Wednesday, June 26, 2013

2009 Flor de Viseu Tradition

Producer: Flor de Viseu

Name: Tradition
Varietals: Alfrocheiro 50%; Tinta-Roriz 25%; Touriga-Nacional 25%
Region: Dão D.O.C., Portugal
Vintage: 2009
Tasted: June 18, 2013
ABV: 13%

It was all my fault. I could just chalk it up to a rookie mistake, sure, but it really was poor form, and I ought to own it. You may rest assured that I locked away all of my toys and sat myself in the corner to think about it. The lesson is learned, and the foolish negligence shall not be repeated. Now I know better.

And yet, at the same time, I cannot wholly regret what I did. In addition to learning a valuable lesson, I got to spend some rewarding time with a delightful young wine sporting a keen personality. The transgression, you see, was opening and tasting a wine first, then checking the vintage charts second. Vice versa would have been sensible, an attribute that I have never been accused of having.

By the time that I saw in the charts that the 2009 Dão reds are highly rated but not quite ready, it was a redundant discovery. Upon first sipping - indeed, even upon first gazing at - the Flor de Viseu Tradition, its quality was apparent, but its youth was even more so. The color is well on the purple side of things. The heart of the glass sports a smooth, even melding of ruby and garnet hues, though it takes a moment to discern that because the liquid is very, very deep, dark, opaque.

The nose, too, gives away the wine's youth. At first it is an indiscriminate medley of dark reds, but distinct notes of plums, prunes, and a little bit of cherry emerge. It is tannic. There is also a smack of rhubarb wrapped in spice. In fact, spice-wise, it is like strolling through a forest of cedar and sandalwood. The nose does, however, also betray plenty of latent sweetness.

The palate is of black plums, cherry, and other dark reds. It is rich, sweet, tannic, full-bodied, and undoubtedly fresh. The spice is still there, though understated somewhat. Peripherally, there is some pomegranite and more of that rhubarb. The finish is quite interesting, as the reds lighten up: cherry and strawberry.

But all of this, I fear, may serve to obscure the important qualities of the Tradition more than to illuminate them. The personality, you see, is a distinct pleasure. Here we have a wine like a strong young lad. He is not silent, and not unconfident, but we must be patient in seeking a conversation with him. We get wisps of youthful strength here and there, but they disappear as soon as they ever came about; the wine avoid excess, not out of any utilitarianism, but out of simple habit. Then, when he is ready, this he just starts showing his stuff - the same stuff we always knew he had, but in unexpected places and at unexpected moments. The randomness is almost goofy. And, it is a pleasure to be a part of it. Of course, with all of this give, there is not as much take - the conversation is a bit one-way - but that is not at all inappropriate for a boy. There is plenty of growth yet to come.

Which begs the question: Will all of that growth occur with a little while of breathing, or does the wine need more time in the bottle? Alas, after twenty minutes of aeration, we are met with the bane of every adult's existence: adolescence. The wine is just a tad off the wall now. The nose at first seems plausibly mellower, but then bam! We are back to the spice. The reds may have lightened up, but only a little. The tannins are out in force, and there is a bit of acidity. I note alpine strawberry, plum, dried cherry, and a whiff of watermelon. It really is quite spicy. And, the palate has evolved in quite the same manner. The fruit pulled back a little bit, leaving spice, tannins, and acidity. Not that the fruit disappeared, of course - rhubarb, pomegranite, and strawberry are still there. The finish, astoundingly, is incredibly mild: a tiny dab of spice, some vague fruitiness, and not much else.

So, the wine grew up, but only a little. These are the teenage years. He is still strong, still seeking to charm, and indeed he is well equipped to do so, with occasional success. However, he is less sure of himself, less sure of his identity, of what he wants to be, of how he ought to present himself. He can be recalcitrant at awkward times; at frustrating times. There is dynamism, of a type that is attractive on the surface, but that can be a bit much at intimate levels. But the wine has, at heart, a good personality, and some patience - admittedly, more than may be tasteful (no pun intended) - will yield great reward.

Many wine drinkers prefer to let wine age in the bottle at least a moderate amount before opening and enjoying. Such people should have this wine in about two years, at which point it ought to be absolutely outstanding. In fact, I bought another bottle of this same wine, and taped a note to it saying, "Drink In 2015". But if you cannot wait so long, or are not the type to bother about how mature a bottle of wine is, then there is plenty of joy to be had now. Pair the wine with red meat, heavily herbed fowl, or the cheese of your choice, and enjoy this keen young lad's company.

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