Perhaps the best known export from Portugal, the sweet red dessert wines of the Douro Valley are world renowned.
Every wine lover has encountered Port. Here in North America, however, Portugese dry red wines are seriously undervalued and usually offer amazing quality at very affordable prices.
There are more than 250 indigenous Iberian grape varieties, many shared with Spain. Led by the sturdy Touriga Nacional, Castelão, Touriga Franca and Baga. When added to the blends Tinta Roriz – aka Aragonês – known as Tempranillo in Spain and Trincadeira – aka Tinta Amarela – add supple, bright strawberry and raspberry notes.
The Castelão grape is known in the Setúbal Peninsula region as “Periquita”, a name that originated from the vineyard property Cova da Periquita, located in Azeitão, where winemaker José Maria da Fonseca first planted the varietal back in 1830.
José Maria da Fonseca Perequita Azeitão Setubal (25262) $8.60 was also the first Portugese wine to be bottled for commercial sale. A blend of 46 per cent Castelão, 40 per cent Trincadeira and 14 per cent Aragones, it is a dry red aged 6 months new and used French and American oak with dark and dusty aromas and flavours of cherries, blackberries, plum and blackcurrant.
The Douro is a Portuguese wine region centered on the Douro River in the Trás-os-Montes Alto Douro region located upstream from Porto, sheltered by mountain ranges from coastal influence. Entirely owned by the Roquette family since 1989, Esporão is a story about family told every day by a team of people who work together for a common good.
A blend of Castelão, Moreto and Trincadeira, Alandra Esporão Tinto (254516) $10.35 opens with a aromas of black cherry, blueberry, raspberry and just a hint of anise.
A touch on the rustic side, this is a very traditional Portugese red, well suited to meat and tomato-based dishes.
Bacalhôa Vinhos de Portugal, S.A. takes pride in its range of wines, dimension and autonomy in production, fed by a constant bet on innovation and on the recruitment of an experienced team. We work with determination and passion to serve an international clientele in expansion, taking Portugal to the World – one wine glass at a time.
Bacalhôa JP Azeitao Setúbal (292979) $12.00 blends 47 per cent Castelão, 40 per cent Aragonez and 13 per cent Syrah into a Vibrant color, dominantly fruity aromas with nuances specifically of wild berries, strawberries and wild cherries.
On the palate the flavors are identical, integrated with a soft tannic structure.
Dão DOC is home to numerous indigenous grapes, with the majority of wine production being made from Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz, Jaen, Alfrocheiro Preto and Encruzado. 80 per cent of the region’s production is in red wines, with DOC regulations stipulating that at least 20 per cent of the production must be from Touriga Nacional.
In Spain and Portugal ‘Quinta’ means ‘farm’ or estate’.
Many wineries in both countries are called ‘Quintas’. Since 1989, Quinta de Cabriz has been developing the wines of the Dão region. Primarily Touriga Nacional, Cabriz Colheita Seleccionada Dão (623918) $14.25 is a deep and sturdy red, underpinned by notes of Cumin and Coriander with dark plum and dried raspberry flavors.
Bairrada is a Portuguese wine region located in the Beira province located close to the Atlantic where ocean currents have a moderating effect on the climate. The region is bordered to the north by Lafões and to the east by the Dão and is known for its deep colored tannic red wines that often have green pepper and blackcurrant flavors adding complexity
Quinta do Encontro Bairrada (576975) $15.20 is actually half Merlot and half Baga. Intense ruby color with reddish-brown, mixed jam aroma of red fruits, cocoa products, spices and light roasted notes. It seduces with a soft taste, intriguing structure and an elegant and well balanced peppery finish.
As the prices creep closer to $20, Portugese red wines become remarkably rich and seriously earthy. Niepoort Douro Dialogo Tinto (411488) $17.75 is produced from vineyards located in the Cima Corgo sub-region of the Douro and incorporates Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz, Touriga Nacional, Tinta Amarela and Tinta Barroca. Dusky blue and black berry fruit aromas and flavours predominate over a spicy twist of earthy white and black pepper in this gem!
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