Sunday, February 7, 2010

A Winter Picnic - Indoors

The lovely and talented Miss Jaq was in town for a brief visit from Abu Dhabi and the Emirates and I think she brought some of the warmer weather from the Arabian Peninsula with her. The sun and the spring-like weather was great for a day of adventure, but it wasn't going to put any more snow on Cypress Mountain with the Olympics a week away.

It's not surprising that, given her home's on the other side of the world, we don't get to see Miss Jaq very often. So we have to make sure that our short visits are always good times with plenty of laughs, food and good wine. Despite the sun of the day, it still wasn't quite to the point where we could enjoy another of our classic Wine Picnics, so we merely moved the picnic indoors and made a stop at DiVino on Commercial Drive. Ordering up an assortment of meats and cheeses is a pretty good simulation of a picnic - and this way there are even chairs.

345. 2007 Quinta do Crasto Douro Reserva Old Vines (Douro DOC - Portugal)

Was a time when Portugal was celebrated for Port but not much more in the wine world. Sure there was Mateus and Vinho Verde; however fine, still wines remained primarily local - if they were made at all. That's definitely been changing as more and more producers look to improve the quality of their still wines and to export them worldwide.

Quinta do Crasto has deep roots in winemaking. The first references to the winery go back to the early 17th Century. The current proprietors - the Roquette family - are now into their fourth generation of operating the winery.

Long known for its Port, Quinta do Crasto has been making table wines only since 1994. They felt that the fruit grown in the area was capable of making great wines and they hoped to show the potential of the Douro area. Their wines have been well-received from the start and they consistently garner high marks and, indeed, one of Quinta do Crasto's showcase wines is the Wine Spectator's highest-ever scoring table wine from Portugal.

The winery is located in the Douro region. Located in the North of Portugal, the Douro is one of the country's best known regions and became the first demarcated wine region in the world in 1756. Over 100 varietals grow in the Douro and many of them are indigenous - or at least particular - to Portugal.

The fruit grown for this wine is indicative of that diversity. The grapes come from a vineyard block that consists of old, low yielding vines with up to 30 different varietals. The winery doesn't even pretend to give a breakdown of the grape varietals that go into up the wine. Their winemaker says that there is no recipe. They simply look at quality of the grapes that come in each year and take it from there.

This year's blend worked fine for us. If we didn't have plans for later on in the evening, a second bottle would have disappeared without any problem at all.

One interesting fact about Quinta do Crasto is that they still crush the grapes by foot with all their Ports and, where time and space allow, with some of their table wines as well. Despite all the new machinery available, the winemaker proclaims that, sometimes, the old ways still work best. They still see crushing by foot as perhaps the best method of extracting the fruit of the grape, without as much tannin being drawn from the seeds.

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