Portugal is not only about red wines they do make whites wine too, but when 85% of your show is stained red, those are the wines you concentrate on. We’ll kick off this look at Port and Douro wines with the still table wines then move onto the Ports themselves. Finally, I will tell you my best of show winner … a table that was a must visit.
You will notice the flavours and smells of Portuguese red wines have some similarities to Port, that’s because they use some of the same grapes they make port with to make their red table wines, and you can find some very good reds coming out of this part of the world at very reasonable prices.
There’s the Jose Viseu Carvalho & Filhos 2003 CSE Reserva ($19.00 – Alivin Inc.) with its smooth cherry, chocolate, plum and spice notes. There’s also one of my favourites that’s still kicking around the LCBO (in Vintages), Sogrape’s Callabriga 2003 Red ($18.95) – spicy plum, black cherry, pepper with a creamy smooth mouth-appeal along with some earth and spice notes that hang out an extra long time. The same wine made in the Reserva style ($34.95) brings more anise and pepper into the mix with some oaky-cedaryness and mucho ageability. (Charlton & Hobbs Inc.)
Favaios (currently seeking an agent) has four interesting sweet “Moscatels”, 3 of which were very enjoyable – the fourth tasted similar to the first. A fruity, apricot and pear dominated Aperitif ($21), a 10-year-old version ($52.50) which was an interesting combination of fresh fruit with sherry-like nuances, and a vintage 1989 ($63) tasted like a sweet sherry.
Port is the mainstay of this show and it’s what brings most of the people out. Its those sweet succulent cherry flavours, nutty almond nuances and those in-your-face dried fruits that lure us through the door; and every producer in the room knows it, because everyone makes one. One person turned to me at the show and said, “once you’ve tasted one Port you’ve pretty much tasted them all … problem is, they’re all good.” I would agree to some extent … but it’s also why the stunners really stick out.
I tasted two from Sandeman, which were lovely – first, the Sandeman Ruby Port ($15.45 – LCBO) a sweet, easy drinker with cherries, plum and cinnamon all wrapped up in a smooth delivery. More interesting is the Sandeman Vau Vintage 2000 ($51.95 – LCBO) – a vintage port made to drink sooner. Fresh and fruity with the tannic bite of Vintage Port, but to a lesser degree. Let’s call this one an over-dressed teenage Port, it’s meant to seem older than it is.
I mentioned to someone that they should end at this booth (Table 17) because, “once you’re tried this stuff the show is pretty much over for you.” Quinta do Infantado is an A list vineyard in Portugal (the highest rating a vineyard can have) and everything I tried was of exceptional quality, and the shocker was the price: all very reasonable, especially for what was in the bottle. Starting with the 2005 Douro Red ($21.95 - #681486 – private order) – elegant and smooth with black fruit, cherries and cinnamon on the nose; cherry, plum and red fruit dominated with an elegance and finesse unparalleled in the room on this day … wow! The late bottled vintage, LBV 2004 ($28.95 - #680223 – private order) was smooth as silk with a lush dark fruit finish and tons of black cherry. Finally, the real show stopper – Infantado Ruby Port ($15.95 - #979898 – private order) is an absolute steal at that price ($15.95) for this quality Ruby: sweet cherries and milk chocolate, fresh clean crisp acidity that flows through the mouth with sip-appeal which keeps you craving more … dark chocolate is the perfect match for this one. If you’re looking for any of these three wines contact MCO … Interesting Wines and Spirits (905-562-1392) or petition the LCBO to put them on their shelves … I know I’d be buying them.