Quinta da Murta Clássico 2009 is a well structured white wine from Bucelas, a region near Lisbon. It is claimed that some years after the Peninsular War, the Duke of Wellington gave a few bottles from this region to Queen Victoria, who is said to have enjoyed them immensely.
By João Barbosa
Lisbon expanded greatly during the 20th century and took over agricultural lands that surrounded it. The town of Bucelas was one of the victims that fell to this urban sprawl. Still, some hectares of vineyards managed to survive, although nowadays there are less than ten producers. Traditionally, this area supplied the Portuguese capital, being where the company Camillo Alves was established, a wine emporium during most of the 20th century.
Bucelas is a small region exclusively of white wines, the only one in Portugal. Although in a recent past it admitted the production of sparkling wines and late harvest wines. The wine’s style also evolved.
The region encompasses hilly terrain, cooled on one side by the marine air and on the other by the breeze that comes from the Tagus river. These wines are therefore of a cool temperament. The traditional practice is somewhat different to that which has become generalised today. Nowadays much lighter wines are produced, which are not aged in oak barrels, while those which gave it its fame were more structured and were matured in wooden deposits.
Quinta da Murta‘s oenologist believes the future of a small region such as this one lies in returning to tradition to a certain degree, since it has no conditions to compete in terms of quantity or price. This Quinta da Murta Clássico is thus, as the name attests to, an evocation of those whites that gave it its fame.
Bucelas has another curious story. During the Peninsular War, the Duke of Wellington was stationed in Portugal fighting Napoleon‘s armies alongside the Portuguese. According to the tale, the British soldiers based in the region of Lisbon fell in love with these wines. The Field Marshall himself greatly enjoyed them. One day, sometime later, he gave a few bottles to the young Queen Victoria. As far as we know, the queen herself also fell in love with the Bucelas wines.
This region is where the virtues of the Arinto variety, one of the finest varieties of Portuguese white grapes, are better expressed. This white was matured for one year in wooden barrels, being subjected to “bâtonnage”, a technique which consists in “stirring” the fine lees that remain in the barrel, placing them again in suspension, which confers a greater body. This is a well structured wine, fresh and prolonged in the end.
Quinta da MurtaRegion: Bucelas
Producer: Quinta da Murta