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Posted by portugalpress on February 22, 2018

Every year around this time, anyone working in the catering business here in the Algarve, and most people who are in any way connected to wine, look forward to the annual Decante Vinhos two-day tasting event at Vila Vita Parc.

Officially the launch of the wine distributor’s annual catalogue, it’s not open to the public and attendance is by invitation only. But all the same, over 800 people attended this year, filling the main ballroom at Vila Vita Parc and spilling out onto the terrace. And what an event it was!

A total of 36 wine producers, mostly from Portugal alongside others from France, Italy and Spain, were there to offer tasting to the trade visitors, represented in many cases by the owners or winemakers themselves.

It took place on February 19 and 20, and, like many visitors, I went along both days, splitting my tasting into one day for whites and rosés and the other for reds and fortified wines.

Considering that each producer had at least five if not 10 wines to try, the quantity of wines to sample at such an event is quite mind boggling. I personally tried around 140 over the two days, concentrating on wines that were new to me and returning to a few old favourites.

I started at one of the top producers in the vinho verde region, Soalheiro, noting that the new 2017s of their Alvarinho varietals are drinking far better now than the 2016s were at this time last year. But I like good Alvarinho with at least a couple of years bottle-age on and was very impressed with a 2006 Soalheiro Primeiras vintage that has aged wonderfully, with aromas reminiscent of aged Riesling.

Carrying on with the whites, my first real discovery was in fact a Riesling, from Casa Cadaval in the Tejo region, near Lisbon. The winery was one of the first in Portugal to plant Pinot Noir some 60 years ago and has a reputation for its varietal wines, but Riesling is new to them, having been launched in 2013.

The 2015 currently on sale is the first I have tried and is up there with the best Portuguese Rieslings: fresh and vibrant citric notes, even a hint of the signature petroleum on the nose and good acidity, it will be interesting to try this wine after a few more years in the bottle.

Some other very interesting whites came from Horácio Simões, a producer near Setúbal that is best known for fortified Moscatel wines. They have launched two white wines made from the Boal grape, a variety of which is used for Madeira wine. Here the Tradição and the Grande Reserva labels are both wines of great complexity and minerality.

On the reds, I was drawn to producers from the regions I am most passionate about: Dão and Bairrada. Quinta da Pellada produces one of my favourite reds, Pape, and the 2012 that is currently on the market is now drinking wonderfully. I also tried some limited-edition wines that they have made from small lots, just a few hundred bottles, outstanding but too obscure to mention.

From Bairrada, there was Baga from Filipa Pato including the superb Nossa Calcário and also the wines of the small yet highly-respected producer Sidónio de Sousa whose Bagas are made in the traditional style, needing time in the bottle; their 2006 is only just about ready.

I could go on and on about tasting top Burgundies, Barolos, Riojas and Champagnes, but that would just be rubbing it in for those who were not invited!

This is a great event, testament to the success of Decante Vinhos, a company founded 26 years ago here in the Algarve that has grown step by step, year on year, even through the leanest years of the recession, and is now one of Portugal’s leading distributors of high-quality wines with a nationwide operation and warehouses in the Algarve, Lisbon and Porto.

Vila Vita Parc excelled in every way ensuring that nobody went hungry with everything from sushi to Turkish kebabs, cheese, light snacks and pastries, something to pair with pretty much any wine.

Congratulations are in order both to Decante Vinhos and Vila Vita Parc for a great event that brought together the Algarve catering trade like no other.