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Domaines Barons de Rothschild Raise the Bar
For Local Wines of Portugal

By Simone Zarmati Diament

Once only known for its Port Wine and vinho verde , Portugal's wines now compete with those of the Iberian peninsula. Since it joined the EU in 1986, Portugal has benefited from the investment that has enabled everyone from small single quintas to large co-operatives to improve quality.

New technology, like stainless steel tanks, combined with a change in winemaking philosophy, has resulted in wines that offer remarkable value for money, that are cleaner, less tannic, and much more fruit-driven.

Quinta do Carmo was purchased in 1992, by the Domains Barons de Rothschild (Lafite).

Almost 200 kilometers east of Lisbon and less than 40 kilometers from Spain, Quinta do Carmo, a vast estate with vines, olive groves and chestnut trees in the heart of the Iberian Peninsula is situated on clay-limestone and predominantly clay-slate soil, in the historic region of Alentejo, which still bears evidence of the distant remnants of Roman and subsequent influence.

At the end of the 17th century, Don Joao IV built a baroque-style mansion with a chapel dedicated to Notre Dame do Carmo, so that his court could find calm and tranquility near the royal town of Estremoz.

Nothing remains, though, of the royal property or life at court, except perhaps the exquisite legacy of Casa do Carmo and la Quinta, built around Herdade das Carvalhas, which is now run by Domaine de Rothschild Lafitte.

2001 Quinta do Carmo Alentejo Portugal ($21.99)
(40% Aragonez (Tempranillo), Cabernet Sauvignon/Syrah 25%, Alicante Bouchet 20% & Trincadeira 15%). The harvest generally starts at the end of August with manual picking and quick transport to the cellar. Maceration occurs at about 2 and 3 weeks

and vinification is by only one vine variety until the blending. After maturation (12 months) in French oak barrels, the majority of which comes directly from the cooperage of Château Lafite, the bottling is done entirely at Quinta do Carmo.

Tasting Notes: Ripe and full-bodied, with a powerful nose of black fruit and dark chocolate. The creamy textured, dark red wine is lush and rich, with plenty of mocha, raspberry and cocoa flavors, with gentle tannins and an elegant acidity, a complex finish of smoke and fruit.

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