Archive | Portugal RSS feed for this section

Wines of the Dão

29 Feb

When I think about wines with tremendous value, my first reaction is the Iberian Peninsula. But move over Spain, the wines of Portugal are coming through!

OK, so is this really new? Maybe you’ve tried some Portuguese wines before. But this IS new, unless you have truly paid serious attention to the wines of the Dão region. And they are worth your time! Quite simply, these are high quality wines, but ranging in price from $9-30/bottle. At that price, you can drink them every day without regret!

 

Here are a few of the DOC Dão wines that really impressed me:

 

WHITES:
Soito Encruzado 2017 13.5% ABV, $17/bottle. A blend of 90% Encruzado and 10% Malcasia-Fina, Pale yellow in color with a tinge of green. Starts with an aroma of white flowers, the palate offers green apple, Bosc pear, and lemon. Secondary notes of apricot and minerality.

 

 

Pedra Cancela “Vinha da Fidala” Encruzado 2018: 13% ABV, found for $13-17/bottle online. Color is bright lemon yellow, nose blends stone fruit with floral cuttings and honey. On the palate, tart lemon with hints of sweet pear and apple. This wine shows smooth, balanced citrus with a medium finish. Long and linear, it is reminiscent of a Burgundian style. This wine haunted my palate. I wanted to taste it again and again, and I did. It is the wine I wanted to pair my whole dinner with.

 

 

Quinta dos Roques Encruzado 2018: 100% Encruzado, 13.5% ABV, $17/Bottle. Color is pale gold, with a medium floral nose. Stone fruit on the palate with nice acidity, secondary notes of grapefruit, almond, and a touch of oak. The luxurious mouthfeel made me want to taste this again after several years to enjoy its development.

 

 

REDS:

 

Pedra Cancela Seleção do Enólogo Tonto 2016: 13.3% ABV, $9/bottle. A blend of Touriga-Nacional, Alfocheiro and Jaen. Medium ruby in color, and aromatic nose of red fruit with spice and green pepper, secondary notes of eucalyptus and licorice. I thought this wine was absolutely delicious pairing with octopus course and short rib entrée. But I expected it would be in the $20-25 range, and that would be a fair price. But to my shock, this wine sells for $9 and change per 750 ml bottle. Really, that’s not a typo. NINE dollars. Where can you find that kind of deal that isn’t corporate winemaking? Dão, that’s where.

 

 

 

 

Borges Touriga Nacional 2017, 12.5%ABV,  $13/bottle.

Double decanted before tasting, the wine is deep ruby in color, a full and has a full nose of red plum, currant and pomegranate. On the palate, cherry and plum dominate with earthy notes of leather, tobacco leaf, smoke, and wet earth. Excellent balance of fruit, acidity, and tannin. A long, supple finish with toasted oak.  (This wine is also a Wine Enthusiast Recommended Best Buy) At this price? Buy a case.

 

 

Jaime de Almeida Barros Quinta das Camélias Tinto Reserva 2015, 13.5% ABV, Online from $12-$14/bottle.

Deep purple in color; the nose is complex and expansive with black plum, violet, and spice box. A powerful mouthfeel, full-bodied blend with black fruit, eucalyptus, mocha and rawhide, the finish has a decidedly mineral note of granite. Among the more mature wines in this portfolio, a five year old wine with a double decant showed wonderfully and paired in a way I’d expect old world wines to demonstrate after a decade. And at this price point, what is not to love?

 

What should you take away from reading about these wines? You owe it to yourself to find wines from the Dão region and get them in your repertoire. You’ll be amazed at how much you enjoy them individually, and then again with how deliciously they pair with food. They are a quintessential example of Mediterranean fare, ranging from raw fruits and vegetables to fresh seafood to grilled red meats, with sun, sea, and salt notes that are brimming of life.

What could you compare them to? Think of Encruzado not as it might easily be related to Albariño, but instead as a petite chablis that wants to start your evening, join you for the salad and fish course, and come back to finish your meal.

Think of Jaen as Portugal’s native cabernet franc- (though it is _not_ related to that grape). But similarly, it is full, yet bright with red currants, cherry, dried cranberry, and a hint of green pepper. Ideal pairings include Iberian cheeses, risotto, mushrooms, and red meats.  Of course, these are just an introductory way for you to think about and relate to the grapes and the wines, but should give you some incentive to find these beauties in such reasonable, daily-drinking price range, and share them with your friends and families. I can’t suggest strongly enough that you spend a little time and find wines, either these, or others from Portugal’s Dão DOC. Whether you search online, or ask your local wine store to get some samples in from their distributors, these wine are well worth your time, in terms of high quality winemaking, flexible and quality flavor, and reasonable, daily drinking prices.

 

Whats in your glass?

 

 

à votre santé!!

Eclipse: 10 Year Old Tawny Port Wine #MWWC35

2 Oct

An eclipse is when one celestial body temporarily blocks another during travel along its ellipse. According to NASA, a solar eclipse occurs when the moon blocks the light of the sun and casts its shadow on the earth. During a lunar eclipse, the earth blocks the light from the sun and casts its shadow on the moon.

Sounds like a pretty basic thing. And they happen all the time, in the life of a planet- about every 18 months, a total solar eclipse is visible from somewhere on earth. But humans and animals are deeply moved by this event. Animals may scare,  roosters will crow afterwards. Human show extreme emotion; many call it ‘life-changing’.

There has been some great music written about eclipses.

 

 

Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters penned the nihilistic thought in Eclipse ,  “Everything under the sun is in tune, but the sun is eclipsed by the moon”; while Tom Petty countered in The Dark of the Sun, “Into the dark of the sun, will you save me a place? Give me hope, give me comfort, get me to a better place?”

 

 

I have a different take on the eclipse:


“Only in darkness can you truly appreciate light.”

-JvB 

 

To this end, I give you the beautiful darkness: 10 Year Old Tawny Port Wine.

Port is the quintessential contemplation drink (with its low ABV, you can drink a lot more of it than liquor before getting loaded!) Thought of commonly as an after-dinner drink (digestif), it is also an apéritif, and pairs gorgeously with dried fruit, jam, and medium to full-bodied cheeses. Port deserves a round-bottomed glass such as a Burgundy wine glass or a cognac snifter, as the aromas are intoxicatingly complex and beautiful.

 

Fortified wines have structure and elements that helps you understand non-fortified wines better. It blocks out the thoughts, flavors, aromas, and impacts of red, orange, rosé, and white wines, and gives you a new perspective on them.  “Only in darkness can you truly appreciate light.” After port, you should not have an issue identifying a nutty aroma, stewed fruit, caramel, or burnt orange, among other classic characteristics.

 

Warre’s Otima 10 Year Old Tawny Port; Douro Valley, Portugal. 20% ABV, SRP $30/bottle; Sample by Calhoun & Company.

 

Color is a warm, orange and caramel tawny. The nose is nutty with rich, ripe fruit and dried rose petals. On the palate: fruit compote, butterscotch, dried date and raisin, a rounded mouthfeel with a mature and elegant finish. This is a gorgeous port wine that is a little more delicate and specific than some others. I love it after dinner,  but sometimes when I enjoy it by myself,  I prefer pairing this with salty snacks like almonds or pretzels, over ice cream, or with a grilled cheese and tomato sandwich late at night.

 

Graham’s 10 Year Old Tawny Port: Upper Douro Valley, Portugal. 20%ABV, SRP $36/bottle; Sample by Calhoun & Company.

Color is a ruddy umber, while the nose offers burnt sugar and blackberry. On the palate: a warm fruit compote engages the tongue while an overly ripe black plum crosses the side palates with a touch of heat on the top. Reserved secondary notes of honey, toasted cashew, and dried fig swirl together with the elegant, oaken finish. 

 

 

For me, the perfect pairing for Graham’s 10 Year Old Tawny Port is perhaps a charcuterie and cheese platter, as this port loves anything you pair with it. Given the option, the wise palate would go wild with spicy cured meats, moderate to strong cheese, olives, dried apricots and grape bunches. Late at night I might be known to pour a few fingers of port and pop some crackers with borgonzola and fig preserve in the toaster oven. Don’t just me until you try it- what I can tell you is that the pairing defines structure, balance,  and beauty. Your mouth will love you for it, and the Tawny Port will last you months after opening to provide maximum enjoyment.

When you put down the tawny and go back to your still (non-fortified) wines, you will have gained new appreciation and perspective. You’ll appreciate that eclipse and what it opens up for you- both on your palate, and in your mind.

 

#MWWC35

 

à votre santé!

Esporão Quinto Dos Murças Minas 2015

18 Jul

Herdade do Esporão Quinto Dos Murças Minas 2015, DOC Douro, Portugal. ABV 14%, MSRP $25/bottle.

 

Color is a vibrant, warm purple center with violet edging. The nose proffers black plum, ripe cherry, and spice box with notes of topsoil, charred oak, and calceous clay. On the palate: red and black cassis, plum, then notes of violet, vanilla, leather, sand and slate.  Strong heat lingers across the top palate with grippy tannins across the side and rear. A nice aftertaste on the finish; lingering smoke and black cherry on the top of the mouth. 

 

Drinkable now as a great food-pairing wine (hello, Petiscos?)  but when this finishes harmonizing the elements, look out. This is going to drink gorgeously by itself, given the right amount of time in a cool, dark cave.

I paired this with a light mediterranean, late night dinner. The eggplant tahini I tried first didn’t make the wine shine at first. But, when I moved on to fresh vegetables and spicy turkish salad dip, this wine sang like a soprano center stage! Give her grilled meats or some hot summer spice, and wow- your tongue will be working overtime in pleasure. Likewise, I could easily see Spanish, Mexican, Indian or Thai being a killer pairing with this wine- I would love to try lamb vindaloo with this Douro blend, or find it in a Brazilian steakhouse!

What’s your favorite pairing with Douro reds? Grilled octopus? Fowl sausage? Porto Preto? Francesinha?  Soap de Cação?

à votre santé!

 

Locations Wines P4: Portugal!

28 Feb

P4 Locations Wines by David Phinney, Portuguese Red Wine Blend. 15%ABV, MSRP$18/bottle.

p4-label

Color is deep ruby with warm purple edges. The nose is a touch hot, hiding rich dark fruit beneath the alcohol that requires a moment to dissipate. On the palate, black plum, black and blue berries, green vegetation, and a hint of bitter herb on the back palate. Strong tannins and acidity deliver a solid finish with notes of dark chocolate, vanilla, gravel, and chalk.

The flavors are dark and deeply concentrated, evoking images of ancient, gnarled rootstock, and powerful sun beating down on small fruit hanging from low vines carefully strung across a steep hillside.

A beautiful palate cleanser, my initial thought was that this wine begs for petiscos, fresh fish and the warm climate of home, being a blend of touriga franca, touring nacional, and trincadeira grapes. But it is still winter in NYC, so I opened this bottle and enjoyed a glass with grilled chicken and broccoli, and was more that satisfied. Two days later with my in-laws, it paired beautifully with winter meat loaf, potatoes and salad. And once again, my brother-in-law and I just enjoyed this wine so evenly! Not to be outdone, on day four it matched a vegetarian dinner of kale salad and baked onion pie. While compiling my notes, the final sips paired beautifully again with baked gorgonzola bites and then perfectly with a single piece of dark chocolate.

 

p4-with-glass

 

 

I keep wondering if I will open a bottle of Locations and not be impressed. Dave Phinney seems to be the Derek Jeter of wine: always on top of his game, rock solid in his delivery, and seemingly never out of surprises.

More Locations Wines to come. Stay tuned!

 

à votre santé!

 

%d bloggers like this: