Meandro do Vale Mećo Douro 2005
This deep purple, almost opaque wine is produced from grapes grown at Quinta do Vale
Mećo on Portugal's River Douro. The river is famous, of course, as the source of grapes for
Port wines. Indeed, most of the grapes found in the wine could themselves contribute to a
Port in other circumstances: Tinta Roriz (50%) Touriga Nacional (25%), Touriga Franca
(25%), Tinta Barroca (5%) and Amarela (5%). The Quinta itself, one of the easternmost on
the Douro, has a long Port history stretching back to the 1870s but has more recently made a
name for its still Douro reds. The term Meandro refers to a meandering bend in the river
on which the Quinta is situated. The Portuguese appellation of the wine is Douro DOC.
On the nose the $23 wine emits spice with deep floral and fruit. These notes are well-melded: fruitcake, potpourri, rose essence, black cherry, black plum, and smoky oak. On the palate the wine is bone dry, with blueberry, blackberry, kirsch, violet, nutmeg, clove, chocolate mint and a good deal of floral spice. To say the wine has personality would be somehow to demote a wine that fits no preexisting mold.
Mouthfeel in this full-bodied wine plays a major role in the experience. I love the tannins. Let's call them unapologetic, chewy and medium-grained. As these tannins dry the mouth, the acidity stimulates and puckers. The wine brings plenty of alcohol: 14% officially but I suspect that is a product of rounding down. The finish, though not particularly long, is sensible and direct, with black fruit, dark chocolate, the tannins and the acidity. The wine is as dry on the finish as it is on the start.
Most dry reds from the Douro demand commitment from drinkers, say, arranging for a side of beef to roast on a spit out in the backyard (or in the front yard so the neighbors will complain again). If pressed I would have to call this a masculine wine, but this does not concomitantly mean it is a wine strictly for men; I could imagine a woman (and I am imagining a certain particular woman here) throwing an inhibition or two to the wind after accepting a purposefully-poured glass of this.
I have often written that a certain wine or other could age, which actually means a
theoretical aging; in real life we will drink them now of course and move on to the next
wine. This wine, for all its present bravado, really should benefit from patient bottle-aging.
The energetic youth could undergo a metamorphosis and surprise us with his worldliness, his
manners, his grace and finesse. Given this level of quality it is difficult to believe that this
Meandro is Quinta do Vale Mećo's second wine.
Exploring the Douro brings us a lot more than Port.
James Beard Award Nominee Elliot Essman