Paul J. White
Wine judge, journalist, speaker, educator Nominated 'Best Drinks Journalist' Le Cordon Bleu World Food Media Awards 2001, 2003, 2005, 2007 & 2010 I write for magazines like: World of Fine Wine & Decanter (UK), Sante (USA), Slow Food (Italy), Wine (Portugal)...
Quinta da Lapa is shortened from the original Quinta da Conceicao da Lapa, translating roughly to ‘a rock or place that shelters a shepherd.’ It was built after the earthquake that destroyed Lisbon in 1750s by a retired Governor of India and a province of Brazil. The current owner Silvia Canas da Costa (an architect by trade), has restored Lapa’s 18th century manor house with impeccable taste and it is easily one of the region’s most interesting rural hotels. Rooms face a central courtyard which creates the feel of an ancient Roman villa. Extensive use of marble, hard wood and clean lime covered walls marries the clean lines of modernism within the natural austerity of native period architecture. The small private chapel has been sensitively restored with painted marble walls of the period. Silvia’s partner, Andre Magalhães, is one of Lisbon’s most respected chefs and a staunch Slow Food supporter. So between the two, the standards both adhere to ensure any stay at Lapa is as culturally fulfilling as it is pleasurable.
Located in the Tejo region, north of Cartaxo and about 75kl north of Lisbon, Quinta da Lapa sits on elevated terroir, with soils containing more clay and stone compared to the sandier, siltier soils hugging the Tagus river valley. Like many producers in Lisboa and Tejo, French grapes were planted alongside existing Portuguese grapes in the 80s and 90s. And like many other producers in the area, their portfolio is a mix of pure Portuguese blends and pure French varieties and a mixture of both.
That said, the young team at Lapa are exploring a new way forward and one has a sense they are moving away from what amounts to a French interruption and towards new interpretations of their Portuguese heritage. Lapa’s team are staunch champions of a under-valued local grape variety called Tamarez (also called Trincadeira das Pratas), their innovative mix with Touriga Nacional is a prime example of thinking out of the box. Food friendly wines worth keeping an eye on.
Their most compelling wines include: Quinta da Lapa Touriga Nacional/Tamarez 2012, Quinta da Lapa Arinto 2011, Quinta da Lapa Colheita Seleccionada 2010, Quinta da Lapa Syrah/Touriga Nacional 2009, Quinta da Lapa Reserva 2009 and Quinta da Lapa Reserva 2001.
Quinta da Lapa 2009 Doc 13% A broad mix of Touriga Nacional, CS, Aragonez and Syrah. Fruity, raisiny, ruby port-like aromas, carry on through a smooth, fruity mouthfeel, with nice acidity. www.winedisclosures.com Tasted 10.2012
Quinta da Lapa Arinto 2011 Leading with fresh, clean bright aromas, it feels cool, juicy and fleshy in the with neutralish, grapey flavors and nicely balanced acidity. Very pinot blanc-like. www.winedisclosures.com Tasted 10.2012
Quinta da Lapa Branco 2012 An 80% blend of Tamarez and 20% Arinto. When first opened the wine was neutral and lean, but opened up on the 2nd day, rounding out with grape and stonefruit flavors and balanced acidity. Surprisingly, even better on the 3rd day, fleshing out considerably with grapey flavors and mineral notes and just enough of Arinto acidity to keep forward motion spinning on its merry way. www.winedisclosures.com© Tasted 6.13
Quinta da Lapa Colheita Seleccionada 2010 13% This barrel aged blend of 70% Arinto and 30% and Tamarez shows good minerality with herb and floral high notes, firm texture, checked by firm acidity. www.winedisclosures.com Tasted 10.2012
Quinta da Lapa Do Tejo 2010 DOC This Tamarez and Arinto blend is crisper and leaner than Lapa’s pure Arinto, with neutral mineral characters. www.winedisclosures.com© Tasted 10.2012
Quinta da Lapa Espumante Brutto 2009 9 months on lees. This blend Arinto and Tamarez shows neutral, slightly grassy aromas, neutral fruits, light bodied, crisp. www.winedisclosures.com Tasted 10.2012
Quinta da Lapa Merlot 2010 Relatively old vines makes this a start in their French lineup. Meaty, gamey, spicy, cedar-like aromas, play on through fruitcake flavors, held together by firm, but fine tannins. www.winedisclosures.com Tasted 10.2012
Quinta da Lapa Reserva 2001 This nicely maturing wine shows a lovely mix of floral tinged red and black fruit aromas, velvety textures, fine acidity and tannins. Still a young wine, with years of live ahead of it. www.winedisclosures.com Tasted 10.2012
Quinta da Lapa Reserva 2008 Doc 13% A quarter each blend of Touriga Nacional, CS, Syrah and Aragonez offers up floral dried black fruit characters representing a cooler vintage than 2009 with a finer, more elegant linear style with firm acidity. Should age well.