Tarcisio Costa is smiling, and for good reason. As wine director and co-owner of Alfama, a Portuguese restaurant in Manhattan, Costa has amassed one of the greatest — if not the greatest —collections of fine, upscale Portu-guese wines in this country. While much of the wine world surrenders to Cabernet and Chardonnay, Portugal has remained loyal to its native grapes. Most of its varieties are old, but everything else is new — wineries, techniques, technology and thus the wines. If you haven’t tasted Portugal’s red wies in a while, you will be more than impressed: You will be amazed, just as I was at a recent tasting of wines selected from Alfama’s 19-page wine list. Here’s what I discovered:
Quinta dos Carvalhais Tinta Roriz 1998 from the Dão is made 100 percent from one of Portugal’s top grapes. Its nose offers hints of cherry, other fruits and violets, while its flavors bring to mind delicate spice and currants.
Quinta da Cortezia Reserva 1999 from Estremadura blends Tinta Roriz and Touriga Nacional. With its dark color and an intense aroma that mingles chocolate and berries, it is a formidable, complex wine.
Frei João Reserva 1990 from Bairrada is also a blend — of Baga, Castelão Nacional, Moreto and Bastardo. Bairrada wines generally begin life hard and tannic and need time to evolve. This 14-year-old variety has reached the stage of mature suppleness and carries its age regally. A full-bodied wine, its flavors include soft leather, spices and a basketful of dark berries.
Quinta da Manuela 2000 is from the Douro, where the grapes for port are grown. Here, Tinta Roriz, Tinta Barroca and Touriga Nacional produce a fruity table wine with hints of clove and floral overtones. The same family has owned Manuela’s vineyards for 350 years; this is the first time it has made wine instead of selling all its grapes.
The Alentejo is flat, hot, arid, and yet it can produce a wine as spectacular as Quinta da Terrugem 1999, a blend of Tinta Roriz, Aragonês and Trincadeira Preta. It is full-bodied, robust, with a whiff of vanilla, fresh berries and lightly peppery flavors.
These are wines that make boon companions to Alfama’s foods. These are wines that make Portugal proud.
551 Hudson St., New York, NY 10014
tel 212 645 2500
Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group announced plans to take over an existing hotel in Switzerland. The property is undergoing extensive renovations in preparation to open at the end of next year as Mandarin Oriental Palace, Luzern. The property was previously Hotel Palace Luzern, on the shores of Lake Lucerne and in the heart of the city; it originally opened in 1906.
United Airlines’ environmentally friendly efforts lessen the impact on local U.S. communities.
As part of Germany’s climate package, a plan to reduce emissions, the country will raise departure taxes at German airports. Taxes will go up as much as 60 percent, and are expected to raise up to €740 million. The funds will then be used to lower VAT on rail fares from 19 percent to 7 percent.
Norwegian Cruise Line took delivery of its newest ship, Norwegian Encore, ahead of its naming ceremony Nov. 21. The 1,100-foot-long ship boasts a guest capacity of nearly 4,000. Since Norwegian Cruise Line took delivery of the shi, Oct. 30, Norwegian Encore sailed from Germany to England before making its way to New York City, then Miami, where the christening ceremony takes place next week.
Swiss-Belhotel International boasts an impressive portfolio throughout 22 countries, including 10 ASEAN member countries. This growth is continuing with the group’s new plans to debut four properties in Thailand.
One of Palm Desert, California’s, signature hotel properties recently finalized its biggest-ever redesign. The JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort and Spa is home to 884 guestrooms and nearly 250,000 square feet of event space. Every facet of the property has been redesigned ahead of the property’s grand re-opening in January.