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  • Writer's pictureJohn Paul Kaminga

Team Owl Cat: Muxagat Tinta Barroca

Updated: Nov 24, 2023

Muxagat means "owl and cat". Cute, but who cares.*

I do care deeply, however, that the wine pictured above may be the single best $15 wine I've ever sold. Such a statement flirts with an impossible objectivity, but many discerning palates have come to trust me, so I don't throw these words around lightly, and though I realize I might easily come up with many bottles to nullify my present bravado, I'll say it again, and this time without equivocation: this is the best $15 wine I've ever sold!

Who wants to try a bottle?

The Douro is where grapes are grown to make Port(o). For a long time, Port sales have been in decline, and we've seen more and more unfortified table wines emerge from the Douro. It often feels like these wines take inspiration from the power and weight of Port, as there are many Douro table wines that are very ripe, extracted and tannic. Muxagat's Tinta Barroca is clearly not one of these wines. Tinta Barroca is typically used as a blending grape to add freshness and subtle herbal and floral notes, and perhaps would have historically been considered too light to bottle on its own. If one's goal is to make a crisp and elegant red, however, a pure Tinta Barroca is perfectly suited to this end.

Say hello to the new Douro, and thank Muxagat for the introduction.

2021 Muxagat Tinta Barroca Douro - $15

Compared to the 2018, which I reveled in last year, this is a bit straightforward, but that's probably because it's younger, and showing very primary. Aromas of juicy plums, strawberry candy, blueberry yogurt, violets, a little mint, fennel and black pepper, some dark damp soil too... Supple and smooth on the palate, all about primary fruit, somewhat jammy, though it is plenty fresh and elegant, far from heavy and it doesn't come across as overripe. On the finish there's nice floral and earthy character to compete with the dominant fruit. This very nice today, and will likely be a crowd-pleaser, but I'm thinking it'll be a lot more interesting in a year or two.... Forgot about this for a day, and after 48 hours, with about half the bottle left, this is still super fresh, showing no deleterious effects from oxidation. The fruit is pristine, and the lactic element has faded. Spice and flowers are amplified, and it is just overall more aromatic. What a wine for $15. Incredible.

*part of me does care about cute animals on wine labels, let's be honest, but it's also important to note that Muxagat is not just a whimsical name to entice those of us who admire critters, but the name of a village in the Douro.

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