Review: Wines of Casa Ferreirinha, 2023 Releases

No matter if it’s a spirit, beer, or wine, a well-done history lesson whenever a company decides to christen a product in tribute is always appreciated. I’m not speaking of the person who starts a company because they found their great-great-grandfather’s best friend’s secret recipe stored away in a scrapbook in a family attic, found a venture capitalist to fund it, and tries to pass it off as some tradition reignited. I’m talking about paying homage with an appropriately measured appreciation to history and place, very much in line with what Portugal’s Casa Ferreirinha is attempting to do with its Callabriga (Pronounced “kah-lah-bree-gah”) line of red wines. Named in tribute to the Roman fortified settlements in the formerly remote regions of Portugal’s Douro Valley, these wines aim to honor the Romans and their dedication to planting vines and making wine in the toughest of terrains. Let’s find out if they live up to their name.

2017 Casa Ferreirinha Callabriga Douro – A blend of 55% Touriga Franca, 30% Touriga Nacional, and 15% Tinta Roriz present a complex aroma of black cherries, nutmeg, clove, and dark chocolate. The palate brings forth notes of rich blackberry and tobacco leaf but keeps them in harmony with the spice and fruit aromas. With firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a long, elegant finish, there’s a lot of character and complexity from start to finish, and it never ceases to keep one’s attention.

2019 Casa Ferreirinha Callabriga Douro – The numbers change here from 2017, with this vintage consisting of 43% Touriga Franca, 32% Touriga Nacional, and 25% Tinta Roriz. The contrast here is noticeable, with a greater emphasis on notes of red fruit over spice, but there’s still a touch of chocolate on the nose for good measure. The palate presents a prominent and unexpected note of menthol cutting through, but notes of cherry and blackberry eventually tone things down and carry matters through to a pleasant, lengthy finish. Complex, it’s one for those who like twists and turns in their glass.

2018 Casa Ferreirinha Vinha Grande – A slight variation on the Callabriga, constructed of 45% Touriga Franca, 30% Touriga Nacional, 20% Tinta Roriz, and 5% Tinta Barroca. Very rich, with spice and cocoa powder amplified just a notch over the dark fruit when compared to the Callabriga. Things settle down a bit with some time, and the red fruit comes to the fore. Heavy tannins and acidity give this wine an edge that is unique, but never off-putting. Putting this to rest for a year might not be the worst idea.

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