Quinta das Marias Crudus, 2018
Style/ Colour White
Grape varieties 100% Encruzado
The producer Peter Eckert, a Swiss national, fell in love with Dão wines during the eighties when he managed the Portuguese subsidiary of Zurich Insurance Group. In 1991, he and his wife acquired Quinta das Marias, restoring the house and re-structuring the neglected vineyard. Having taught himself to make wine, Eckert made his first in 1998 and won a gold medal at the annual regional competition the following year. Whilst the estate’s reputation is founded on powerful modern red wines, I have been drawn to his Encruzado whites. Introduced in 2018, Crudus - a taut top tier Encruzado – was made by Luís Lopes, who joined Quinta das Marias that year. It is the first of a new series of special ‘Out of the Bottle’ releases. Lopes cut his teeth at Álvaro Castro, one of the Dão’s most acclaimed winemakers and, tasted from barrel last February, Crudus blew me away. I duly extracted a promise from Lopes to send me a finished sample which, if anything, surpassed expectation. With only 960 bottles made, I am thrilled to have reserved an allocation for Bar Douro Wine Club.
The vineyard/ winemaking This 100% Encruzado hails from Quinta das Marias’ oldest vines, planted in 1990. The handpicked grapes underwent further selection in the winery. After a short period of skin contact, the grapes were pressed, then naturally fermented in French and Austrian 400 litre barrels for 34 days. The resulting wine aged for 20 months on light lees and was bottled unfiltered and unfined.
Tasting notes Scintillating from the off, with a tightly wound, flinty (reductive) nose and palate and spicy oak (still integrating), it puts me in mind of Burgundy. With rapier-like acidity, this ultra-long Encruzado is fine and persistent, with ripe lemon, steely grapefruit, al dente white peach and salty minerality – a touch crushed of oyster shell – which I picked up in the regular Encruzado cuvée from 2019 too. It really cleaves to the palate, remaining precise, with ‘pingy’ tension on day two, the salty minerality pronounced.
Food Pairing White fish, oysters, arroz de lavagante (Lobster rice)
Serving recommendations Drink 2021-2026+
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