Innovation in Portuguese wines is driven by strong women. Dona Antonia Ferreira started the Port industry and today Sarah Ahmed is the most powerful pundit in town, as she chairs the Portuguese department at the Decanter World Wine Awards, probably the most potent laundry list around. Now Julia Harding, offsider to Jancis Robinson, weighs in with her Top 50 Luso Lovelies. As the Drinks Business reports it “Julie (sic) Harding MW dedicated her 50 Great Portuguese Wine selection to Portugal’s indigenous grapes, warning that the pursuit of international varieties would represent ‘a downhill slope’ for the country.” Pity they got her name wrong!
But names aside and the presence of only four fortified wines in the fifty, Julie/Julia has a potent message for SA. When she said “Baga can make some great wines.” I immediately thought of Pinotage, a varietal as unloved as Baga. The Pinotage Association needs to import a lady from the UK to warn SA wine of the perils of copying international styles like Bordeaux blends and Kiwi Sauvignon Blanc.
But how ironic for Julie/Julia that your message is all things indigenous, except when it comes to wine writing. A common occurrence as Julie/Julia’s countryperson Charles Metcalfe was sent to Brazil by ViniPortugal to promote Portuguese wines in a Portuguese speaking country. Portuguese wine writers should be excused for plotzing.