Conceito Bastardo 2017
When I have tastings with sales reps I rarely jump up and down in excitement when the rep pulls a bottle of wine out of his bag. But this occasion was different. “You’ve got the Bastardo!” I cried. Something similar happened when I was recently in Porto and I walked into a wine bar, shouted “Bastardo!” and made sure we bought a bottle so all my colleagues on the trip could taste it.
There’s little more exciting than shouting “Bastardo!” across a room, and a lot of the satisfaction in drinking this wine comes from doing just that. It also has a killer, instantly recognisable label: you’re pretty much sold before even tasting the wine.
On top of that, there’s quite a bit of mystery surrounding Bastardo. DNA testing has proven that it’s the same variety as Trousseau, grown in Jura, but no one has any idea how it got to Portugal. It’s not just the distance between eastern France and Portugal that makes the connection hard to decipher: the two climates are also completely different - the variety should work in one but not both places.
That perhaps explains why it’s not that widely grown in Portugal or Madeira, where it’s also planted. Its pale colour doesn’t help either, in a country where the deep red of port is prized. Despite the different climates, the styles of wine from both Jura and the Douro are similar: pale coloured, light bodied, aromas of red fruits, wild flowers, and sweet spices, and overall like a low-key, subtly intense Pinot Noir.
The sales rep was surprised by my excitement because this is the first time he’s independently imported a producer into California and he wasn’t expecting anyone to recognise a wine that’s available in very limited qualities in the state for the first time. But back in the UK, the first wine shop I worked for used to sell this wine and, I can tell you, there’s nothing more satisfying than urging a customer to drink some Bastardo.
The producer Rita Ferreira is certainly a maverick to watch out for - she also makes a delicious sparkling Grüner Veltliner from high-altitude vines planted in the Douro, a great way to celebrate the unexpected.
Grape Variety: 100% Bastardo (Trousseau)
Region: Douro, Portugal
Ageing: old oak for 10 months
Food pairing: chicken; rabbit; lamb