Colares, Where the Vineyards Snake Through the Sand


COLARES, Portugal — The vineyards in this small wine region west of Lisbon on the Atlantic coast look like something that slithered up from the sea.
Trained low to avoid the biting wind that blows incessantly off the ocean, the vines resemble green serpents snaking along the sand. It’s as if vines from a more conventional region had come to the beach on vacation and had collapsed in a deep slumber.
Colares, one of the world’s most singular wine regions, emits a sleepy timelessness. The grapes are grown today just as they have been for centuries, except far fewer of them can be found. As recently as the 1940s, vines covered almost 2,500 acres of these sandy soils.
Only about 50 acres remain, spread over a narrow swatch west of the Sintra area, where the royal families of Portugal escaped the steamy Lisbon summers for colorful wind-cooled palaces. Much of the vineyard territory was lost in the 1960s and ’70s to suburban expansion.
Yet Colares produces what may well be Portugal’s most distinctive still wines. The reds, made of the ramisco grape, are high in acid and powerfully tannic, so much so that they are aged for years in the cellars before they are released. The current vintage on the market is 2007.
For all their initial intensity, the wines soften after 10 years of aging, revealing a graceful complexity, with savory kaleidoscopic flavors: herbal, balsam and saline. The wines are low in alcohol, too, seldom reaching 12.5 percent.
The white wines — made from the malvasia de Colares grape, which is genetically distinct from other grapes called malvasia — are fresh, rich and likewise herbal and saline with depth and character. They do not require quite as much aging as the reds; the current vintage is 2012.

An article from The New York Times by Eric Asimov


Your Next Lesson: Godello From Spain


Wine is full of places and grapes that were virtually unknown 10 or 15 years ago. We’ve covered several of these, including assyrtiko from Santorini and the reds of Ribeira Sacra.
Now we come to godello, a Spanish grape that by the mid-20th century had almost disappeared. As has happened many times around the wine-producing world, a small group of growers and producers, dedicated to godello, revived the grape in Spain and demonstrated what could be achieved with conscientious farming and careful winemaking.
For the next month, we will drink godello from Spain, where it is largely grown in the northwestern regions of Valdeorras, Ribeira Sacra, Bierzo and Monterrei.
Some readers have occasionally expressed discontent with our focus on little-known wines. I would urge you to reconsider any objections. The goal of Wine School is to explore and to discover. This is not only part of the pleasure of wine, it is also a wise strategy for consumers in search of good values.
Highly esteemed wines from high-status areas are almost always going to cost more. The great values tend to be in wines that have not received widespread approval in mass publications. These are the sorts of surprises and discoveries that will delight open-minded consumers.
But the results are not guaranteed. Here’s a chance to see for yourself.

The three wines I recommend are:
-Guímaro Ribeira Sacra Vino Blanco 2014 (José Pastor Selections/Vinos & Gourmet, Richmond, Calif.) $20
-A. Coroa Valdeorras Godello 2015 (De Maison Selections, Chapel Hill, N.C.) $20
-Valdesil Valdeorras Godello Sobre Lías 2014 (Polaner Selections, Mount Kisco, N.Y.) $21

An article from The New York Times by Eric Asimov