Medieval de Ourém is an almost unique wine style, dating back to a 12th century Cistercian monastery, that was nearly killed off by EU wine law (which typically doesn’t allow quality wines to be a blend of red and white grapes). Red (20%) and white grapes (80%) ferment separately in open barrels, then the part-fermented red grapes are thrown in on top of the white ferment to finish fermentation.
André Gomes Pereira (Quinta do Montalto) belives passionately that this style needs to be preserved, and made it a cause celebré for almost a decade. Finally it gained approval in 2005, as part of a new DOC Encostas d’Aire.
The nose has raspberry, loganberry (almost foxy), but then the big surprise is the palate – it feels very much like a red wine, not the 80% white blend that it actually is: there are crushed berries and tannins, and it’s pretty grippy.
This vintage is super young, and right now feels a little less than stable. I’d like to taste it again in 6-12 months. It’s a fascinating style though – nothing like the lighter, more easygoing palhete or “clairet” styles that one sees more commonly in Portugal and Spain.