Quinta da Fonte Souto Alicante Bouschet 2018

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In the 1970s, Portugese rosés such as Lancers and Mateus were the height of sophistication to many young wine drinkers: “It’s imported, and comes in a fun bottle!” With age comes wisdom, and these wines were eventually abandoned for the justifiably famous fortified wines of Portugal, Port and Madeira, produced by many ancient and famous houses.

Much less well-known is Portugal’s status as a producer of both red and white table wine, ranking in the world’s top ten in production.  With a population of just 10 million, but top five in per capita consumption, much of that wine is sipped by the thirsty Portuguese.

Quinta da Fonte Souto is a producer in Portalegre, a sub-region of the Alto Alentejo in southern Portugal.  It is owned by the Symington family, well-known for their premium Port wines, who acquired the winery in 2017.

Quinta is Portuguese for estate. Fonte translates as “source,” denoting the springs that provide an abundance of fresh water to the vineyard. Souto, or “chestnut grove,” recalls the considerable area of chestnut trees and cork oaks that cover the estate.  There are 511 acres on the property, of which 106 are planted with vines.  Fonte Souto is the Symington’s first property outside the Douro region, and includes a tasting room and a traditional manor house.

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Glee Euphoria Blanc de Noir California Sparkling Wine

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For reasons I don’t understand, the producer of this sparkling wine, Sapphire Hill, decided to hide behind the Glee moniker.  There is nothing on the bottle to link Glee and Sapphire Hill, but it was easy enough to locate them.

Sapphire Hill Winery, a family-run boutique winery, has been operating in Sonoma County since 1989. It is located on the original homestead of Lucy and Levi Grove who acquired 120 acres in 1869 from Captain John Cooper, a sea captain, merchant, and cattle rancher who originally hailed from New England. He was granted the El Molino Ranchero by General Vallejo, his father in law, who founded Sonoma and is remembered today as a great American who contributed a great deal to California both before and after statehood. His life is essentially the history of 19th century Sonoma and his influence is still evident in 21st century Sonoma.

The only remaining original structure on the property is the homestead chimney made from rocks taken from the Russian River.

Initially, Sapphire Hill began as a 38-acre vineyard located just outside of Sebastopol.  Original winery partners Tim Meinken (winemaker), Anne Giere, John Hall. and Denice Engstrom planted Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and later Syrah. At first, the grapes were sold to Rodney Strong, Sonoma-Cutrer, La Crema, and Murphy Good Estate Winery. The partners launched their own label in 1997 using estate-grown grapes, and in 2002 built the actual winery and opened a tasting room in Healdsburg, a charming town situated at the convergence of three renowned grape-growing regions: Alexander Valley, Dry Creek Valley, and the Russian River Valley. This strategic location allowed the winery to procure grapes from these esteemed valleys and establish a reputation for crafting award-winning Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Zinfandel.

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