Bussaco Palace Hotel Reservado Tinto 2017
“This is a winery wrapped around a hotel run by the Almeida family. It straddles the Dão and Bairrada regions. The famed Bussaco Palace (now the hotel), was built in the 19th Century for Portuguese royalty. It sits surrounded by a national forest that became prominent in the 17th Century. It is one of the country’s iconic places.
For wine lovers, the focus will be on the fabled cellar with ancient vintages that prove how well some of the local grapes can age. With extreme age, to be sure, it often becomes about the bottle, not just the wine (as the saying goes) and some cork problems can arise, as Wine Director António Rocha noted–he is gradually addressing cork issues. Still, well stored and preserved wines seem to hang on indefinitely here in both whites and reds. They are very impressive.
As an aside, it is not easy reviewing wines with such long drinking windows and coming to an intelligent decision. The truth often is–who knows how long they will last? At times, with some older notes and with many properties, I have rebelled against putting down extremely long windows and instead took the position that we should do it in chunks and stages, reevaluating along the way. That has sometimes done a disservice to these wines, which I’ll attempt to correct now that we have some long verticals and a special focus. At this point, it is fair to say these wines have proven that long windows are no fluke. These verticals are just the latest examples. If that means you suddenly start seeing 50 years and 60 years as end-date drinking windows, don’t be shocked. Just take them with a grain of salt. Will the cork survive? Were they well stored? Did you get lucky? Shoot me an email in 2050 and yell at me if you think I was too optimistic or too pessimistic. One caveat: remember that these were all tasted at the hotel, just pulled from the cellar. They didn’t sit in the window on a retailer’s shelf for a year.
Provenance was perfect.
Some verticals of both reds and whites are included this issue, all tasted at the hotel and opened a couple of hours in advance. (The newer 2013 and 2014 whites were recently reviewed in the August 2016 issue.) They typically have a formula (except certain specialty bottles, like the VM): a blend of Maria Gomes and Bical from Bairrada and Encruzado from Dão for the whites; Baga from Bairrada and Touriga Nacional from Dão for the reds. Rocha advised that the older ones might be a bit heavier on Baga. On the whole, I found the reds as a group more stunning–a conclusion that surprised Antonio, but nonetheless. Maybe it was just the luck of the draw. There is plenty of fine stuff in both colors.”
Mark Squires, Wine Advocate (227)