I featured one wine from Herdade do Rocim as my wine of the week yesterday, this being the Vale da Mata Reserva 2008. Although that wine was undoubtedly my favourite from all the Herdade do Rocim and Vale da Mata samples I have tasted recently, the others are certainly worthy of a mention.
First, a little background on Herdade do Rocim; if you take the Rocim literature at face value the driving force behind the estate seems to be Caterina Vieira, and this impressive project was all inspired by her grandfather, a onetime vigneron who relinquished his vines many years ago. While Caterina studied winemaking, an impressive and no doubt expensive winery of very modern design sprang up in Alentejo. With my more sceptical hat on, what we see at Herdade do Rocim today – including not only the ultra-modern winery but also the meeting rooms, restaurant, shop and wine bar (they’re just missing the health spa I think) – is the result of massive investment from owners Terralis Lda, an agricultural machinery specialist that purchased the estate in 2000.
Most of the wines are from Alentejo, although there are also vines to the west in Lisboa, where (back now to the dreamy literature, infused with black-and-white images of vines and handsome young pickers, oak barrels and wizened old vignerons – so much nice than pictures of tractors and muck-spreaders) her grandfather once made wine. The varieties featured include locals such as Antão Vaz, Aragonez, Trincadeira and the better-known Touriga Nacional as well as the rather more international Syrah.
The labelling, I have to say, I find a little confusing, but here’s my take on it. The Rocim range (in white and red) appears to give us the entry-level wines, described as ‘youthful and fruity’. There is also a straight Herdade do Rocim bottling (in red). Then there are the Olho de Mocho wines (red, white, rosé), which seem to be made from selected parcels each vintage, and so should be a step up from the Rocim/Herdade do Rocim wines. Finally, top of the tree is the Grande Rocim, the flagship wine which features Alicante Bouschet. The aforementioned Vale da Mata wines are a separate line, made from fruit grown in Lisboa to the west.
First up, two white wines.
Herdade do Rocim ‘Rocim’ Branco (Alentejano) 2010: A blend of Antão Vaz, Arinto and Roupeira. Fresh, lean, lightly chalky fruit character on the nose, with a touch of citrus zest. Also a little white-peach stone. Light, with slightly pithy fruit in the middle of the wine, showing decent freshenss, nice acidity, and appropriate substance. Clean, lightly steely fruit. Gently attractive. Alcohol 13%. 14/20 (May 2012)
Herdade do Rocim Olho de Mocho Branco Reserva (Alentejano) 2010: This is 100% Antão Vaz. A pale straw coloured hue with a faint hint of green. The nose is dominated by oaky characteristics, as evinced by notes of fennel, with citrus fruit tones underneath. An attractive palate if you are oak tolerant, because the flavours certainly speak of the wood to a large extent, as do the light grip of oaky tannins in the finish. Bright structure underneath, with freshness and nutty tones. Nice acidity, with a bitter, pithy edge to the fruit. Long, grippy, slightly sour finish. Alcohol 13%. 14.5/20 (May 2012)
One rosé wine.
Herdade do Rocim Olho de Mocho Rosé (Alentejano) 2010: A blend of Touriga Nacional, Syrah and Aragonez, this wine has the deep, richly coloured pink hue that many Iberian and southern European rosés seem to possess. The fruit character on the nose is simple, with plump strawberries to the fore. The palate has the same character, rather solid, with a foursquare style and bold flavour. For uncomplicated drinking. Alcohol 13.5%. 13.5/20 (May 2012)
And finally a selection of Herdade do Rocim reds.
Herdade do Rocim ‘Rocim’ Tinto (Alentejano) 2008: This is a blend of Aragonez, Trincadeira, Alicante Bouschet and Touriga Nacional. It has a bright cherry red, with a pale intensity and a pink rim. Soft and rather reserved, slightly dusty fruit character on the nose, with a touch of violet perfume. The palate has more expressive fruit thought, the restrained texture sitting behind some baked raspberry fruit cut through with overt notes of black liquorice. There are elements of smoke to it, but is that dark, liquorice vein that really dominates here, along with little related nuances of coffee bean. Some very soft grip to it, but attractive acidity, but the overall feel is of a soft, easy-going wine. Those aromatics are certainly interesting though. Alcohol 14%. 14/20 (May 2012)
Herdade do Rocim Tinto (Alentejano) 2009: This is Syrah, Touriga Nacional, Aragonez, Trincadeira and Alicante Bouschet. Just a little more vibrant than the 2008 Rocim, but a similar cherry-red hue. Again very reserved on the nose, with a chalky suggestion to the fruit, a lightly floral character too, but otherwise not really very expressive. A very soft and fruit-rich start to the palate, with light pepper through the midpalate. A fairly soft, plump but certainly well filled-out texture here, with a little seam of soft tannins which remain very low key, and perhaps a slightly gentle acid profile. An attractive wine, a sweeter, richer fruit profile than the 2008 Rocim too. More supple and full, with some grip. Alcohol 14%. 14.5/20 (May 2012)
Herdade do Rocim Olho de Mocho Tinto Reserva (Alentejano) 2009: Three varieties here, Syrah, Touriga Nacional and Alicante Bouschet. Deeply coloured, with a bright hue at the rim but a dark core. Aromatically this is showing a lot of oak lactones on the nose at present, and lots of peripheral oak related notes, with coconut and caramelised sugars too. The fruit certainly takes a back seat at present. A really attractive texture here from the outset, and this is maintaining a very broad and flattering character though the middle of the wine. Thankfully the oak flavours come through less on the palate, although there is certainly an oaky grip coming in at the end. Nice sweet fruit to it here as well though, and I suspect this will come through more in time. Attractive wine, certainly modern and polished in style, but one that needs to spend a couple of years in the cellar for everything to come together here I think. Alcohol 14%. 15.5/20 (May 2012)
Vale da Mata Tinto (Lisboa) 2008: A blend of Aragonez, Syrah and Touriga Nacional. A fairly dusty red core here, with even a faint tinge of oxblood to it. The fruit character on the nose is certainly less expressive than the Reserva (see my note on the Vale da Mata Reserva 2008), although there are bright floral tinges apparent at times, as well as more gamey and autumnal notes, plus tinges of mint and tobacco. A moderate texture immediately apparent, runing into a slightly leaner and drier palate that expected, with some robust structure underneath it. A rather firmer underpinning than I expected considering the substance of the wine I think. And in the finish, little tinges of caramelised fruit, giving a lightly toffee-like edge to it all. Reflecting the climate, or the toast on the oak, I wonder? Alcohol 14%. 15/20 (May 2012)