Unique Grapes and Unique Portuguese Wines

Are you tired of drinking Cabernet Sauvignon or Chardonnay from around the world?  Are you excited by trying a wine from a grape that you have never heard of before?  If you said YES, then you should be trying the wines from Portugal.  It has over 250 different indigenous grape varieties and produces some very flavourful wines.  Plus the wines tend to be priced very aggressively.

A few of the Portuguese grapes you may read on a wine label are:

  • Alvarinho grape
    Alvarinho grape (Courtesy of http://www.winesofportugal.info/pagina.php?codNode=1089)

    Alvarinho – a white grape that produces a rich wine with peaches and citrus flavours, and sometimes tropical fruits and flowers.

  • Arinto – a white grape that produces elegant, lemon and apple flavoured wines.
  • Encruzado – a white grape that produces a full-bodied wine with floral and citrus aromas.
  • Fernao Pires – a white grape that produces a light, fruity, fragrant wine with some Muscat flavour (orange and floral).
  • Tinta Roriz – a red grape that produces wines with aromas of red fruits, plums and blackberries, and has firm tannins for good ageing potential.
  • Touriga Franca – a red grape that produces a deeply coloured, rich, aromatic red wine with floral and blackberry fruit aromas and flavours.
  • Touriga Nacional – a red grape that produces a deeply coloured, rich red with flavours and aromas of violets, liquorice, black currants and raspberries.
  • Tinta Amarela – a red grape that makes wines with bright raspberry fruit, and has spicy and herbal flavours.

Touriga Nacional, Tinta Amarela, and Touriga Franca are 3 of the red grape varieties that go into Port wine production, so this can help give you an idea of some of the flavours that would you get if you buy a table wine with these grapes.

The Wines of Portugal were recently in Vancouver with several wineries in tow, pouring us their wines to try, and hopefully import to Vancouver.  Below are a few of the wines that caught my attention.  With spring here and moving into summer weather here, I tried to taste more white wines than red. Enjoy!

Recommended White Wines

  • Bacalhoa JP Azeitao White 2013 – (Available in BC) from the Fernao Pires and Moscatel de Setubal grapes.  This wine has a light orange, Muscat nose.  Soft, dry, with low acidity.  Light orangy flavour.  Easy to drink.
  • Alves de Sousa Reserva Pessoal 2005 – a blend of Malvasia Fina, Gouveio, and Viosinho. Deeper peach skin colour in the glass. Nice aromas of dried stone fruits and honey.  Dry, low acidity, soft mouth feel.  Dried stone fruits and spice on the palate.  Balanced finesse.
  • Aveleda Alvarinho 2013 – (Available in BC) from the Alvarinho grape. Light honeysuckle nose. Light body, medium acidity, soft mouth feel.  Citrus, flowers, and tropical fruit flavours.
  • Casa de Cello Quinta de Sanjoanne Superior 2012 – a Vino Verde produced with the Alvarinho and Malvasia Fina grapes.  Light orange aroma.  Dry and soft with lower level of acidity.  Light intensity flavours of oranges and flowers on the palate.
  • Casa de Mouraz / Antonio Lopes Ribeiro Wines ALR 2011 – This winery uses organic and biodynamic methods in their vineyards.  The wine is a Vino Verde made with Loureiro, Trajadura, and Azul grapes.  Nice aromatic nose of sweet ripe stone fruit. Dry with higher acidity.  Stone fruit and mineral on the palate.
  • Casal Branco Terra de Lobos 2013 – made from the Fernao Pires and Sauvignon Blanc grapes. NIce white flowers and citrus aromas.  Higher acidity with tropical fruit and banana flavours.  A bit of an acidic bite to this wine.
  • Esporao Reserva Branco 2012 – (Available in BC) made from the Arinto, Roupeiro and Antao Vaz grapes.  Light vanilla and stone fruit on the nose. Medium body, soft, with medium acidity.  Tropical fruit and vanilla, followed by some sweet spice on the finish. Elegant.
Casal Branco Terra de Lobos 2013
Casal Branco Terra de Lobos 2013
Aveleda Alvarinho and Quinta da Aveleda Vinho Verde
Aveleda Alvarinho and Quinta da Aveleda Vinho Verde

Recommended Red Wines

  • Campolargo Rol de Coisas Antigas 2010 – (Available in BC) a blend of 7 different indigenous grapes.  Ripe cherry nose.  Medium body, dry with red fruits and raspberries on the palate, together with some nice minerality.  Dry finish, but not tannic.
  • Campolargo Pinot Noir 2009 – (Available in BC) Here is one wine made with non-indigenous grapes, Pinot Noir.  It had an earthy, cherry nose.  Medium plus body, soft and dry, with apples and red cherry flavours, together with a mineral streak.  Soft tannins. Very nice.
  • Casal Branco Falcoaria Classico 2012 – Flowery, purple fruit nose.  Dry and soft mouth feel with ripe dark fruit, sweet spices and minerality, followed up with some vanilla on the mid palate. Nice.  This winery produced several red wines I really liked.
  • Symington Family Estates Chryseia 2008 – (Available in BC) Red fruit and a hint of vanilla on the nose.  Full body, with ripe dark fruit and cherry flavours, together with some vanilla.  It has tannic structure to keep the wine together. Dry finish.
  • Symington Family Estates Vale do Bomfim 2009 – (Available in BC) Red currant aroma in the glass.  Red juicy currants, cassis, and ripe cherry flavours.  Dry with medium body and softer tannins.
  • Terra d’Alter Touriga Nacional 2012 – Bright cherries, red fruits and vanilla on the nose. Dry, medium body, with a light mouth feel.  Bright cherry and spice up front followed by dark fruit flavour later on.
Casal Branco Falcoaria Classico and Reserva
Casal Branco Falcoaria Classico and Reserva
Campolargo Pinot Noir 2009
Campolargo Pinot Noir 2009
Terra d' Alter Touriga Nacional 2012
Terra d’ Alter Touriga Nacional 2012


Recommended Ports

Yes there was also port to try at this Trade tasting.  After tasting through many white and red wines, I finished with a few ports. The following two ports were made with the Tinta Roriz, Touriga Nacional, Tinto Cao, and Tinta Amarela grapes.

  • C. Da Silva Dalva Porto Vintage 2011 – Dark cherries and raspberries on the nose. Soft in the mouth, medium sweetness, and has some tannic structure. More raspberries on the palate and followed by a spicy finish.
  • C. Da Silva Dalva Porto 20 Ans – This port was done in a Tawny style, so the wine has a lighter orangy colour in the glass.  It has a maderized nose.  Full body and sweet on the palate.  This port coats your mouth.  Cherries, chocolate and oak, along with some tertiary flavours.
Dalva Porto Vintage 2011
Dalva Porto Vintage 2011
Author: mywinepal
Drink Good Wine. That is my motto and I really want to help you drink good wine. What is good wine? That can be a different thing for each people. Food also loves wine so I also cover food and wine pairings, restaurant reviews, and world travel. Enjoy life with me. MyWinePal was started by Karl Kliparchuk, WSET. I spent many years with the South World Wine Society as the President and then cellar master. I love to travel around the world, visiting wine regions and sharing my passion for food & wine with you. Come live vicariously through me, and enjoy all my recommended wines.

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