Wine Review: Quinta da Pellada Primus 2012

In the start of our journey towards being a reputable wine merchant, M and I made a product strategy. We would have wines in our selection that A. we liked to drink ourselves (who else would empty all the leftover stock) and B. would be affordable to a large group of people. Due to the high costs of logistics and taxes, we will never be a cheap shop, but we will offer wines from a reasonable (to our opinion) price range of 100-300 SEK a bottle. So Primus, though it was said to be excellent, was not on the initial list.

However, that was before we actually had the chance to enjoy a full bottle with some winecurious friends. The Primus is something unique and something that I would almost invest a small fortune in, and let me tell you why:

Alvaro Castro the winemaker at Quinta da Pellada has drawn a lot of his inspiration from Cardoso de Vilhena, who for a long time was the head enologist at the Centro de Estudos Vitivinícolas de Nelas (CEN) in the Dão region. Alvaro claims to have learned almost everything from him and the 1964 white wine from Vilhena is the finest wine Alvaro ever tasted. Primus is his attempt to copy that wine.

The wine is an old field blend from a wide range of grapes handpicked from 65 year old vines that have grown on granite soils. The wine has been slowly fermented in oak barrels for two months and then an additional 3 months in old oak barrels being stirred on the lees. Before it is relaesed it spends two years in the bottle.

The blend includes a variety of grapes among them, Cercial, Bical, Verdelho, Málvasia, Terrantez, Cachorrinho, Douradinha and many more. The main grape is, however, called  Encruzado, which is undoubtedly the finest white grape variety in Portugal. It is grown maily in the granite hills of Dao in the center of the country and makes rich, full-bodies wines with aromas of lemon, woody herbs and melon (mmm).

Primus white from Quite de Pellada
Primus white from Quite de Pellada
The Primus is a rich wine with notes of melon and floral overtones. The taste is slightly oxidized, but in a fresh way, and has hints of dried tropical fruit, like pineapple, pleasant citrus and nice acidity. The mouth feel is full and slightly waxy making Primus an excellent partner with white meats (we ate lightly marinated chicken). Especially M is often not a huge fan of white wines, but the Primus and Encruzado-wines in general are amongst his favorites. This is a wine that will age well up to five or ten years if one can just be patient enough not to drink it.

And coming to the price, we are talking about an average of 35-45€ depending on the year. The quality is a 4.5, but what is the value for money? The price is a bit over my limit for what I have been prepared to pay for white wines before. But what I can see happening is an epiphany. A striking realization that I have not dug in deep enough with white wines to state a roof price. This already happened with bubblies three years back, when I stepped over my 20€ limit and started sinking in to the world of champagnes (and premium cava). Perhaps it is time for me to take that step with white wines.

What do you say? What would be your limit for prices on white wine, and do you believe that a pearl like the Primus would be interesting to the wider public? In Sweden, the price would climb from the levels of Portugal and I doubt we would be able to sell it (if we actually want to make some profit) for less than 400 SEK a bottle. Would you buy six bottles if you would really like it? Help me out! No, help Primus out! And let me know if this wine should make it to the Winecurious selection.

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