Taking Gold at Decanter World Wine Awards
At the 2017 Decanter World Wine Awards, no Portuguese wine scored higher than the 96-point, 2014 Casa Ferreirinha Callabriga. “Bold with wonderful ripeness,” raved Decanter, awarding a Gold medal to the 250-year-old estate’s magnificent red. Known the world over for its iconic 100-point Barca Velha bottling — the most recent release, from 2008, sells for $400 — Casa Ferreirinha has now produced the year’s hottest Portuguese wine. A pure expression of the Douro, Portugal’s greatest viticultural region, the 2014 Callabriga flaunts savory herb, black plum, cassis, and graphite with characteristic vibrancy. For those eager to try what might be called a “baby Barca Velha,” Wine Access has secured the only stateside allocation — just 300 bottles, at the superior price of just $35 per bottle.
Deep, dark, and brimming with intensity, the 2014 Callabriga was crafted by Luis Sottomayor, one of Portugal’s most revered winemakers. Named “Winemaker of the Year” in 2012 by Portugal’s leading wine publication, Sottomayor deftly blended three native varieties — Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional, and Tinta Roriz (the same as Spain’s Tempranillo) — to make the 2014 Callabriga. Jancis Robinson aptly described Touriga Franca as playing “Cabernet Franc to Touriga Nacional’s Cabernet Sauvignon,” with Touriga Franca adding lift and finesse to the broad-shouldered power of Touriga Nacional. In Sottomayor’s hands, the blend is expressive, rich, and elegantly balanced.
Sottomayor’s estate-grown fruit was sourced from the upper region of the Douro known as Douro Superior. The best grapes in Portugal come from the Douro Superior, which is the most arid part of the region, and the most difficult to plant. But just as Napa’s rocky, mountainside vineyards yield some of the most powerful, complex wines in the Valley, so does the steeply terraced Douro Superior. Boasting characteristic earth tones buoyed by fresh red and black fruit, the 2014 Callabriga is a snapshot of the best Portugal has to offer, made by its greatest estate.