Celebrating Portugal @ TUGA
What a treat we were in for at TUGA! We were invited for a Wine pairing dinner featuring 3 estates in Alentejo. The session we attended was hosted by the burliest wine maker we’ve ever met ;) All jokes aside, Victor Conceicao is the genius behind - GENIUS LOCUS (get it?), Herdade Da Calcada as well as his baby Dona Dorinda.
We were lucky enough to savor the authenticity of what Alentejo’s cuisine has to offer. Specially curated by Chef Andre Magalhaes & Luis Barradas.
We kick-started the night with GENIUS LOCUS WHITE 2018. An interpretation of the purest of terroir of DOC Alentejo by long time friends David (Director of TUGA) and Victor Conceicao. A blend of Alvarinho, Fernao-Pires, Verdelho & Arinto.
2016 was their first vintage launched commercially with only 1200 bottles produced. Aromatics of this blend with texture lifted by Fernao-Pires paired immaculately with Chef Andre’s Grilled Cod and Orange salad, with a base of spearmint vinaigrette. A wine of elegance. The textural oils from the grilled cod matched up to the texture of the wine perfectly.
A white I was really looking forward to after a chat with Victor earlier in the day was the second white of the night. Victor practises organically at his vineyards and mentioned he only produces about 600 bottles for now to redirect some focus onto the syrah. Due to the requirements of Viognier’s vines, they are only planted at the foot of a 10m hill compared to the Syrah that is planted all around the other parts of the hill.
If there is one thing to note about Portuguese whites, they are typically quite aromatic, and this Viognier was no exception. On the nose were elegant aromas of white flowers blossoming in the glass. Stone fruit, more notably melon. Of course the Chefs created the perfect pairing with a refreshing Melon Gazpacho, Mussel Tempura cooked to perfection. According to Chef Luis, Tempura was actually introduced by Portuguese in Nagasaki through the fritter-cooking techniques in the 16th century! Who knew!
Kickstarting first of the 3 reds was the GENIUS LOCUS RED 2016. A blend of Alicante Bouchet, Tinta Caiada, Alfrocheiro & Touriga Franca. Ripe fruit and graphite on the nose. Full bodied but gentle on the palate with ripe tannins. This is a wine we forsee will start to excel in about 5 years with the potential to be aged for much longer. Chef’s choice of pairing for this is a pig ear terrine with a collaboration of salted egg sauce. The wine was a juicy, fresh balance with the fatty terrine and the slight umami of the salted egg.
Continuing our trail along Alentejo, we were double fisting in this course! The other grape Victor was focusing on for Dona Dorinda was his Syrah - which took up majority of his plantings in the estate. As well as representing Herdade da Calada was a 100% Touriga Franca.
Victor explained why Touriga Franca was never considered as a single varietal wine because its so hard to raise em well (Typically a grape used to make port). Talk about temperamental! We were lucky enough to have a taste of the 2016 rendition. A little bit of wet earth followed by juicy pomegranate on the nose.
Not forgetting the 2017 Syrah Reserva from the Dona Dorinda estate. Plummy black fruits, bold and burly with a touch of class and grace. We love the complexity of this wine, extreme finesse and one we hope you’ll see on our shelves soon. A hint of Austrian oak lingers at the finish. A wine we’ll further anticipate opening in the next 5-10 years.
Both wines pairs well with the baked pork rib, marinated with a right amount of spice to match the slight funk of Touriga franc. With a “MIGAS” on the side - extremely similar to a slab of carrot cake, savoury, mashed and pan fried with a filling of chopped green asparagus for texture. The pairing with Touriga Franc was my preferred choice of pairing for sure, the balance of the acidity, savoury-ness and umami combo with the ‘Migas’ were all in perfect balance - although the Syrah is a wine i’d be bringing to BBQ parties.
To wrap up the night, we had - now one of my top 3 desserts of 2022. A “Sericaia”, a traditional baked egg pudding with cinnamon pairing with a 2018 late harvest white from Herdade da Calada. At 10% alc, the late harvest white was made with Antão Vaz - a grape well suited to the warm and sunny climate on the plains of the Alentejo. Large size grapes with tough skins, producing firm, full-bodied, well-structured wines. Golden yellow colour. Intense aroma of orange honey, orange peel, crystallized lemon, some marmalade. In the mouth it is not very concentrated and has good freshness with a honeyed finish.
This course blew everyone away, with a slight honey drizzle topped with slices of clementine - it was a no brainer that this pairing was a dream. The perfect amount of sweetness from the dessert ensures the flavors and expressiveness of Antão Vaz shines through.
Everything at TUGA is centered around honouring the winemakers and producers of Portugal . Their menu is idealised and paired remarkably to elevate their wines. It’s no wonder they were awarded “Best New Resturant of the Year 2021”, “Old World Wine List of the year 2022” - just to name a few.
TUGA is Singapore's insight to the World of Portuguese wines.