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Alves de Sousa Abandonado 2015

Alves de Sousa Abandonado 2015

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"The 2015 Abandonado is a field blend from some 25 different grapes (principally Tinta Amarela, Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional and Sousão) aged for 19 months in a mixture of 60% new French and Portuguese oak. It comes in at 14.5% alcohol. This, said winemaker Tiago Alves de Sousa, was a year with an early harvest and very dry, like 2005. Sourced from a plot over 80 years old, it is typically the most distinctive of the winery's offerings—some will like its personality more than others. It's the terroir, said Tiago. "You feel the surrounding forest with eucalyptus and pine trees, the freshness from the altitude (500 meters), the schist that is right on the surface, the complexity from the more than 25 grapes mixed, the natural concentration from the very low yields of these 85-year-old, once-abandoned vines." Drink: 2019-2035. 92+ points

Whatever the source, this is always a bit different, and it sure is this year. It is very fragrant, perfumed and a little eccentric in its flavor profile, with some plums in liqueur, a hint of mint and perhaps a bit of nail polish around the edges. There are also some oak artifacts contributing just now too. That "liqueur" reference, by the way, isn't meant to indicate that it is jammy or sweet—it is neither. In fact, it is bright and lively with lifted fruit and a sense of restraint in this vintage. The velvety texture adds some sensuality. There is some tannic pop on the finish, but the tannins lean very much to ripe, making this surprisingly approachable now. The mid-palate depth is good, and it puts on weight as it sits in the glass.

Two days later, it seemed virtually unchanged, an impressive achievement in most ways. It was still aromatically flamboyant, perhaps to a fault, but impeccably crafted. Overall, this is a very elegant and sophisticated Abandonado, but clearly it leaves me with some doubts. It's fair to say that I'm not quite as impressed with it as the producer is. How you like its personality will control your views more than anything else. The style is more important than anything else. It may well be true, by the way, that this evolves and develops so that the more flamboyant nuances fold into the whole in time. We'll see. Right now, it's a bit jarring, and you really will have to like that flamboyant and quirky personality. Call this a compromise evaluation in the meanwhile."

Mark Squires, Wine Advocate (242)