Most of you probably know little about Portuguese wine other than the bottles of the slightly sweet, sparkly Mateus that were so prevalent in Canada 30 years ago. But then you moved on to the classical French varietals, like Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Well I would like to suggest you take a chance on both white and red wines from Portugal. On this evening I tried wines that are available in Canada, as well as wines that could be available in Canada if one of the agents in the crowd were to import them. I found many treasures and hope that many of the wines do find their way into the general listings of many provincial liquour boards.
As usual, I start off with white and sparkling wines, then move to the reds, and finally if my palette is still ok, try some dessert / fortified wines. One thing you will notice with all these wines is that very few are grape varietals that you will recognize. A few of the grape varietals that were present at many tables was Aragonez, Trincadeira, Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz, Alvarinho, and Arinto.
A wonderful fruity wine was the Casal Garcia Vinho Verde (C$11.49) made from the Alvarinho grape. It had a sweet spice and lychee aroma, nice acidity, and exploded in my mouth with big peach flavour. I can imagine drinking this on a hot day on the patio in the summer and enjoying some shrimp. Another white I really liked was the Branco da Gaivosa Reserva 2006 (no price, but probably around C$40), DOC Douro. This wine is made from three grapes: Malvasia Fina, Gouveio, and Arinto. This wine had a pretty, aromatic nose. Flowers and spice. It was very smooth to drink, with spice and apple flavours. It reminded me very much of apple pie with sweet spices.
On the red side there was a wide range from light to medium to full bodied wines. If you prefer a medium bodied red with some sweetness on the palette, low tannins and good fruit, I would suggest the Montes Claros Reserva 2006 from the Adega Cooperativa de Borba. But if you prefer a bigger, full bodied red then the Quinta da Garrida 2006 from Alianca may be one for you. This wine is made from Tinta Roriz and toriga Nacional. This wine was purple coloured and had nice vanilla and dark cherry aromas. It was very smooth, with the cherry and vanilla caryying on the palette. The wine finished dry. There were many more reds to try. I will try to post my reviews of all the wines in the Wine Reviews section of the MyWinePal website.
Finishing off a tasting is nice with a fortified wine. I tried two tawny ports, one Late Bottled Vintage (LBV) port and one Vintage port. Port comes from the Douro valley area of Portugal and nowhere else in the world. The Douro valley area was defined as an appellation in 1756 making it the second oldest wine appellation in the world! Tinta Barroca, Tinta Cão, Tinta Roriz Tempranillo, Touriga Francesa, and Touriga Nacional are the most common grapes that are used to produce port.
The Porto Pocas 10 year old, non-vintage tawny port, smelled like good cognac. It has a brown / tawny colour which comes from aging the wine in oak barrels before bottling. Spicy, ripe raisiny flavours, very round in the mouth and not too heavy. If you prefer a vintage port, I thoroughly enjoyed the Port Pocas Vintage 2004, made with all five of the most common port grapes. This wine was opaque purple. It had a stewed fruit nose, and flavours of flowers and layers of dark fruit. Quite sweet but with a big tannic finish. This wine could easily age several more years. Saúde.