Wine Bar Do Castelo
R. Bartolomeu de Gusmão 11/13,
I am the first to admit that every since my first wine bar experience at Willi’s Wine Bar in Paris, my fascination with wine bars has been forever altered for the better. Years back in New York City there was this awesome wine bar down on Spring Street that offered wines by the glass and a placemat to take notes on, complete with crayons. Long gone now, it was a favorite of mine and some dear friends who loved to tip a glass or two.
Visiting Wine Bar Do Castelo brings back the memories of that NYC wine bar and of course gives me the kind of experience one has at Willi’s, Juveniles and Fish in Paris, or Vinoteca in London, where the people who work their are so deeply passionate about wine, that the time flies by even if you’re there for hours.
The selection is awesome and the service by Rui Costa and his co-horts second to none. What makes the experience so wonderful is the approach they have to wine discovery. First the offer you tastes of wines, usually two or three of a kind, and then you decide which wine you want to have by the glass.
The most recent trip was memorable because of the new wines I discovered there, or some old friends I got to try that I had only had in previous visits to Portugal.
2014 Soalheiro Primeiras Vinhas Alvarinho
I’m a big fan of this producer from the Moncao e Melgaco region. This wine is extremely aromatic and sensual, with a lovely lemon zest bouquet and a racy finish. Its crisp and dry, with a long lingering finish.
2012 II Terroir Vinho Branco Velho Mundo XII by Laura Regueiro and Quinta do Regueiro
Another Alvarinho wine with that mango, citrus and lemonade flavor profile. The crisp acidity and the slightly richer palate feel makes this my new favorite Alvarinho. Perfect on a summer day, it also has the kind of richness to stand up to hard cheeses.
On a prior visit I went through three other “white” wines or Brancos as they are referred to in Portugal.
2014 Dona Paterna Alvarinho Moncao e Melgaco
2013 Reguerio Quinta do Reguerio Alvarinho Moncao e Melgaco
2012 Casa do Capitao-Mor Alvarinho Moncao e Melgaco
Of the three, the Reguerio Alvarinho was my favorite, in a race that pretty much came down to it and the Casa do Capitao. In my view the bouquet of the Capitao was more developed and complex but the total package of the Reguerio made it the winner. A rich citrus aroma, with passion fruit and tropical flavors mixed together, the wine was both a refreshing and mouth filling wine with a very lingering finish.
What makes a wine bar experience memorable are the people and the wines. Wine bar people have to have personality, and Rui sure does. He brings his passion and love for wine to each and every glass he serves up.
A very memorable red wine was the 2013 Nierpoort Bastardo Vinho Tinto of which only 971 bottles were made, harking back memories of the early days of the Ridge ATP program where those on the ATP (advanced tasting program) got to see what may come next, or not, from Paul Draper and his crew there. Here’s a wine that you would think was Pinot Noir in color, but certainly not in palate weight or taste. It’s a delight to drink, and cherish. Made in a style similar to the Jura wines of France where the “bastardo” grape is known as Trousseau, this is a fast maturing grape that is often blended into other Douro wines. But as a standalone it excels, much like a good Cinsault can in the South of France.
A second red wine that was game changing in my book was the 2009 Margarida Vinho Tinto from the Alentejano region. Made from 96 percent Syrah and four percent Viognier, the wine has that Northern Rhone, Cote-Rotie, like aroma but due to the hotter climate of the South of Portugal, and an even longer sun cycle, it’s got a much richer and chewier style. Lots of blueberries, bacon fat and stewed cherries.
Wine Bar do Castelo is an experience. And, for lovers of wine, it’s a great place for the discovery of the wines of all Portugal.