Tag Archives: Portugal

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!!

Blandy’s 10 Year Old Malmsey Madeira

18 Jul

Blandy’s ‘Malmsy’ 10 Year Old Rich Madeira; Island of Madeira, Portugal. 19% ABV; MSRP $29/500ml Bottle.

 

Have you ever had a madeira? If not, you should not wait any longer. It is time, my friend. Time to experience a vast, complex palate of flavors that will excite your senses.

“What? Seriously? What can be that good? I mean, what do you think you are, Hamilton? No. People pay CRAZY money to see that show… can it really be that good?”

<Smack>  (beat)

The World Turned UpSide Down! 

 

I went through three nights and multiple glasses of this gorgeous fortified wine before I had any idea how to describe the genteel beauty of this madeira, favorite drink of our nation’s forefathers. All I knew is that I wanted more. Ten years maturing in oak casks. It’s simply stunning, and a great after-dinner or after-event drink to put the perfect cap on your evening.  This gorgeous beverage doesn’t want to be defined, it wants to be enjoyed and adored.

 

Color is a deep, warm caramel; it might remind you of your favorite small batch whiskey. The nose is rich and deep of molasses and burnt orange peel. The palate is deep, complex, opulent: notes of mature caramel, toasted oak, copper, hazelnut, dried plum, and honey with succulent spices, from black tea to clove to orange zest.

 

Served either at room temperature or chilled, this fortified wine lasts indefinitely after opening- you can store it and come back to the bottle weeks later, with zero lost lustre. It is still just as mysterious, just as rich, just as luxurious.

 

Drinking this Blandy’s Malmsey 10 Year Old Madeira is like seeing Hamilton. Worth it? Every penny. Just like this Malmsey. You’ll never forget it, and you’ll want to taste it again.

 

 

 

 

When I was younger, I adored my brandy and cognac. But as I approach the end of middle-age, I find myself turning to beautiful ports, madeiras, and the Macvin from Jura- the gentler, more sophisticated, fortified wines with loads of flavor and a much lower alcohol. It’s not the alcohol (although that would allow me to enjoy more of it) it is actually the enjoyment of beautiful, articulate, and lasting flavors– just like appreciating a sunset, a brilliant meal from a great chef, a grand opera, or the company of your very closest friend.

 

I leave you with an awe-inspiring piece of art, much like this Malmsey Madeira: Hamilton’s “Yorktown” which will make you want to drink the beverage of our founding fathers- until it’s in your glass, and you will love this as you find yourself tearing up at this presentation of our forefathers in a turning point in our great history.

 

 

 

 

à votre santé!

Warre’s Warrior Reserve Port

3 May

Warre’s Warrior Finest Reserve Porto. Portugal, ABV 20%, SRP $19.

 

I have seen people dip the unlit end of their cigar into it; others will pound it back like a shot, asking for another. Some contemplate it over ice, while I prefer to sip and enjoy port wine from a brandy snifter.

Color is deep purple with violet edging. The nose offers rich, dark fruit: black plum, blackberry and dark cassis. A hint of sweet plum on the tip of the tongue, until the flavor palate shifts to a complex array of molten flavors, with a smudge of heat across the rear top palate. Features a long, deep finish, asking for more. If you have another pour, you might not have it for long. 

Known as the oldest brand of port from the oldest British Port company, Warre’s was founded in 1670 and they have been making this specific brand for over 200 years.

I don’t find it appropriate to label Warre’s Warrior port as an after-dinner drink. Yes, it pairs gorgeously with cheese, tea biscuits, and chocolate, although for the latter, I’d suggest Lindt’s dark chocolate with caramel and a touch of sea salt. The chocolate’s complexity matches the depth of the port, the orange peel widens the mouthfeel on the side palate, the sea salt softens the port’s impact and makes everything feel slightly lazier, yet more alive. On the plus side, pairing with food makes me want to enjoy a much larger glass of Warrior porto. Taking that one step further, Warre’s Warrior is 20%ABV, approximately half of a brandy, cognac or other after-dinner drink, so might be able to indulge a second glass… or a third! Getting back to my point- this is an elixir. Almost magical, this is elevates the after-dinner experience, food pairing or no.

 

I spent two full weeks of nights having a taste of this luscious delight after dinner, enjoying it thoroughly, pairing after pairing.  Perhaps the most enjoyable tasting for me was a post-dinner engagement with friends in the backyard. First we tasted a delightful sparkling wine, a vinho verde, a Napa cab, and a vintage Napa Syrah- for which, the Warrior porto felt like the obvious, perhaps even perfect, conclusion. It added finesse and elegance to the tasting, becoming an ideal completion to our evening. My neighbor Michael kept coming back to the port, like a miner adoring his prized nugget of precious gold:  “after everything else, this is the perfect finish!” he said, toasting me after another pour, as I, too, drank in the scent of the spring evening, the port from the glass, the camaraderie amongst longtime friends.

 

Perfect finish, indeed. (Time for me to place a standing order with my supplier!)

 

What’s in your glass? Let me know what you think about Warre’s Warrior!

 

 

à votre santé!

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