Poetic Portuguese

Ruddy garnet. Ruby at the core, but a definite brownish tinge as it thins out towards the rim. Vibrant, floral ripe nose, warm and decadent, a dessert-like concentration of candied black berry and cherry preserves. You can SMELL the sunshine in this thing, warm and cassis-driven, toasty oak glowing densely, perceived sweetness on 11. A seriously rich bouquet, sandy loam at the core, citrus minerality dripping from every surface.

This up-and-coming label highlights forgotten or rare varieties from the classic stands of California vinelands. Here we have a favorite of mine: Contra Costa County– the bottom-less sand, drainage-basin home of storied old-vine Mourvedre, Zinfandel and Grenache–but here we have one of the CLASSIC Port quintuples: Tinta Cão. You don’t see this by itself too often, and I love things like this in the bottle well done.

In the mouth, more surprises–all of a good kind. All of the decadence of the nose greets the tongue, but quickly shifts to a far raspier animal. Black and bitter shortly after entry, it takes the full, sunny attack and leads it straight into a cave of dank briar, black walnut and unripe seeds. The fruit clarifies from the chubby roundness of the nose, going pointedly thin, bright and refreshing–a raspberry and dusty açai storm of charm with a fleshy foundation. I don’t think this is a ridiculously hi-acid or low-alcohol wine, but the chalky tannins and pointed clarity serve those respective purposes nicely. The finish lingers forever in gorgeous fruit and structure, and while it may not be the world’s most food-friendly wine, it fits nicely into the California palate of *drinking wines* and is quite beautiful.

2018 SABELLI-FRISCH ‘Luciades’ Tinta Cão Tamayo VYD Contra Costa Co. California 14.6


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