, classical music, and politics in several languages