The wine that brought us to Menina d’uva was Palomba. I first had it in a well-known restaurant in Braga with a reputable list, called Delicatum. The following day after some research I introduced myself in what has become the _new_ traditional way, on Facebook, of course, and the rest is history. What drew me to this wine was its complete gulpability that didn’t take away from its seriousness. Plus, I’d not tasted a wine like this from Portugal; but then again, I am a mere enfant at this stage of understanding the broad depth and diversity of Portuguese wines. Palomba has a deep color, but a bright freshness and tastes redder and more sweetly floral in tone than it looks. This is the kind of energizing surprise I like in a wine.
Palomba is made of 90% Negreda, also known as Mouratón in Spain. The vine is known to produce big, juicy, dark-colored berries but with surprisingly very little tannin. It’s mixed with other reds few outside of Portugal have heard of, like Uva de Rei, Moscatel Preta, Moscatel Roxo, among others. It comes from five different plots located in the villages of Uva, Mora and Vale de Algoso, and is grown on a mixture of schist and quartz scattered about on the surface of the vineyards. However, a walk through many of the plots revealed stone walls made with gneiss, slate, and schist—a clear indicator that in this area it’s not so simple to precisely say what the bedrock is underfoot even in small parcels. What’s interesting about this is that you can feel these things in the wine, despite the claim from some scientists that this is impossible. The pressure points within Aline’s wines are deep and fully mouth filling while remaining ethereal and tense. I tasted this wine out of barrel a few times and its texture was as profound and as deep as any unfinished wine I’ve tasted.
In the cellar, Palomba was about one-third destemmed by hand, and the fermentation lasted for two weeks and gently extracted throughout by foot. Negreda has a tendency for taking on reductive characteristics and needs more time in the bottle before digging in. Aline’s wine, _Ciste_, by contrast, is off to the races very quickly. Both wines mirror their maker and are filled with generosity, joy, calm, energy, and wit.