Bafarela 17 Vinho Tinto
Portuguese Wine Tasting Notes
A couple of weeks ago, Paul and I went for a late afternoon walk and then stopped at The Garden Café close to where we’re living, for a half-bottle of red wine (vinho tinto in Portuguese), and a snack. As we usually come to this café in the mornings for a cappuccino and a sweet, this was the first time we had stopped in for wine. Luckily for us, Paulo, one of the knowledgeable waiters at the café waited on us.
We have spoken with Paulo several times before and he’s an interesting man. He spent several years working on cruise ships as a waiter before returning home to his native Portugal. His exposure to American tourists and his frequent ports of call in Miami, helped him to learn to speak English. During his career, Paulo also learned a lot about wine and is especially proud of the wines produced here in Portugal. We realized we had something in common when I told Paulo that I used to write about wine, food and travel on my former and now-retired website, Southwest Wine Guide, and how I have always enjoyed a good bottle of Portuguese wine.
During the hour or so that Paul and I were at the café, Paulo would stop by our table, pour a little more wine in our glasses, and tell us about some of the must-see vineyards in Portugal. He also was happy to recommend some wines that we should try. Since part of our Portugal journey will be to visit the different wine regions of this country, and to taste a variety of wines, I was excited to learn about some of the best places to check out and the best bottles to taste.
As we were getting ready to pay our bill (that’s a conta in Portuguese), Paulo mentioned that if we came back the next day to the café, he would bring us a special bottle of Portuguese wine to try. We couldn’t resist that offer, so we were back the next morning for breakfast.
True to his word, Paulo came over to our table with a bottle wrapped in a plastic bag. We were grateful for his gift, and promised to let him know what we thought of the wine. When we got back to our condo, I opened the bag and found this Bafarela 17 Superior Vinho Tinto, vintage 2017.
Here’s what I discovered about this wine
Located in the Douro appellation, known for its fortified (Port) wines, the region also produces an equal amount of non-fortified table wines. The Brites Aguiar family – producers of this wine – reside in a small village called Várzea de Trevões in the county of S. João da Pesqueira. In addition to wine, the family business also includes the production of fine olive oil.
The family describes this wine as a “passion wine.” The grapes harvested to produce this wine are only picked when the fruit is at peak ripeness. The grape harvesting and the wine making is described as a telluric interpretation of the part of the Douro where during the ripening of the grapes, the heat is intense and there is a constant lack of water. Perhaps this is the reason there are 17 degrees of alcohol in this wine. Passion indeed!
Opening the bottle
We chilled the bottle slightly and decanted it for about 45 minutes.
Although there is a description about the wine on the back of the label in English, I prefer to not look at descriptions until after I have had an opportunity to observe the color in the glass, breathe in the aroma, and take the first few sips.
Pouring the wine in the glass, the color was deep garnet red. The aromas were rich and well-blended with hints of cocoa, spice, and earth. Swirling the liquid in the glass, you could see long, lingering legs along the sides.
Tasting the wine was a surprise as the smoothness and well-blended flavors belied the alcohol content. Tastes of stone fruits, herbs, dark chocolate bits, and spice along with a slight acidity and well-balanced tannins, tantalized the mouthfeel with a satiny long and satisfying finish.
Grapes used in the production of this wine
Tinta Barroca, Touriga Franca and Tinta Roriz
This wine begged to be served with beef! We paired it with fork-tender grilled tenderloin steaks from Portuguese beef, and grilled fresh asparagus.
There’s not a lot of information online about this wine producer, but I often find that many small wine makers do not have websites. So, when we travel to the Douro region to explore, perhaps we’ll just come across this winery or maybe we’ll find someone who knows if they are open for tastings. From what I was able to discern, however, is this wine is only produced when the growing conditions are perfect, and an alcohol level of 17 percent can be achieved.
If you were to find a bottle on the shelves of a wine shop, you should buy it. Expect to pay upwards of 40 EUR for one bottle. Expensive by Portuguese standards, but well worth it.
This was a great Portuguese wine tasting experience! I have sipped some nice Port wines, but rarely have I sipped such a smooth table wine with that much alcohol content! It was meant to be sipped slowly, in between tender bites of steak over a long, leisurely dinner overlooking the ocean and a full moon!
Thank you, Paulo for sharing a fantastic Portuguese red wine with us!
Until next time…