January 2012, Pedro Garcias in Publico 

“The Portuguese wines shone in the last exam by the Wine Advocate, the publication of the American Robert Parker, the most influential wine critic of the world. The highlight goes to the reds Quinta do Zambujeiro 2007, Quinta do Vale Dona Maria 2009 and Quinta do Mouro Rótulo Dourado 2007, classified with 96 points. A note that puts it in the wine world elite.

National wines are rising with the help of Mark Squires, the taster for Portugal’s Wine Advocate website, of the influential and feared American critic Robert Parker.

In its latest report, published on 23 December, Squires awarded 96 Portuguese wines: 100 red wines from Quinta do Zambujeiro 2007 (Alentejo), Quinta do Vale Dona Maria 2009 (Douro) and Quinta do Mouro Rótulo Dourado 2007 (Alentejo). So far, only one Portuguese wine, Quinta do Crasto Vinha Maria Teresa 2003 (Douro), had obtained 96 points, the highest ranking ever attributed by Parker and its tasters to non-fortified Portuguese wines.

Among Parker’s tasters, Mark Squires is one of the least generous when it comes to giving grades, so the result of his last exam gains a special relevance and is very positive for the international image of Portuguese wines.

About a hundred wines have scored 90 or more points – and a score of over 90 points on the Wine Advocate is already commendable. Besides the three wines with 96 points, there are four more with 95 points (Quinta do Mouro Rótulo Dourado Tinto 2005, Álvaro de Castro Carrocel Tinto 2008, Álvaro de Castro Quinta da Pellada Tinto 2008 and Casa Ermelinda de Freitas Moscatel de Setúbal Superior 2000) ; one with 94-96 points (Quinta do Zambujeiro Tinto 2009); five with 94 points (Quinta do Vale Meão Tinto 2009, Álvaro de Castro Quinta da Pellada Primus Branco 2009, Quinta do Mouro Tinto 2007, Quinta do Vale D. Maria Tinto 2005 and Poeira Tinto 2009 (Douro), 11 with 93 points of the Ameal Special Harvest 2010, Quinta do Crasto Vinhas Velhas Tinto 2009, Casa de Casal de Loivos Red 2009, Adega da Cartuxa Pêra-Manca Red 2007, Herdade da Malhadinha Nova Tinto 2009, Quinta de La Rosa Reserva Tinto 2009, Pintas Tinto 2009, Squires also awarded 92 points (Duorum Reserva Old Wines Tinto 2009 and Quinta do Zambujeiro Tinto 2008) and two with 92-94 points (Duorum Reserva Old Wines Tinto 2009 and Quinta do Zambujeiro Tinto 2008). to 12 wines and 91 points to 15 wines.

Wine Advocate had never given such good ratings to such a vast array of Portuguese wines. And the highlight is undoubtedly for four producers: Quinta do Vale D. Maria (Douro), Álvaro de Castro (Dão), Miguel Louro (Quinta do Mouro, Alentejo) and Quinta do Zambujeiro (Alentejo).

The 2009 harvest in Portugal, which originated more alcoholic and full-bodied wines, deserves, moreover, great praise from the taster of Robert Parker, which puts it at the same level as in 2007, generically considered one of the best, if not the best , of the past decade. Squires – which seems to share with Parker the taste for concentrated wines – highlights the fact that in 2009 there are good wines in the various price segments, especially in the Douro, the region that, it says, shows a higher consistency of harvest for harvest.

But he stresses that we must wait to see if the 2009 wines will become something even more special over the years, as is happening with some 2007 Alentejo wines…”