Portugal Sweet Wine Trophy
Rozès Noble Late Harvest 2009
Magisterial in scale and grandeur, at some 250,000 hectares, the Douro Valley is the world’s largest mountain vineyard. With size comes range in elevation and aspect, whose possibilities are being ever eagerly explored by the region’s dynamic producers. While Port remains the Douro’s most famous wine, the region’s expanding repertoire includes some head-turning table wines, like this sweet Trophy Winner.
Sweet table wines are something of a rarity in the Douro but then the Port house of Rozès was founded in 1855 by Bordeaux wine merchant, Ostende Rozès and has remained under French ownership ever since. Not that Rozès, which has been owned by Champagne house Vranken-Pommery since 1999, was tempted to ape Sauternes.
Rather, the aim was “giving value to indigenous varieties of the Douro region,” says winemaker Antonio Saraiva. First made in 2007, Rozès Noble Late Harvest is made from 100% Malvasia Fina, which comes from a relatively cool, elevated site at 600m above sea level.
About 30% of the grapes were harvested and left to raisin for 30-40 days on the sun-drenched terraces. The balance was harvested in late November when morning fogs and humidity created the perfect conditions for botrytis to take hold and work its honeyed magic on the grapes.
In another twist on the classic, oak was eschewed in favour of French acacia barrels, which Saraiva explains “is a very soft, sweet wood which decreases the enrichment of the tannins in the wine, contributing to its aromatic preservation, giving freshness and complexity.”
The panel couldn’t have agreed more with his assessment that, in 2009, this delectable sweet wine is possessed of great “minerality, freshness and elegance.”