Monday, February 9, 2009

WINE - Portugal

Recently I was privileged to take part in a small trade and media tasting of Portuguese wines at the Blue Water cafe in Vancouver. It was an informative event and great to try a series of Portuguese reds and white paired up with a west coast twist on Portuguese food.

In a nutshell - Portugal has 11 geographical wine regions and 29 designation of origin "denominacoes de origem" of high quality wines with approximately 500,000 acres of vine under cultivation. What makes Portugal fascinating is its preponderance of indigenous varietals that are extremely interesting if you're sick and tired of Cabernet, Merlot, Shiraz, or Chardonnay. Canada is the sixth largest importer of Portuguese wine and expect to see many more hit the store shelves in the near future.

Tasting notes - February 2nd 7pm

Quinta do Ameal Escolha Loureiro 2004 Vinho Verde $34.99
Yellow green with refreshing lime, flower blossoms, and subtle oak aromas. Medium-bodied, lush, and rich, not your usual Vinho Verde, with rich floral and citrus flavours. Well-balanced and good complexity. Perfect pairing with sushi or prawns. 100% Loureiro. Six months ageing & fermentation in French hogsheads.

Quinta do Vallado Reserva White 2006 Douro $20.99
Straw green with oatmeal and mineral aromas. Medium to full-bodied with crisp acidity, subtle nutty oatmeal, mineral, and vanilla notes. Good value and a perfect foil for smoked cod, salmon, or sablefish. 30% Rabigato, 35% Goveio, 22.5% Viosinho, & 12.5% Arinto. 10 months in French oak.

Alianca Quinta da Garrida 2005 Dao $17.99
Ruby red with good depth and rustic herb and olive aromas. Medium-bodied, soft tannins, and flavours of spice, pepper, liquorice, and tomato leaf. Good pairing with braised meats. Blend of Tinta Roriz, Touriga Nacional, Jaen, and Alfrocheiro. 12 months in French and American oak.

Tentacao 2005 Terras do Sado $26.95
Ruby red with spice and crushed pepper aromas. Light to medium-bodied with spice, briar, and cherry notes. Rustic styled. Nice with cheese and chaoucuterie. Made from Castelao (Periquita)

Quinta do Crasto Touriga Nacional 2005 Douro $78.50
The Rolls Royce of Douro varietals this 100%Touriga Nacional is dense ruby purple in colour with classic TN aromas of violets and orange with layers of spice, mineral, and blackcurrant. On the palate it is full-bodied, chewy with tannins for 5-8 years, and complex flavours of violets, citrus, vanilla, cigar box, and pepper. Amazing bottle in a new world style. Great on its own or with nice cut of lamb. Star of the tasting and worth the money hands down. 18 months in Frenck oak.

Quinta do Vale Dona Maria 2005 Douro Valley $49.99
A blend of 41 varietals! Ruby red with savoury herbaceous aromas. Medium to full-bodied with chewy tannins 3-5 years ageing potential, and flavours of black cherry, briar, damson plum,and savoury herbs. Aged in 70% new and 30% 1 year old French oak

Azul 2006 Bairrada $15.99
Ruby red with rustic herby and berry leaf aromas. Medium to full-bodied, good concentration of fruit, and flavours of ripe berry, spice, and tomato leaf. Good value and ideal with stews or braised meats. A blend of Baga, Tinta Roriz, and Touriga Nacional.

Esporao Reserva 2006 Alentejo $14.99
Ruby red with lovely tobacco leaf and cigar box aromas. Medium-bodied, lush, new world styled, with exotic spice, blackberry, and blackcurrant notes. Excellent value! Made from Trinadera, Aragones, and Cabernet Sauvignon. American oak ageing for 1 year.

Quinta de Chocapalha Reserva Estremadura 2004 $42.99
Ruby red with floral and black fruits. Medium-bodied, some tannins but soft and lush, with spice, plum, and oak vanillin, and hints of cointreau, violets, and briary earthy hints. 64% Touriga Nacional and 36% Tinta Roriz.

Grahams Vintage Port 2003 Douro $78.35
Ruby purple with youthful aromas of orange, flowers, blackberry,and fruit cake hints. Full-bodied, sweet, and full of grippy tannins, fruit cake, spice, tar, chocolate, mocha and blackberry notes. Nice now but better in 10-15 years.


  1. Nice. I've loved Portugese wines for years and am still amazed they're not more popular. I guess that leaves more for wine geeks like us to drink.

  2. Love it Stephen - and love your blog overall! I'll be back.
    PS - Portugal rocks... see you on the 23rd for 35 wineries proving this to be true - Four Seasons Hotel - trade only.