Ramilo, Colheita 2018 Vinho Regional Lisboa

Nuno Ramilo and Jorge Mata

A great-value Portuguese red that over-delivers on quality and pleasure.

From €5.65, $18.99, £14.95

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This juicy, pure, unoaked red is ridiculously good value and absolutely ready for drinking now.

The Ramilo family have owned the 20-ha (50-acre) Casal do Ramilo estate in the Lizandro Valley between Sintra and Mafra, west of Lisbon and not far from the Atlantic coast (as shown on their map below), since the 1930s but, as their website explains, ‘Time and the hardness of the vineyard work in the region led the following generations to focus the family business on distribution and marketing of wines from other regions, following the trend of agricultural abandonment that occurred in the region in the late twentieth century.’ They also own an estate in historic Colares, Europe’s westernmost wine region.

Ramilo locator map

Four generations later, brothers Nuno and Pedro Ramilo decided to tackle the enormous challenge of rebuilding the family estates, saving old vines and planting new ones. Nuno, a structural engineer, is in charge of the vineyards and winery, working with winemaker Jorge Mata, and collaborating with his brother and parents. (Nuno, left, and Jorge are pictured above.)

The Lizandro Valley provides a distinctive climate that shapes the style of this wine: cloudy mornings, breezes from the Atlantic, warm afternoons on the steep limestone slopes of the Cintra Mountains and cool nights.

I like to think you can taste all this in the Ramilo blend of roughly 50% Castelão, 25% Touriga Nacional and 25% Aragonez (known as Tinta Roriz in the Douro and Tempranillo etc in Spain). Colheita simply means 'harvest' though it does have a more specific meaning when used of port.

Here’s my full tasting note:

Deep crimson with a purplish rim. I can't explain why but this just smells so Portuguese! Fabulous fruit, both dark-red and black, lively and somehow wild, like small berries out in the countryside rather than in a domestic garden. On the palate, this is firm, with a bite of both tannin and acidity, yet rounded and full of vibrant fruit without any unwanted fruit sweetness, again that wild side. Fresh and so alive. A great all-rounder that you could drink with or without food. A lovely dark, slightly charry/savoury flavour on the finish even though it's unoaked. Intense, long, pure and delicious. VGV (very good value).

I gave the wine a score of 16.5 and a drinking window of 2020 to 2023 but was sorely tempted to up the score and lengthen the drinking window when I tasted it after it had been open for two weeks (admittedly in the fridge) and was still vibrant, perfectly balanced and fresh as a daisy.

The vines are farmed organically (not yet certified though they are considering it), the fruit hand-picked and fermented without the addition of yeasts in small stainless-steel tanks, the varieties blended after fermentation. The alcohol is a balanced 13%.

Up to and including the 2017 vintage, the wine was made partly from their own fruit and partly from that of their neighbours but in 2018 they used only their own organically grown fruit. As Nuno Ramilo explained, ‘Ramilo Colheita Tinto is still our entry-level red, but we decreased production and moved the blend and the style of the wine towards more elegance and freshness, which is much more according to the style of the other wines of our portfolio.’

Note that they also changed the label from a blue-and-white design to the smart typographical one shown below but not all the retailers offering the 2018 have updated the bottle image on their websites (see the Wine-Searcher link above).

Ramilo Colheita 2018 bottle
The new livery for the 2018 vintage

Nuno Ramilo confirmed that this wine is available in the UK, the US, Canada and Portugal. 

Their UK importer is the Portuguese specialist Raymond Reynolds, who listed the following stockists: Corks of Cotham, Bristol; Reserve Wines, Manchester; Butler’s Wine Cellar, Brighton; Vinoteca, London; Roberts and Henry, Liverpool; Stroud Wine Company, Stroud; D Byrne & Co, Clitheroe; DeFine Food & Wine, near Northwich.

Ramilo’s US importer is NLC Wines and their Canadian importers are Opimian and Agence Uva.

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