The founder of continental Europe’s most western vineyard, Casal Sta. Maria — Baron Bodo von Bruemmer — was not only a bon vivant, he was a long vivant. Told in his 50s and again in his mid 90s that he was on borrowed time with cancer, this successful banker and racing horse expert decided to fulfill his dream of making wine in a beautiful place: Portugal. There must be something to seizing life by the horns: he lived to the age of 105! I was happy to be hosted to experience it.
Colares, Portugal has an interesting micro-climate — being on a bluff in the far western part of the country, near the Atlantic Ocean — contributing to crisp wines. Did you think Portugal only put out Port?
Bruma – a white mix of Arinto and Chardonnay — has salty notes with minerality. There are also notes of white flowers and wet stone, green apples, lime, oyster shell, with low alcohol (12%). It’s easy drinking; pair it with seafood or Manchego cheese.
They say this:
Color: Green with bright straw reflections.
Aroma: Very mineral wine, green apple apricots all very contained. Oyster shells combined with citric flavors. Overall is a very delicate wine.
Palate: Oily texture full of concentration refreshing acidity. Fruity taste integrated with smoked rocky and ocean flavors. Very long and dry with salty finish.
Malvasia – is made with an indigenous grape. This fully oaked in French oak has more body. You can taste some acidity, low sugar, elegant lemon and lime notes. Serve it with oysters, clams, shrimp with garlic. They say this:
Color: Very bright green with golden reflections.
Aroma: Delicate aromatic flowers typical of the variety, anis and tangerine flavors, fresh and vibrant a good expression of the wild and difficult terroir where it grows.
Palate: Immediate sensation of freshness and acidity, notes of orange and tangerine compote, long finish and the characteristic feeling of salt typical from the region of Colares.
Sauvignon Blanc – is not aged in any barrels. It has a typical nose of green pepper, asparagus, pineapple, tropical fruit. Serve it with sushi and salad. They say this:
Color: Very bright green.
Aroma: Young very aromatic and intense with lime green melon asparagus and white pepper.
Palate: Oily texture, refreshing acidity good length green flavor typical from the variety and from our terroir, textured and crispy acidity supporting the wine.
Chardonnay – Is aged in some used oak. It has a strong baked goods nose: sugar and spice. The flavor is rounded, with smooth body. Serve it with mackerel.
Mar de Rosas – Is a very upscale rose’. It’s composed of local varieties, along with pinot noir and syrah. It won “Best Rose’ in Portugal”! It’s dry, with many gastronomical pairings. Try it with fish, seafood, pasta, risotto and mushrooms.
Pinot Noir – It’s light in color for the variety. It has a nose of leather and smoky wood. Pair it with meat, duck, mushrooms, lamb, fat salmon, salted codfish, not a strong cheese, but a creamy cheese — like Estrella. They say this about it:
Color: Black cherry.
Aroma: Rich nose, with notes of blackberries, strawberries and blackcurrants. Complex bouquet with leather, spices, black truffles and a hint of vanilla.
Palate: Finesse and freshness first impression, with flavors of cherries and blackcurrants, soft tannins, compact and long finish.
Bruma Red – Has local varieties and Merlot. There’s lots of tannin and snap. It’s dry, with notes of earth, pepper, cherry and red currant. There’s not a lot of nose, but bits of leather, flowers and smoke. They say this about it:
Color: Deep ruby.
Aroma: Hints of spices, balsamic, resin and cedar, good aromatic intensity balanced with great complexity.
Palate: Soft tannins and fresh acidity, creating on the palate a sensation of round structure and elegance finish.
Going on a tour of the winery or enjoying a tasting, involves all the senses. It’s in the middle of a national park, so it will always keep its beauty. The estate on site, dating from 1720, survived the devastating earthquake of 1755. When the Baron purchased the land, the house was in ruins and with all of the overgrowth, he did not discover the charming Baroque gazebo in the rear for years. It’s said that it was a popular place for rendezvous back in the day.