by The Wine Guys, Tom Marquardt and Patrick Darr
Portugal is offering some of the best deals in wine nowadays. Although not always made with familiar grapes varieties, consumers will be rewarded with simple, yet delicious, fruit flavors for reasonable prices.
Particularly notable are the wines from the Alentejo region, a hot area long dismissed for its undistinguished wines. Producers here have access to a dizzying array of 250 indigenous grape varieties. Red wines dominate the region five-fold.
Here are a few wines from Alenteo and other parts of Portugal that we recently enjoyed:
Adega de Borba Red Reserva 2015 ($18). This is a lovely blend of trincadeira, alicante bouschet, aragonez and castelao grapes. Ripe blackberry and plum notes with a dash of chocolate and a soft mouthfeel.
Cartuxa Red 2016 ($25). Aragonez, alicante bouschet and trincadeira go into this complex blend that is aged 12 months in French oak and then aged in bottle for another nine months before being released. Cherry and strawberry flavors with truffle aromas and firm tannins. You get a lot for your money here.
Casa Relvas Herdade de Sao Miguel Colheita Seleccionada Red 2017 ($15). We loved the broad aromas and texture of this red blend of alicante bouschet, touriga nacional, syrah and cabernet sauvignon. Very good value.
Quinta da Fonte Souto Branco Alentego 2019 ($25). We enjoyed this refreshing and unique white wine from Portugal. Made from the local arinto and verdelho grapes, the wine has a nice mineral note with soft and luscious grapefruit flavors that coat the palate. Hints of vanilla and lichee. If you like chardonnay, you’ll like this alternative.
Valados de Melgaco Reserva 2017 ($15). This fruity and expressive white alvarinho from Portugal has ripe apple and stone fruit flavors.
Quinta Da Fonte Souto Branca Portalegre 2018 ($25). Portalegre is part of the Alentejo wine region in Southern Portugal. Crafted from 75 percent arinto and 25 percent verdelho white grapes, this complex wine is barrel fermented, kept on its lees and aged in French and Central European oak barrels. The resulting very stylish wine is a tremendous value and somewhat akin to a well-made French white burgundy. Tropical fruit and citrus elements dominate in a very interesting and complex white wine.
Vale do Bomfin DOC Douro Red 2019 ($13). We have harped on the amazing values emanating from the Duoro region for some time now. Here is another winner. A terrific value at $13 and discounted further at some locations, this red table wine though not overly complex, sports fruity cherry notes with a hint of oak. Crafted from touriga franca, touriga national and a slew of other indigenous varieties.
Prats and Symington
Prats and Symington, a winemaking star of the Douro Valley in Portugal, crafts red table wines that have brought acclaim to the region.
The Symington family and Bruno Prats are world-renowned wine luminaries and recognized for their leadership roles crafting award-winning wines. Bruno Prats “made his bones” steering the much-acclaimed Bordeaux winery Chateau Cos D’Estournel in the Saint-Estephe region until 1998. The Symington family are the largest vineyard owners in the Douro Valley and own four of the most prestigious port labels: Dow’s, Graham’s, Warre’s and Cockburn’s.
We recently tasted two red wines crafted by Bruno Prats and Charles Symington. They contain a majority of touriga nacional grapes along with other indigenous varietals. Both of these wines deserve consumers attention depending on the pocketbook.
The P+S Post Scriptum de Chryseia Douro 2018 ($30) is a consumer-friendly red wine presenting bright cherry fruit in an uncomplicated manner with the slightest touch of oak. Uncomplicated but rewarding.
The P+S Chryseia Douro DOC 2017 ($70) is a major step up, featuring plum and cherry elements in a very elegant soft package that allows for immediate consumption although aging would certainly benefit this delicious, harmonious wine. Its16 months of French oak aging contributed to producing this masterpiece.
The Symington Family purchased the famed Quinta Do Vesuvio in the Douro in 1989. While continuing to produce port from these vineyards, the Symingtons have pursued crafting dry red table wines from the property as well. We recently tasted two of their current releases, both of which contain mostly touriga franca and touriga nacional grapes.
The Quinta Do Vesuvio Pombal Do Vesuvio DOC Douro Red 2018 ($30) is a distinctively Portuguese dry table wine displaying plum and berry notes, a hint of mocha and medium tannins.
The Quinta Do Vesuvio DOC Douro Red 2017 ($70-90) is a substantial step up in quality from the Pombal. This is a terrific wine displaying great structure, cherry and cassis notes with a nice spicy component. Delicious now this beauty can easily age for many years to come.
Quinta de Roriz was the first port to be produced as a single estate bottling and was offered for sale as early as 1851 in England. We tasted the Quinta de Roriz 2007 ($85) vintage port which was crafted from a field blend of indigenous grapes at the estate. Although only 14 years old, this port was very expressive and offered a fruit-forward style that many should enjoy. Cherry and berry notes dominate with some licorice elements and a hint of lime in the nose and finish. Not overly sweet. Although not he current vintage, it shows the aging potential for current releases.
Olivier Ravoire Cotes du Rhone Blanc 2017 ($19). We liked this racy, vibrant Rhone Valley blend of grenache blanc, clairette, viognier and roussanne grapes. Pineapple, grapefruit and apple notes with a citric edge and balanced acidity.
Vigne Surrau “Surrau’ Rosso Isola dei Nuraghi IGT 2018 ($27). This is a unique blend of carignano, cannonau and muristellu grapes indigenous to Sardinia. Medium body, generous red berry flavors.
Sosie White Blend 2019 ($35). If you’re looking for something different in white wine, try this blend of roussanne, grenache blanc and marsanne. Expansive apple and citrus aromas with layered flavors and a dash of oak.