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CASA FERREIRINHA Reserva Especial, Douro Tinto 2009 Bottle (los)

Red Still Wine | Portugal | 75cl


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Red Wine

ABV: 14.5%
Size: 75cl
Closure Type: Cork
Country: Portugal
Wine Style: Full Bodied


Many wines the world over are whimsically suffixed ‘Reserva’ or ‘Especial’ for marketing reasons and to imply superior quality. However, the Casa Ferreirinha Reserva Especial really is a ‘special reserve’ in every sense of the two words, as it is essentially a declassified Barca Velha, with many of the hallmarks of Portugal’s ‘First Growth’.

Only produced in truly exceptional vintages, the Reserva Especial is made in exactly the same way as Barca Velha, from a blend of Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz and Tinto Cão from prime plots on the Quinta da Leda estate, with some fruit sourced from neighbouring vineyards at slightly higher altitude.

The grapes are hand-picked, rigorously sorted and vinified separately (by grape variety or by vineyard plot) at the Quinta da Leda winery. A cold pre-fermentation maceration and an extended post-fermentation maceration on the skins ensure full aromatic and polyphenolic extraction – enhancing the wines’ smooth tannin structure and pronounced flavours.

Following fermentation, the wine is transferred to cellars in Vila Nova de Gaia, where it undergoes around 16 to 18 months of ageing in 225-litre new French oak barrels before bottling.

During the ageing process and before release, several tastings are conducted by Luís and the team to determine whether the wine will be declared Barca Velha (a very rare occurrence with only 20 vintages declared since 1952). The decision on which wine will be declared is entirely up to Luís, and he takes this responsibility very seriously. If the wine doesn’t quite make the very exacting Barca Velha grade, it is declared Reserva Especial, but can still be considered one of Portugal’s finest wines.

The 2009 Reserva Especial is mostly a 45/30 blend of Touriga Franca and Touriga Nacional, with 15% Tinta Roriz and 10% Tinto Cão, aged for 16 months in 75% new French oak. It comes in at 14.5% alcohol. Very muscular, this has all the warmth of this difficult and very hot vintage. The fruit marches right up to the line of too ripe and perhaps goes over it. The wine shows dark baked-plum flavors and just a hint of prune. I liked it anyway, but it is hard to call it a great Reserva Especial, even with some elements of greatness to it. The structure here is astonishingly good, for one thing, leaving this tight and powerful. That's not unusual for this big vintage or the brand. However, it simply lacks the balance of the other wines. Personally, I'd take the 2009 Quinta da Leda (not seen for this issue) or the 2015. They may not be as attention-getting, but they are far fresher, particularly the 2015. Some may be happier with this, to be sure, others probably not. Let's start here and see if this holds its balance as it ages. A little caution is warranted. It may yet make its case in the cellar, and these tend to age very well—although (beware...) this is not the freshest year. There were 1,500 cases produced. Drink: 2019 - 2040 - Mark Squires, 31st Aug 2018.

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