6 Barrels Tawny Reserve, Quinta do Portal £15.99
The 6 Barrels comes from the family owned Quinta do Portal, where the Branco family farm some 100ha of terraced vineyards, hewn from the rocky slopes of the Pinhao Valley. The 6 Barrels is a Tawny Port that has been bottled at about 7 years of age.This slightly odd sounding choice of age means that alongside the nutty, spicy, dried fruit and candied peel elements you would expect from a Tawny you still taste hints of the glorious red berry fruit that this wine had in its youth. Whilst this may not be a text-book Tawny Port it is a delicious, harmonious and different take on the style.
Tannat/Viognier Reserva, Alto de la Ballena, Uruguay £20.75
Even in its native France Tannat is a somewhat obscure grape variety, confined mostly to its home-turf in Madiran, tucked in the south-west corner of France. But thanks to Basque émigrés who spread the variety to Uruguay, Tannat may yet rise and gain its deserved respect. Much as their Argentine neighbours have adopted Malbec, the Uruguayans have made Tannat their own.
In this wine Alto de la Ballena have taken a leaf out of the Rhône playbook and used 10% of Viognier to add perfume and freshness. This has a big, big nose, with layer after layer of creamy, dark berry fruit and hints of wild flowers. In the mouth it delivers more of the same with beautifully rounded, sensuous flavours and great balance. This really is a seriously impressive wine.