Ungrafted Vines Flirting with Extinction - Adega: 05 Colares Ramisco & 08 Colares Malvasia

Posted by Joe Salamone

Ungrafted Vines
Flirting with Extinction
Adega Regional de Colares:
2005 Colares Arenae Ramisco (500ml)
& 2008 Colares Arenae Malvasia (500ml)

The Colares region of Portugal is home to unheard vineyards of ungrafted vines and some of the most unique, compelling and ageworthy wines we've tasted.

It is also flirting with extinction.

A mere 12-14 acres remain of what was once a sprawling cluster of vineyards overlooking the ocean.

Colares is in a beautiful area right on the ocean close to Lisbon, so it's a choice place for city dwellers to create weekend homes. For the past fifty or so years, vineyards have been replaced by beach houses.

The wines that result are rare, but remarkable. The reds are based on the Ramisco grape and the whites are based on Malvasia Colares. They represent thrilling wines. They must be experienced.

The aging ability of red Colares is legendary in wine geek circles. Bottles from the 50s are still very much alive, complexly so. Ramisco is a grape of high tannins and high acid that combines a fairly light body with elegance and deep complexity. It's been called the "Bordeaux of Portugal" for its longevity and class.

Placing red Colares is difficult; it seems to encompass so much in a single wine. Think of a combination of Bordeaux, Burgundy and the Northern Rhône and then, add a Northern Italian vibe.

In the context of red Colares, 2005 is a friendly, drinkable now vintage. There's a Burgundian weight and finesse married to some of the tobacco and herbal notes of Bordeaux with an even more savory kick from gently briny olives and woodland berry notes. The acid backbone is thrilling and gives the wines a gorgeous sense of energy and length.

It's nearly impossible to compare the 2008 Malvasia to anything. It's waxy, floral and with subtle spices and sweet herbs. The most pronounced thing is the wine's intense, salty minerality. It just cries out for seafood.

Colares' sandy soils allowed it to escape the phylloxera, the vine pest that ripped through Europe's vineyards in the late 19th century. It's the only region where American rootstock didn't need to be extensively used.

Planting the vines is painstaking. You have to dig deep into the sand until you hit clay, which can be a far as nine feet down. Then, the sand gets slowly filled in.

The combination of the work involved with maintaining the vineyards and the value of the real estate have threatened the vineyards with extinction. Thankfully, Adega Regional de Colares is putting in enormous energy in keeping Colares alive.

Wines this compelling and singular deserve to be preserved. Even though not many wine drinkers know it, we'd be impoverished were they to disappear.

To order, reply to offers@crushwineco.com or call the store at (212) 980-9463.

Joe Salamone
Wine Buyer
Crush Wine & Spirits

Adega Regional de Colares

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