It's Portugal's largest wine company that takes this award home...

Vinhos Sogrape Callabriga Reserva, Alentejo 2005

For Salvador

Guedes, President of Portugal’s largest wine company,Sogrape Vinhos, “until the

1980s, the story of Sogrape was similar to Mateus Rosé, which then represented

90% of sales.”

Since then, the company

has diversified into new regions (and indeed abroad, with projects in Chile,

Spain, Argentina and New Zealand), transforming itself into a global player renowned

for the quality of multi-regional brands like Callabriga as well as single

estate wines and the Mateus brand.

Callabriga

Reserva Alentejo 2005 was sourced exclusively from Herdade do Peso, which

Sogrape acquired in 1992. The estate,

which accounts for a sizeable 162ha of the company’s 828ha Portuguese vineyard holdings,

is located in the Vidigueira sub-region in southern Alentejo.

In the very hot, dry summer of 2005,

Sogrape’s considerable investment in a large dam and drip irrigation paid off

handsomely, not least since this wine mostly comprises Aragonez (Spain’s

Tempranillo) which, notoriously, drops its leaves during hydric stress. Winemaker António Graça recalls “since June,

every vineyard block had plant water stress measured on a weekly basis, and irrigation

was being used to avoid major photosynthetic arrest.”

Following

“repeated berry sampling and tasting, coupled with lab data,” this Southern Red

Trophy Winner was picked from carefully selected blocks” because, Graça

explains, “showing the best balance between sugar and acids was crucial for the

quality in this wine.”

True to the Alentejo, this Aragonez-led blend with a

dash of Alicante Bouschet and Alfrocheiro Preto showed terrific intensity and

complexity of flavour, while its structure, remarkable freshness and finesse

won the hearts of the panel.

Written by Sarah Ahmed