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Wines of Portugal Wine Quest winner talks Encruzado and Alvarinho

Published:  21 July, 2016

Lukasz Walkowiak, sommelier at Oxo Tower, has been named the Wines of Portugal Wine Quest winner 2016.

Lukasz Walkowiak, sommelier at Oxo Tower, has been named the Wines of Portugal Wine Quest winner 2016.

Walkowiak beat 10 other sommeliers to the title last week, following an immersive educational experience to discover more about Portuguese wines.

Originally from Poland, Walkowiak said he entered the competition to learn more about Portuguese wines.

"Previously, I didn't have a huge knowledge of Portuguese wines but I'd been lucky enough to try some aged wines from Portugal and I wanted to do something crazy. In the UK as with everywhere, there is a huge amount of French and Italian wine but there are lot of interesting wines coming out of Portugal too," he said.

Last month, Walkowiak, runner-up, Davide Dall'Amico of RAC Club, and the other competitors embarked on an educational trip to Portugals wine regions, including those in the north - Douro, Dão and Bairrada - and central/south - Alentejo, Ribatejo and Estremadura.

His highlights include Quinta dos Carvalhais Branco Especial NV (Dão), Anselmo Mendes Curtimenta Alvarinho 2013 (Monção e Melgaco, Vinho Verde), Quinta do Crasto Reserva Old Vines 2008 (Douro) - all of which had an impact on Walkowiak's perception of Portugal as a wine producing country.

"In previous times the reds were over ripe and over extracted. But now they are a lot more polished. I was really excited to try the local grape varieties like Alvarinho and to try some of the red blends. Portuguese winemakers have a personal approach to the wines. The focus is on quality and developing their own style."

On May 23, participants also attended the Wines of Portugal Wine Academy day hosted by Charles Metcalfe in Central London.

During the June trip, attendees were tasked with choosing one exceptional wine to champion at the final held in London last week.

Walkowiak chose Quinta dos Carvalhais Reserva Branco 2011 - a blend of Encruzado and Verdelho (Dão) as his "star" white.

"Encruzado is famous for its white wines. It's got a Burgundy style with creamy, oaky flavours but with nice acidity," he said.

Quinta do Poeira 'Poeira' Tinto 2013, a field blend of classic Douro grapes, was his exceptional red.

Walkowiak is now preparing to take part in Wines from Chile competition next year.