Portugal, Much More than Port, Thursday March 19, 2015

Portugal… this is where I began my wine journey. I was in University when I was introduced to Portuguese wines by the original Wine Shop  on 17th. Since then my knowledge has increased, however my love for Portuguese still wines remains, so when Eric couldn’t conduct this tasting as planned, I was more than happy to jump in to have a chance to talk about Portugal.
My most difficult task was to narrow down what wines to taste.  I was looking for good scores, wines that had a story, regional differences and wines that I love. Portuguese wines are very true to themselves. The Portuguese still  use indigenous grape varietals which I find so intriguing. They have not bought into the idea of pulling out 80 year old Baga grapes in the vineyards  to plant international varietals. They stay true to their roots and vines.  I love that.
The value is here. The wines all showed beautifully and were all well accepted and enjoyed.

There was a good spread of favorites and not one wine was the clear winner.  We narrowed it down to the following:
1. Quinta do Crasto Douro Reserva 2010
2. Tied* Casa De Oleiros Vinho Verde NV with Fonseca Hexagon 2007 Touriga Nacional Setubal

And Miss Congeniality – Fonseca Moscatel De Setubal 20 Year Dessert Wine – there was not one person who didn’t enjoy and appreciate this wine. A very special treat.

The wines complemented the cheese and charcuterie boards from Peasant Cheese Shop.
Overall we learned about the regional differences as well as enjoying the experience. Everyone went home happy and full.  Thank You

Food pairings from Peasant Cheese Shop

The Wines:

1. Casa De Oleiros Vinho Verde NV Vinho Verde $20.99
A fresh, pretty white wine. This example of Portugal’s famous Vinho Verde comes from a fifth-generation winery dedicated to preserving ancient traditions. According to the winery team, the label is inspired by Valentine handkerchiefs, embroidered by the region’s young women. “These embroidered handkerchiefs depicted verse, drawings and some patterns symbolizing longing, absence and memory.” A lovely story and a lovely white wine to share with someone special!

2. Carm Rosé 2013 Douro $19.99
A rosé that makes us blush with pleasure! Just look at that gorgeous color. This blend of Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz and Touriga Franca is light pink, with wonderful fruity flavours of watermelon and strawberry. Super-easy to drink and so easy on the pocketbook!

3. Wine & Soul Guru Douro White 2011 $65.99
91 points Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate!  “The 2011 Guru is the winery’s old vines (50 years) Branco, a blend of Rabigato, Viosinho, Codega do Larinho and Gouveio. With modest and gorgeously integrated oak aging, this has a velvety and caressing texture, delicious fruit and absolute harmony. I have always liked Guru, but this may well be the winery’s best yet. It is very suave and appealing. Yet, as it airs and warms, it also shows some grip on the finish.”

4. Fonseca Jose de Sousa 2011 Alentejo  Aragonez $17.99
Almost 180 year’s old, but still young at heart. Jose Maria de Fonseca has been owned by the same family for a very long time. They thrive on innovation combining the latest techniques with tradition such as the clay pots used for a portion of the fermentation! A blend of Aragonez, Grand Noir and Tricadeira, this red is fruity with hints of dates tobacco, spice and vanilla. Serve with game or cheese.

5. Quinta do Crasto Douro Reserva 2010 $52.99
A beautiful red from one of Portugal’s top producers — and 92 points from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate!  “The 2010 Reserva Old Vines is Crasto’s familiar old vines bottling (70 years of age on average), tank fermented and then aged for 16 months in a mixture of French (85%) and American (15%) oak. This is, not to sound like a broken record, another nice example of Crasto’s success in this vintage. …It is quite lovely, focused, elegant and juicy, with fine depth for the level and the vintage and a lingering finish. It has some restraint this year, but it shows beautiful harmony and finesse, while still retaining a real backbone. Its texture is caressing.” As the name suggests, this wine is made from old vines with an average age of 70 years, including as many as 30 different grape varieties. It shows a complex aroma, with the fruit and the oak very well integrated and revealing spicy nuances. Intense and deep on the palate. The firm tannic structure gives great balance to the wine, with a long and lingering finish. This wine pairs very well with rich red meat or game dishes.

6. Fonseca Hexagon 2007 Touriga Nacional Setubal $58.99
89 points from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate! The review: “The 2007 Hexagon is listed as being six sided – with six grapes. Aged for 12 months in new French oak, it is a blend of Touriga Nacional (32%), Touriga Franca (24%), Syrah (18%), Trincadeira (15%), Tinto Cao (6%) and Tannat (5%). This is the guilty pleasure that many will no doubt find hard to resist. It is probably the best vintage of Hexagon I’ve seen, but I’m going to be conservative until we see how it comes along in the cellar. Sweet and soft, with a hint of richness, it eventually unfolds to reveal that it is has some structure and some ability to age as well. Fruity, but well defined, this has hints of being earnest, but mostly it is just plain delicious.”

7. Ferreirinha Quinta da Leda 2008  Douro Tinta Roriz $51.99
91 points from Wine Spectator for the 2008 vintage of this beautiful Portuguese blend! The review: “Dense and lithe, with lots of rich, concentrated flavors of dark plum, currant, slate and mineral. Open-textured, with chewy chocolate and mocha notes that linger on the finish.”

8. Caves Messias Barraida Classico 2010 Bairrada Baga $45.99
A beautiful red wine made from indigenous Portuguese grapes, aged in barrels for 36 months before bottling! Intense ruby colour. Atlantic characteristic wine, where balsamic nuances of resin and cedars get involved with iodine and salted sensations. Huge structure and great potential for ageing…. Viticulture in Portugal’s Bairrada region has been existed for more than 1,000 years. Located close to the Atlantic Coast, the region is renowned for its richly hued, high-tannin reds, such as this beauty.

9. Fonseca Moscatel De Setubal 20 Year Dessert Wine  Moscatel $45.99
92 points from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate! The review says it all: “The Moscatel Alambre 20 Years is Fonseca’s fortified blend of vintages. Think of it as a NV Tawny Port, except it’s not Port, it’s all Moscatel and it isn’t from Douro. The name “Alambre” was from the estate where Fonseca first planted Moscatel long ago. This version, bottled in 2013 (check the back label for the tiny print), is a blend of 14 vintages, Domingos Soares Franco told me, ranging from 20 years old (the youngest) to 80 years old (the oldest). Opening with beautiful, mature flavors, complex and vibrant, this is laced with molasses, caramel and a hint of treacle. Of medium depth for the type, it remains persistent and lovely, the flavors lingering on the palate.”

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