Thursday, June 12, 2008

Report from ... Portugal Tasting – June 3, 2008

My job, as I see it anyway, is to point you in the direction of two things: 1) good wine and 2) great values on good wine. Portugal offers plenty of those. Sure Portugal’s number one known wine is Port, but there are lots of great Portuguese wines you can drink before or during dinner and without the need for blue cheese or a stinky stogie to puff on.

As aperitif try the Adega Luis Pato 2007 Espumante Maria Gomes (private order $17.00) – a sparkler with a dry palate but plenty of pear and apple as part of its sweet smell.

Esporao Wines has a tasty 2005 4 Castas (~$27.50 – private order) made from the best grapes of the vintage … smooth red and black fruit with a good spiciness. Their $50 Private Selection is their “Rolls Royce” of all their wines – big bite of tannins here with lots of black fruit and good ageing potential.

J. Portugal Ramos Vinhos puts out a line of wines called “Tagus Creek”, which blends an international grape variety with something indigenous; these make for some great introductory wines. Sold widely across the U.K., in places like Tesco, these are tasty and approachable wines that will, hopefully, hit our shores in the coming year or so; and at a very reasonable 12 to 18 dollars a bottle.

Alves de Sousa used to be a Port House, well they still are, but they wanted to expand into wines for dinner too – not just the ones for after. From their 100-year old low yielding vines comes their Vinha de Lordelo 205 ($61.99 – consignment). A beautiful nose of spicy red fruit, smooth and delicious.

I’ve told you about a few wines you can’t buy readily, so let me bring your attention to one that’s at Vintages right now: Quinta da Cortezia 2005 Touriga Nacional ($18.95) – smooth, big red fruit and plummy with a touch of creamy oak and dark chocolate-caramel.

Back to consignment wines: there are three from Casa Agricola Joao E Antonio Pombo … three Herdade Do Meio wines. The 2004 basic Meio (~$34.95) sweet and spicy on the palate. The 2004 Homenagem (~$50) a two grape blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah that’s spicier than its predecessor. Then there’s the amazing 2003 Garrafeira (~$50) all indigenous grapes are used in this 4 grape blend, wonderful nose of herbs, spice and red fruit with a sweet mid-palate … this one’s smooth with heat. Best tasting wine of the day.

Finally, I’m gonna be taking advantage of this Deal-of-the-Day, if the folks at Carriage Trade Wines and Spirits in Orangeville will get back to me. A $12 bottle of Quinta da Alorna 2007, a blend of 3 indigenous grapes and Syrah. Chocolate-cherry on the nose and taste with a great mid-palate and smooth finish with really lush tannins. I’m awaiting my call back to order a case – I suggest you call now to get on-board with this one, it’s private ordered directly from the winery and delivery takes 6-8 weeks.

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