Monte Bluña is a small, quality-oriented producer in the Arruda dos Vinhos DOC, which lies within easy commuting distance (30 km) of Lisbon. Monte Bluña is one of the region’s smaller producers with just 6 hectares of white (Arinto and Vital) and red (Aragonez, Tinta Miúda and Syrah) varieties sustainably grown at more than 300 meters altitude on the Moinho do Céu. Nuno Martins da Silva is the winemaker. The winery manager, Antonio Guerreiro, recently sent us samples direct from Portugal as the winery does not yet have a US importer. The wines are fresh and well-made with offerings that would be unique in the US market.
Arruda dos Vinhos is an area with 2120 hectares of vineyards strongly influenced by the nearby Atlantic Ocean with calcareous clay soils and a moderate climate conducive to viticulture. Its proximity to Lisbon makes it a popular wine and food destination. An annual Festa da Vinha e do Vinho is held each November to showcase the region’s wine.
We tasted four wines from Monte Bluña. The Vinho Branco Reserva is a cofermented blend of Arinto and Vital aged in French oak; it’s a substantial wine that should be served with food. The Tinta Miúda is a low alcohol, bright and fresh bistro red made from the grape of the same name; it would be a good addition to a restaurant or bar’s wine by the glass program. The Vinho Tinto Reserva is a silky blend of Aragonez (Tempranillo) and other varieties matured in French and American oak. And the Bluníssima Vinho Tinto is made from old vine Aragonez on the Moinho do Céu. As noted above, the wines are of good quality and merit importation to the US if they can be brought in at competitive prices. Monte Bluña’s annual production is about 2500 cases.
Monte Bluña 2020 Vinho Branco Reserva Arruda DOC 90 Medium yellow gold. An interesting well-balanced wine that will appeal to those who like well oaked, dry white wines. Aromas and flavors of tropical and dried stone fruit with notes of hazelnut and oak. Lanolin like, creamy textured with good acidity. A blend of Arinto and Vital, hand harvested, destemmed, gently pressed, cofermented, half in French oak and then blended and further aged 9 months in French oak barrels of various sizes and toast levels. pH 3.37, 13% alc.
Monte Bluña 2019 Tinta Miúda Vinho Regional Lisboa 90 Medium ruby-garnet. This is a low alcohol, juicy, fruit forward wine that would be a good complement to light meats and charcuterie. Fresh red berry, plum, and violet aromas and flavors with light tannins, moderately firm acidity and cool fruit flavors. Pleasant astringency on the finish. Serve with a bit of chill. Made from the Tinta Miúda (Graciano) grape variety, hand harvested, and matured in used French oak for 8 months followed by 6 months in stainless steel. pH 3.36, 11.5% alc.
Monte Bluña 2018 Vinho Tinto Reserva Arruda DOC 89 Red ruby with garnet flecks. Aromas of mature, plum and berry fruit with a note of earthy gaminess. Silky, fresh, red fruited palate with a firm tannic grip on the finish. A blend of Aragon and other varieties; the Aragonez was matured in used oak, 80% French and 20% American, for 13 months. Ready to drink now. 13% alc.
Monte Bluña 2017 Bluníssima Vinho Tinto Arruda DOC 92 Medium dark ruby with a garnet tinge at the rim. Fresh, dark cherry and blue fruit with notes of loam and toasty oak on the nose. Firm, fresh dark fruit flavors on a suave palate with firm, round tannins. Considerably fresher than the Tinto Reserva. Made of Aragonéz from a 40-year-old vineyard at 313m in Moinho do Céu. Fermented with malo in concrete and then matured 12 months in an 87/13 mix of used French and American oak barriques followed by another 6 months in stainless steel. Should age well. pH 3.79, 14.5% alc.