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Home News > July 2019 > A few sips with Casa Ermelinda Freitas

Following their outstanding success in the Sommelier Wine Awards (SWA) 2019, winning the coveted European Producer of the Year award, we took a few sips with Portuguese producer, Casa Ermelinda Freitas.

Can you tell us about your winning wines from this year’s SWA competition?

The gold medal winners are wines with different profiles but all reflect south of Portugal and Setúbal Península terroir. Dona Ermelinda White 2018 is our flagship brand and our best-selling white. It’s a blend of 4 varieties: Fernão Pires, Arinto, Antão Vaz and Chardonnay. It has an intense fruity aroma with notes of honey and tropical fruit. It’s well rounded on the palate and balanced.

The Casa Ermelinda Freitas Merlot Reserva 2016 is a wine that has an extended maceration period followed by 12 months ageing in half barrels of French and American oak. It has aromas heavy in dark fruit including plum and blackberry, with a touch of ripe pepper, typical of Merlot. It is a full-bodied wine with soft tannins and an extremely pleasant and long finish.

The Vinha do Fava - Touriga Nacional 2017 is a wine that we sell a lot of in the UK. It’s a big juicy red that ages for 4 months in French (50%) and American (50%) oak. A concentrated, ruby/garnet-coloured wine, rich in good quality tannins. The aromas are reminiscent of very mature red fruits, jam, with a light, and floral touch typical of this grape variety. Very well matched with the wood for a hint of vanilla.

In the south of Portugal there are 2 kinds of Muscat grapes, the bigger berries are Moscatel de Setubal or Muscat of Alexandria and the smaller ones are the Moscatel Roxo, or Purple Muscat. The Moscatel Roxo de Setúbal Superior 2010 is made from the purple Muscat. We interrupt the fermentation by adding spirit at 77% distilled from wine, followed by an extended 6 month skin maceration to extract richness. We age it for 5 years in French oak barrels. A vivid amber-gold wine, with aromas reminiscent of nuts such as hazelnut and some spice. It is very harmonious with an excellent blend of sweet and freshness, giving it a rather complex and long-lasting finish.

What has happened following the win?

We were thrilled with the news and communicated the results on several Portuguese news channels and our client base around the world. We are getting coverage while customers are continuing to congratulate us.

Why did you enter this year’s competition?

We usually enter the Sommelier Wine Awards because it’s important to raise awareness with sommeliers and wine professionals, not only in the UK but worldwide.

Were you surprised to win European Producer of the Year?

We were a bit surprised but above all it is further recognition of the work that Casa Ermelinda Freitas has done over recent years. Just in 2019 we have won 158 awards with 9 great gold medals, 88 gold medals and 48 silver medals.

What’s next for the wine/ vineyard?

We have been one of the fastest growing producers in Portugal over the last 10 years and have climbed up the ranks to be amongst the top 10 wineries in the country. The long term vision is to continue to develop our brands, particularly internationally where there is a lot of room to grow in markets such as the UK, USA, China, Russia and Brazil.

Can you tell us a little bit about this year’s harvest? And the region itself?

Over the last 25 years this was the latest harvest we've had, and, curiously, 2017 was the earliest. This is clearly an indication of today's climate variation. In the south we always have a lot of sunshine, excellent maturations, and despite the differences in the dates of harvesting, the ripening in both harvests was excellent, with wines of very good potential.

2018 had a dry and cold winter which led to late blooming of the vines, spring and summer were relatively fresh (for what's usual) which led to a slower vegetative development. Then we had a thermal shock of 4 days at the beginning of August with temperatures above 46ºC. All together causing a delay in the development of the vines of about 3 weeks. Fortunately in September mild temperatures returned with no rainfall in the first 2 weeks of October, thus allowing us to harvest perfectly ripe and healthy grapes.