The Critics

James Suckling 92 points
Reserva 2012, Howard’s Folly

Intense and deep red with blackberry, dark-chocolate and walnut aromas with hints of dried rose petals and sandalwood. Full-bodied, dense and layered with lots of spice and berry character on the finish. Big and juicy, yet there’s a linear line of tannins flowing through it. A blend of syrah and alicante. Drink now.

Julia Harding (of Jancis Robinson)
Reserva 2012 Vinho Regional Alentejano, Howard’s Folly

Inky black cherry colour, almost black at the core and still very youthful looking. More obvious oak compared with the Sonhador 2012 but also a little more savoury, still that slight minty character. Lovely dry-textured dark fruit, a touch of dark chocolate in that dry texture and refined in its rocky darkness even though the sweetness of the oak spice counterbalances that to some extent. Tannins chewy and quite thick, thicker than the Sonhador, but still showing impressive freshness on the finish for such a big wine. At the moment I prefer the slightly more fluid Sonhador but this should have a long future as the texture becomes more refined.

Julia Harding (of Jancis Robinson)
Sonhador 2012 Vinho Regional Alentejano, Howard’s Folly

Inky black cherry colour, still showing some purple at the rim – very youthful looking. Complex aroma but not yet into tertiary mode – lots of dark fruit, a touch of mint, no one variety dominating though there’s pepper, sweet fruit spice and a lightly floral note as if each variety were contributing to the whole. Really lovely depth on the palate, rich, generous and spicy dark fruit and yet with an elegance and freshness that seems to come from the site. Firm but finely textured, still seems to be in its infancy but approachable now with food. Just a hint of dark chocolate on the finish, but it is dry not sweet in its effect. Lots of pleasure and good length.

Jancis Robinson
Sonhador 2011 Vinho Regional Alentejano, Howard’s Folly

Healthy crimson. Mellow nose and fully resolved palate of sweet, nicely combined fruit and mineral notes. Very good balance of ripeness and freshness. Thoroughly satisfying. Lightly, attractively, dusty on the persistent finish.

Julia Harding (of Jancis Robinson)
Sonhador Alvarinho 2013 Vinho Verde, Howard’s Folly

Deeply aromatic – even a suggestion of oak though the technical sheet says not – spiced with both pear and orange aromas. Intensely fragrant. Smells creamy too, thanks to the lees. There’s a lovely light tannic grip on the palate that balances the aromatic fruit perfectly, making this a wine that would be great on its own or at the table. Fresh as well as deep. Savoury and pear-fruited. Long and satisfying. Very good indeed. Has a great combination of power and freshness, expressing both the region and the variety. Delicious.

Sarah Ahmed, Daily Telegraph
The 2013 Sonhador Alvarinho, Howard’s Folly

The 2013 Sonhador Alvarinho Bursts with tropical fruit – really juicy but concentrated pineapple with a touch of honey/syrup and lip-smacking greengage for balance. It maintained full throttle fruit and line on day two when it was too moreish not to disappear down the hatch!

Robert Parker 93 points
The NV Edição Limitada 6033, Howard’s Folly

The NV Edição Limitada 6033 is a blend of three vintages (2010, 2011 and 2012–the “20s” adding up to 60 and the 10, 11 and 12 adding up to the 33; hence, the “6033” in the name). It is an equal blend of Syrah (used French oak), Alicante Bouschet (used American oak) and Aragonez (new French oak). It comes in at 15% alcohol. Adding a bit of concentration to the 2011 Reserva (also reviewed), this also gains the edge in complexity of flavor, although not in freshness. This leans more to richness. Sweet-edged on opening, with tightness on the finish, this still demonstrates both finesse and balance, as well as that intensity of flavor. It improved very dramatically with 60 to 90 minutes of air. It became a very different and far superior wine. That seems to be a good sign. There were just 400 magnums produced.

Hugues – proprietor of LQV wines
Howard’s Folly Sonhador 2011

Then we moved onto a small red pairing with boeuf bourguignon: with Howard’s Folly Sonhador 2011, Reserva (Vinho Regional Alentejono) 2007, and a mysterious cuvee 6033. Let’s starts with Sonhador 2011: it was a direct yet powerful wine, very good to pair with our boeuf bourguignon: thin tannins bringing together the palates of the wine and the meat; comparing to another wine, Reserva 2007 is a much finer wine (been aged in berral for 5 years) that is perfect to drink without food, and actually the wine reminds me of the famous Dominus: one of my Napa’s favourite and in fact my very first Napa wine; with strength balance of soft tannins and very clean aftertaste.

Parker Review
The 2012 Alvarinho Sonhador

Howard’s Folly comes in at 13% alcohol. It seems right at home, fresh, juicy and well-crafted, with a somewhat surprising tightness, given its age. While lively, it also has substance, good depth and purity of fruit, plus a hint of lemon on the finish. The “on-opening” juicy blast smooths out with air and it shows more finesse and character in time. It should drink well any time of the year. 89 points

Matthew Jukes for MoneyWeek – 15 Jan 2016
Howard’s Folly Sonahdor 2011

Using awesome raw materials, brilliant winemaking (David Baverstock) and affording staggering value for money. You are unlikely to find a more complete, succulent and layered red wine anywhere in the world for the same cash. I commend it to you, but hurry as production is very limited.’

Parker Review
Howards Folly Sonhador 2011

This just screams “elegance” at you. Graceful and understated, its texture is velvety and there is not a hair out of place. It finishes with juicy fruit and bursts of flavor. The ripe tannins give it a “drink-me-now” feel. Don’t ogle this debonair wine, just drink it. You’ll be happy, and in the short run happier than the score suggests. 88 Points

Jancis Robinson – Jan 2016
Howard’s Folly Sonhador 2011
Healthy crimson. Mellow nose and fully resolved palate of sweet, nicely combined fruit and mineral notes. Very good balance of ripeness and freshness. Thoroughly satisfying. Lightly, attractively, dusty on the persistent finish.

Jancis Robinson for Financial Times – 14 Jul 2012
Howard’s Folly Alvarinho 2010 Vinho Verde
The famous Albariño of Rias Baixas made in northern Portugal by Australian David Baverstock for a Hong Kong businessman. Complicated enough for you? Attractively clean and fresh with so much more ripe fruit than in the Vinho Verde of old. Good stuff.

Nottinghamshire Today – Wine of the Month April 2012 Reviewed by Mary Trease
Produced in the Vinho Verde region of Portugal, one of two special sub-regions where alvarinho can be cultivated. A bright crystal clear wine with floral aromatics of orange blossom and lemon peel. It is intense and elegant with a stunning complex minerality.

Neil Pendock
The Good Value Guru writes for Times Live South Africa:
‘Howard’s folly is of a liquid kind — an Alvarinho 2010 from Moncäo in the Vinho Verde region of Portugal. Made by David Baverstock, whose day job is making wine at Esporao or for Cliff Richard in the Algarve: it is ripe and tropically fruited with a broad seam of minerality running through it like a Roman road, as they do in rural Portugal. Talk about linear flavours!’

Simon Tam for South China Morning Post writes:
‘The Portuguese grape known as alvarinho (pronounced al-va-rin-yo) is the same as the albarino in Spain. This lovely and unpretentious grape, which has a citrusy perfume, tastes a little like Riesling. Howard’s Folly has heightened notes of lemon blossom and the palate is fresh and very likable. This is great wine to serve with steamed scallops and it provides support to the ginger and garlic.’

Sarah Ahmed posted Tuesday 29th November 2011 for “The Wine Detective” at The Wine Society’s second ‘Wines of Portugal’ tasting:
Howard’s Folly, Atvarinho, Vinho Verde 2010— packs an impressive punch with its zesty citrus attack and creamier, honeyed tropical fruit salad mid-palate and mineral finish. A very modern, lusciously fruited Alvarinho from David Baverstock 13%. £10.95

Sarah Ahmed – The Wine Detective — Monday, Oct 31, 2011
‘Just a quick post today indeed post script, following up on last Mondays blog (here) about the popularity of Vinho Verde amongst winemakers from other regions of Portugal.

I mentioned that it prompted me to stick a bottle of the maiden vintage of Howards Folly Alvarinho 2010 Vinho Verde in the fridge. It has since graced my wine glass on two consecutive nights (both glasses from the same bottle) and, as I expected, David Baverstock shows a sure hand with this, Portugal’s flagship white grape variety.

In some respects, with its zesty citrus attack and creamier, honeyed tropical fruit salad mid-palate and mineral finish (not to mention the label), it reminds me of Herdade do Esporao Reserve Branco, also made by Baverstock somewhat further south of Vinho Verde, in Alentejo. Only, given its northern roots, it’s zingier and unoaked of course.

Sourced from the Alvarinho-focused Vinho Verde sub-region of Melgaco, it packs an impressive (fruit) punch, with its greengage and citrus bite and I’m very sure consumers will love it. It sells for £12.95 at Hercules Wine Warehouse.’

Christine Austin
Yorkshire Post Wine Critic — Saturday, July 09, 2011
‘While you are at Field and Fawcett you should pick up a bottle of Howard’s Folly 2007 for its dense, ripe, forest fruits and plush, soft tannins. Howard is an exiled Yorkshireman who has invested in a wine business, but has hired David Baverstock to make the wine. As an investment, the wine business is always folly, but it would be equally foolish to miss this wine.’

Parker Reviews

Howard’s Folly 2007 Blend of Syrah, Alicante, Bouschet and Touriga Nacional
Deep garnet colour, slightly reduced tar and rubber aromas over blackberry, black cherry, tree bark, truffles and anise plus some yeast extract, crisp acidity with a low to medium level of chewy tannins, just enough fruit and a long finish. Nice balance and purity.

Howard’s Folly 2006 Blend of Syrah, Alicante, Bouschet and Touriga Nacional
Deep garnet coloured, earthy aromas of underbrush, mushrooms and damp loam over espresso, tar, prunes and dried cherries plus a whiff of liquorice. Medium acid and low to medium level of chewy tannins, plenty of savoury fruit, med-full body, long finish.

Lisa Perrotti-Brown, Master of Wine and Robert Parker’s representative in Singapore

The winery’s first Reserva, is mostly Syrah, with 15% Alicante Bouschet and 5% Touriga Nacional, all aged for 12 months in a mixture of new and old French oak. A big step up over the regular Tinto in purity, fruit flavor, depth and structure, this has some nods to French Syrah in style. Rather tasty, it is clean and fresh, with a juicy, flavorful finish. What this lacks in depth, it often makes up for in charm and flavor. This first bottling shows some notable promise for the winery. Drink now – 2017.” 87 points
The 2010 ALVARINHO “HOWARD’S FOLLY” is the debut white wine here. It is quite charming, with some finesse and penetration. A bit lemony on the finish, still showing quite young, it is pure and refreshing with adequate depth for its grape.  Sunny and elegant, it is a pleasure to drink, especially successful as a debut. Drink now-2015. 88 points

The 2011 SONHADOR “HOWARD’S FOLLY” is an Alvarinho aged for 4 months on the lees. ……… this showed nicely, bright and penetrating with a mouthwatering, acidic finish. It would be a perfect warm weather wine, invigorating aromatically and refreshing on the palate.  Drink now-2016. 88 Points.

Howard’s Folly 2006 Vinho Regional Alentejano, Portugal

A blend of Syrah, Alicante Bouschet and Touriga Nacional, made by Portuguese-resident Aussie winemaker David Baverstock. It’s a deep-coloured wine with a seductive nose of sweet dark fruits and nicely integrated oak. The palate is broad and sweetly fruited with nice density and some freshness. Ripe, full and generous; made in a modern, new world style but it seems to me that this is still retaining a sense of Portugueseness (albeit only just).
89/100 (8.95 UK agent Charles Hawkins).

Howard’s Folly is a blend of Touriga Nacional. Alicante Bouschet and Syrah made under the supervision of flying Australian winemaker David Baverstock in the Alentejo. Intensely flavoured yet smooth and supple. It is a fine match for Moroccan spiced Iamb or tagine.


A perky red for outdoor entertaining.

When the summer eventually arrives (ignore that blip of scorching weather in April and the recent downpours), and we all manage to venture outside for a bit of al-fresco excitement, you will inevitably search for the perfect ‘session’ red and matching white for entertaining and enlivening your pals.

This week I am focusing on the red that will perform at the highest level and do the impossible, which is not drop the ball on lighter, barbecued chicken bits, but also step up to the plate when a mighty, pre-marinated steak (of some quality) hits the furnace and demands that the vinous accompaniment steps up to the mark.

My chosen warrior is named after its creator – Howard. He told me, on a recent wine tasting trip to Hong Kong, where he resides, that he loves David Baverstock’s wines (a top-quality winemaker in Portugal- ex-Aussie) and he fancied making a wine for his pals to slot on all occasions. He commissioned this very wine!

Made from Syrah, Alicante Bouschet and Touriga Nacional, and aged for a short, but crucial six months in French and American oak, you get perky spice, black fruit and wonderful juiciness in perfect harmony. It’s inexpensive and Howard should rename it Howard’s Result, as that’s what it is.

Matthew Jukes is a winner of the International Wine & Spirit Competition’s Communicator of the Year

Steven Spurrier – DECANTER MAGAZINE 2007 Reserva
Deep red, some maturity on the rim, still quite fresh on the nose with oak still present over red and black berry fruits, nice natural richness on the palate, soft on the attack but good firmness on the finish, mature now but good for another 3-4 years. 16/20.

Steven Spurrier – DECANTER MAGAZINE 2008
Dense young red with purple rim, ripe red and black fruits on the nose showing a summer pudding ripeness, ripe, firm, slightly earthy fruit on the palate with each grape playing a part to give succulence, spice and a finish with soft tannins and natural acidity. 15.5/20.

Sarah Ahmed review
Alvarinho 2013.

This is the third vintage I’ve tasted of Yorkshireman Howard Bilton’s Alvarinho. This consistently sunny, tropical fruit-fest of an Alvarinho provides all the vitamin C & D one could wish for.

It is one of two renditions of this Vinho Verde varietal super star which suggest you can take the man out of Alentejo, but you can’t take the Alentejo out of the man!

Howards Folly Sonhador Alvarinho is made by Esporao’s David Baverstock; Joao Portugal Ramos makes one too. Both are from Alvarinho hotspot Monção e Melgaço.

Howards Folly Sonhador Alvarinho 2013 (Monção e Melgaço, Vinho Verde)
Bursts with tropical fruit – really juicy but concentrated pineapple with a touch of honey/syrup and lip-smacking greengage for balance. It maintained full throttle fruit and line on day two when it was too moreish not to disappear down the hatch! 13% £13.62 at Buy Fine Wine whom I notice have sloppily (a) quoted my tasting note without attribution, even down to a typo – should say New World and (b) maintained said description of the 2010 vintage for the 2013. Ahem!


Wine Reviews


Howard's Folly wins 2 bronzes and a silver at the HK based International Wine & Spirit Competition


The Alentejo, located to the east of Lisbon, has become a leader of Portugal's renaissance for the production of premium wines.

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