Altano Organico 2014 Douro


From €5.90, £8.75, CA$18 

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It’s an ill wind that blows no one any good. When the Symington family took a deep breath and acquired the port house of Cockburn in 2006, the purchase included considerable plantings in the Douro Superior, land that had been bought to secure stocks of wine for the best-selling Cockburn Special Reserve. This estate in the Vilariça Valley (shown here) is known as Quinta do Ataide. When they got to know the land, way upriver from the most famous central section of the valley most closely associated with port production, they realised it was likely to be particularly suitable for the production of Douro table wine. 

My wine of the week today is a Douro table wine made by the Symingtons that is a blend of certified organic ingredients from Quinta do Ataide, Quinta das Lages in the Rio Torto and Quinta dos Malvedos, the Graham's  port wine farm in the Alto Douro. The Symingtons’ 126 hectares (311 acres) of certified organic vineyard make them the biggest organic vine grower in Portugal.

Douro table wine goes from strength to strength, as was most recently reported here by Julia in Preserving the essence of the Douro. Altano Organico 2014 Douro is not the finest example available but it is wonderfully good value (like so many Portuguese wines, unfortunately for their producers), particularly for a wine that was aged in French oak for six months. It should appeal especially but not exclusively to those who like to support organic viticulture. It’s wonderfully vigorous and concentrated with the tiniest of references to port via the grape varieties therein but no sweetness at all. It is admirably appetising and beautifully balanced with notes of liquorice, brambles and tar. Quite a package considering the price.

I would drink this wine with food and strongly recommend decanting it if it’s drunk within the next two years as it still has quite a tannic charge. But there is no hurry to drink it; it should be going strong for three or four years at least. The alcohol level is 14.3%.

The 2014 vintage was not the easiest in northern Portugal. Budburst and harvest were relatively early with a bit of rain at harvest and storms in June and July but August was relatively mild and allowed steady ripening.

A total of 72,000 bottles were filled with this blend of Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Barroca, Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo) and Tinta Cão (a bit of a favourite with the Symingtons).

The wine is currently available at £9.99 from Tanners and Waitrose. According to they are undercut by the Halifax Wine Company. It is also available in Portugal, Holland and Quebec and is really quite a bargain.

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