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Quinta dos Carvalhais Branco Especial N.V.

Quinta dos Carvalhais Branco Especial N.V.

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"The NV Branco Especial (Quinta Dos Carvalhais) is the new release, this one bottled in January 2017. Although a multi-vintage blend of 2005, 2006 and 2009, you can tell what I'm reviewing by the bottling date on the back label. It is a blend of 40% Encruzado, 30% Gouveio, 12% Semillon and 18% miscellaneous others in the field. It comes in at 13.5% alcohol. The final blend has an average of ten years or so in French barriques. The first impression here is wood, but the second is that it is surprisingly transparent and has remarkable grip on the finish. This year, a slightly newer vintage was introduced (2009) to give the wine a little more lift and freshness. Personally, I didn't think it needed much (and 2009 isn't the freshest white vintage in Portugal, as a rule). This isn't quite as complex as last year's, but it may be even more precise and more elegant. It is nicely done, the price reflecting the late release and unusual treatment. None of the three vintages was particularly famous for whites but together the whole may exceed the sum of the parts. There were just 6,740 bottles produced. Drink: 2017-2031. 92 points

Big companies often don't get respect, but Sogrape does a great job in multiple regions, including Dão (Quinta dos Carvalhais), Alentejo (Herdade do Peso) and Douro (Ferreira). There are also terrific values up and down the lineup. The simple Planalto white in Douro usually punches way above its weight. Recently, I had the low-end Grão Vasco white in Dão (about $4 on a shelf in Portugal) and it showed well, too. Sogrape tends to deliver at all levels."

Mark Squires, Wine Advocate (232)