Thursday, October 25, 2018


There really is something for everyone when it comes to wines from Portugal. Want a light, refreshing aperitif, something breezy for a summer's day? Head to Vinho Verde. More of a weighty Chardonnay fan? Try Encruzado on for size. Prefer a plush red? You won't run out of options from single varietals or blends of Portugal's numerous indigenous varieties, alongside some known entities like Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. Lean towards the savory side? Sip on a Ramisco. Dessert wine fan? There are a range of Ports to suit your style.

Don't worry about memorizing all of the strange grape varieties; many producers aren't even sure what's in there, as field blends are quite common. (Back in the day, when people didn't care so much about each specific grape, they just grew haphazardly in the field.)

I often say that I rarely meet a Portuguese wine I don't like, and a recent tasting sponsored by Wines of Portugal proved that in spades. Plus, these wines are generally very affordable, although we're seeing more super-high-end (and subsequently high-priced) offerings out there these days. Some of these particular wines are not yet available in the U.S., but keep an eye out for the style or grapes!

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2017 Vila Nova Alvarinho, White IGP Vinho Verde
Peach, white flowers, little savory elements. Tasty and refreshing.

2017 Kelman Encruzado, White DOC/DOP Dão e Lafões
Toasty, smoky, yellow apple, lemon, green fruit, weighty from one-month lees contact, but great acid to balance.

2011 Monte Cascas Colares DOC Ramisco, Red DOC/DOP Lisboa
Pale garnet color, silky and satiny, with pronounced acidity and low tannins and alcohol. Red cherry, potpourri, spice, wet leaves, dried herbs, saline, savory. Elegant and yet has power. Unusual.

(I visited Colares on a trip to Lisbon a few years ago, read about it here!)

2015 CH by Quinta de Chocapalha, Red IGP Lisboa
Black plum and blackberry, with violet florals, chocolate, sage, lavender. Big and rich but not heavy-handed. Organically grown, fermented in historical stone lagares, 24 months aging in French barriques. ~$37

2011 Quinta de Lemos Jaen, Red DOC/DOP Dão
Fruity: blueberry, black cherry, blackberry, with some barnyard, campfire smoke, black pepper, toast, light vanilla. Long finish with a plush mouthfeel. Very juicy(!) but elegant. Granite soils. ~$35

2014 Júlio B. Bastos Garrafeira, Red DOC/DOP Alentejo
Red cherry, cassis, lavender, eucalyptus, dusty mocha. 100% Alicante Bouschet. Foot-trodden in marble lagares. Lots going on, with a compact feel.

2014 Cartuxa, Red DOC/DOP Alentejo
Ripe, juicy cherry, raspberry, grapefruit pith, sage, smoke -- little Syrah-ish! Big (14.5% abv) but not "hot." 45% Aragoñez, 40% Alicante Bouschet, 15% Trincadeira, 12 month in French oak. ~$19

2016 100 Hectares Sousão, Red DOC/DOP Douro
Plush tannins and mouth-filling texture. Cherry liqueur, violets, roses, blackberries, blueberries, coffee, mocha. Petite Sirah/Zinfandel-ish. Mmm.

2012 Esporão Quinta dos Murças Reserva, Red DOC/DOP Douro
Purple all the way. Savory, caramel, liqueur fruit, dense and dark, warm and rich. Super smooth. LOOOOVE. ~$33

NV Churchill's Dry White Port, DOP Porto
Medium-gold color. Smoke, caramel, herbal, mandarin peel -- intense and dense -- rich, super-long finish. LOVE. ~$23/500ml

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Definitely keep your eyes peeled for Portuguese wines. I know you'll discover a new fave!


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