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Showing posts with label Portugal. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Portugal. Show all posts

20 May 2021

Miscellaneous wines of the moment

An enticing half-a-dozen of whites, red and rosés sourced from big supermarkets and one-store independents priced £7 to £10 in the UK.

Vara Rosé 2020 Cramele Recas Estate, Romania (12% abv) - Good-value dry and zingy rosé made from 65% Merlot and 35% Feteasca Neagra, which develops creamy straw-raspberry flavours followed by crisper cranberry type crunchiness. £7 Marks & Spencer (image from their site). Versatile with food.

11 July 2018

Portugal: 'wines of the moment' (and restaurant tips in Funchal).

Or Portuguese 'holiday wines of the moment' since these recommendable bottles were sampled and enjoyed recently on the wonderful island of Madeira (a separate piece on two Madeira cellars is here), enhanced by a few eating-out tips where some of them were discovered. These are all convincing examples of just how happening Portugal now is on several different levels: well-made flavoursome wines, across the red white and rosé spectrum, fantastic diversity including many excellent (although sometimes difficult to get your tongue around pronunciation-wise) indigenous grape varieties and, to crown off the clichés, often good value too! 

19 June 2016

Portugal: 'wines of the moment'

Quinta de la Rosa

Douro Valley

Quinta de Fafide Reserva 2013 (Tinta Roriz, Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional, 14% abv) - Fairly serious and concentrated, towards 'modern style' red with ripe berries and spice, firm but nicely textured tannins with a touch of oak. Marks & Spencer £10...

20 July 2015

Douro Valley: Quinta de la Rosa, Pinhão

Quinta de la Rosa (above) is well-known for its Vintage Ports - I bought a half-bottle of their 2009 for €15 when I went there at the end of June by the way (update: click here to see my review of this delicious fortified red) - and sublime old Tawnies. They also make red, white and rosé Douro wines, like everybody else in this region nowadays; and I was quite impressed by this tasty dry white quaffed that evening, nicely chilled of course:

Port: Pinhão, Douro Valley

Vineyards around Pinhão on a 'steep' theme.
Photos by RMJ.

19 July 2015

Port & Douro Valley: Quevedo

I talked to smiley Oscar Quevedo (right) and tasted some of the Quevedo family's Ports in their wine tasting cellar cum shop in Vila Nova de Gaia in late June, which is quietly tucked away behind Ramos Pinto and the other side of the pretty Santa Marinha church from Sandeman's. They have six vineyards totalling about 100 hectares:

Portugal: Port and railway theme

Top: railway bridge in Pinhão, Douro Valley. One down: barrels in Pinhão station for when the loo's closed. Next down: the station as photo'ed by everybody ever. Bottom: Porto São Bento station.

23 August 2014

Portugal: Bairrada, Dão, Douro - new winery profiles and updates on Aliança, Portal and Romeu

Fully updated profiles on Quinta do Portal and Aliança Vinhos de Portugal with their latest ranges reviewed (including a Portal Vintage Port retrospective featuring vintages from 1995 to 2000...), can be found in my new special Portugal report (click there for more info and to buy for just £2.50 or free if you subscribe for £10 a year). Includes RMJ's complete run-down on these wineries and several new wines. There's also a summary on my Portugal archive page HERE (scroll down).

From quintadoromeu.com
Quinta do Romeu – Douro Valley
A taster:
"The Menéres family estate was established in 1874, and the company is now run by João Pedro Menéres, José Clemente Menéres and Manuel Menéres Sampaio... "... We do not use any chemicals in our farming,” their site goes on in that glib manner. Ahh! That's the one thing that annoys me most about organic producers..." The complete rant, profile, reviews of the tasty wines below and where to get them can be found in my new special Portugal report (click there for more info and to buy or subscribe).

2013 Rosé (Tinta Cão, Tinta Roriz, Touriga Nacional – tank sample at the time) – yeast-lees notes, nice gummy zippy mouth-feel with fresh and gentle red fruit finish. Expensive though (in the UK anyway): £10.99. €6.25 cellar door.
2011 Moinho do Gato red (Tinta Barroca, Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz) – attractive soft fruity style with peppery touches, has a bit of grip vs juicy fruit on the finish. £8.99, $15. €4.50 cellar door.
2010 Quinta do Romeu red (Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz, Sousão) – aromatic floral red/blue berry fruits, nice soft fruity palate with light tannins and fresh acidity too; very attractive red drinking now. £10.85, $19. €6.25 cellar door.
2010 Reserva red (“field blend picked and fermented together with some oak ageing,” mostly Touriga Nacional with Touriga Franca and Sousão) – touch of coco oak and more structured vs still plenty of that nice juicy fruit, firmer finish yet well rounded too. £14.99, $27. €10.50 cellar door.

16 August 2014

Portugal: Lisboa wine focus

"Stretching out to the north and west of energetic Lisbon, this big wine-producing region used to be called Estremadura... renaming it 'Lisboa' seems logical (captain) thereby closely associating location and identity with the Portuguese capital... The most common grape varieties planted here are, for reds, Aragonez or Aragonês aka Tinta Roriz (isn't that often the way just to add a little charismatic confusion, and the Spanish call it Tempranillo, Tinta Fina, Cencibel...), Touriga Nacional, Castelão and Touriga Franca, with expanding plantings of Syrah and other French varieties..."
Available as a special 20-page report with pics focusing on the exciting Lisboa wine region and featuring these ten wineries and my reviews of their ranges: Vale da Capucha - Quinta de São José, Sociedade Agricola Labrugeira – Vale das Areias, Quinta de Sant'Ana, Quinta do Monte d'Oiro, Quinta de Chocapalha, Marta Vine - Azulejo (Casa Santos Lima), Félix Rocha – Quinta da Ribeira, Quinta do Pinto, Companhia das Quintas - Quinta de Pancas.
Plus three extra winery profiles in different regions: Aliança Vinhos de Portugal - Bairrada, Dão. Douro Valley: Quinta do Portal (including a Vintage Port retrospective 1995 to 2000) and Quinta do Romeu (organic)...
And two bonus retro features: Niepoort Port 'masterclass' led by Dirk Niepoort including Garrafeira, Colheita and Vintage ports spanning a century back to 1912...
And my tasty Algarve and Tavira wine and food touring article...
All yours for a mere £1.99 - this special report is published in PDF format and emailed to you once I receive confirmation of payment from PayPal (pay by card or use your own PP account, although you don't need one to do so: select it in the drop-down menu).


"Vasco da Gama Bridge and Tagus River, Lisbon" - Photo by Jose Manuel from www.imagesofportugal.com.


20 February 2014

'Wines of the mo' - Germany, S Africa, Spain, France, Portugal, Argentina

My favourites - and many of the enthusiastic attendees - from around the globe tasted on a recent Saturday 'wine workshop' I ran in Belfast, which deserve a little more airing:

Germany, Mosel: Selbach-Oster Riesling Kabinett 2006

13 August 2013

Pink Port and Amarone: a couple of "headbangers of the moment"

I don't usually recommend wines based purely on alcohol content - and I'm not really going to this time either - yet the alcohol is an intrinsic part of these two totally different wines (but 'still only' 19.5% and 16% abv respectively, so we're not talking schnapps/eau de vie here). Besides, a Sun-style headline doesn't do any harm every now and then, and helps bring a 'little theme' nicely together...
So, over to Croft Pink Port then: I first tried it over five years ago when just launched, in Barcelona of all places (links to feature on the 2008 Wine & Climate Change conference; not sure what this wine has to do with that, but maybe Croft was a sponsor...); and again in 2010 in the line-up of a special Douro Valley 'masterclass' tasting (links to post about this). If you can be bothered clicking on that, you'll see that I was trying to like it but was "... struggling... too techno... boiled sweets and bubble gum in that ester-y chemistry lab kinda way..." Well, I've sampled it again a few times recently, on its own and with different things; and I think I was being a bit mean before. I doubt the wine's changed much, if at all, winemaking or style-wise, so I must have. It was still a touch ester-y and 'nouveau' at first, but got more interesting in an ultra-fruity sweet rosé way with intriguing earthy kirsch aromas/flavours, nice zing and kick too (without being overpowering) to counteract the quite high residual sugar. Serve well chilled as a summer dessert or milk chocolate wine, or with/on fresh red berry fruits. Or a few sips with salty crisps or peanuts is also strangely quite nice... And Croft is keen on promoting it in trendy bars as a cocktail base: check out croftpink.com for some ideas, there are quite a few. I like the look of simply mixing it with Champagne, especially their 'Decadent' recipe including Pink Port, Champers, tea, lemon juice and "Absinthe soaked sugar lump." Mind you, I'd dispense with the sugar though! Anyway, in the UK, it's £11.99 for 75cl at the Co-Op, selected branches of Majestic and Selfridges, which might sound a tad dear, but this would do you for a week or so kept in the fridge and poured half a glass a go.
Back to the Amarone red finally, obviously no similarity whatsoever as a wine; though, as I said, with 16% (natural rather than added like Port) abv, it certainly 'packs a punch'. This one's full title is Tenuta Pule 2008 Amarone della Valpolicella Classico and is new to Lidl's 'wine cellar' range (£19.99 UK). The raised alcohol content comes from the grapes being dried out before fermentation, which concentrates the sugar in them while water evaporates; then they make it like a regular dry red wine (with cask ageing in this case). So, you get plenty of rich earthy cherry and damson flavours with balsamic and toasted almond (!) touches, big powerful and rounded mouth-feel with lush dark berry and spice fruit vs attractive meaty leather edges; turns gamier and more savoury after opening for a day or two, yet still retains that nice wild kirsch fruit. Went well with South African style chunky sausage (a version of Boerewors made by my local butcher with beef pork and coriander) and a slightly wacky spiced red cabbage risotto I made up as I went along!

23 October 2012

Portugal: a couple of Ports of the moment

(Updated Feb 2013).
I suppose it's that time of year, when our thoughts start turning to Port and with it Portugal's stunningly landscaped Douro Valley vineyards, where these heady wines are created, and the pretty wee city of Porto, where most of the Port ageing cellars still watch over said river as it floods out into the Atlantic. Although it's a pity we don't tend to sample it all year round, as e.g. a chocolate partner or with soft fruit desserts or mature hard cheeses (but not necessarily Stilton: not convinced about how well they go together. Try it again and you'll see what I mean...). And why don't more Port wineries sell these in half-bottles (you can find some if you look hard enough), as 75cl is too much in one go unless sharing with a few like-minded big sweet tannic red quaffers. Admittedly, the two I've picked here should keep just fine for a week or two once open (but not until next Christmas though!). Here we go then:

2007 Graham's Late Bottled Vintage Port (about £13 Tesco and Asda, £10 on offer). Grape varieties: Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz, Tinta Barroca and others. Graham's, part of the mighty Symington Family Group, is perhaps more famous for its complex elegant aged Tawny Ports (10, 20, 30, 40 year-old even...), but this  one is a very nice example of this popular 'vintage' look-alike style, which is drinking well now although should soften out a little with a few months or more in bottle. Quite powerful and lush (2007 was a very good vintage) with its 20% alcohol coming through at first, it gets smoother and finer on the finish (especially after being open for a few days) showing an enticing mix of solid dark spicy sweet fruit and tannins set against lovely maturing savoury edges.
Fonseca Bin 27 Finest Reserve (£11.99 Morrison's, Tesco) - equally attractive chunky Port, probably made from a similar blend of varieties as above, this house is now owned by the Fladgate Partnership (Taylor's, Croft). This apparently historic blend (click on their web link under the photo above to discover the story behind it) is definitely a posh Ruby, towards LBV style with plenty of rich dark plum and liquorice, firm tannins nicely balancing out the sweetness and spicy finish with lingering meaty and tobacco notes.
Added Feb 2013: Taylor's 2007 Late Bottled Vintage Port (about £13-£15 Tesco, Asda etc.) - goes to show, in line with the Graham's above, that 2007 was a lovely vintage for this fruity vs structured style of Port. Rich and tasty with dark plums, liquorice and lightly baked / meaty / leather tones, chunky firm tannins vs lush sweet fruit vs oomph and warmth. Very nice with dark chocolate-coated dates and prunes, chocolate mints and blueberries too actually.

More Port articles and winery snapshots are HERE (e.g. Niepoort, Quevedo, Dona Matilde).

03 August 2012

Portugal: the Algarve & Tavira

It's easy enough to find a reasonably priced flight into Faro airport on Portugal's bright and breezy southern coast from just about anywhere nowadays. But, instead of flocking west with the mad(ding) crowds to those built-up disco bar towns, jump on the train and head east towards the Spanish border (you wouldn't really want to stay in Faro anyway, it's a bit of a dump). The pretty old town of Tavira and places nearby offer plenty of options to keep you going for a few days of tasteful and tasty sightseeing, eating, wine sampling and Atlantic side swimming too if you must (I did indulge).
Wine-wise, the Algarve has definitely moved on in recent years especially thanks to some well-heeled investors developing new estates or replanting virtually abandoned vineyards. My Portugal archive page features a review of Quinta dos Vales and some of their wines, a winery and leisure resort found in a wee place called Estombar between Portimão and Lagoa (which isn't actually in the Tavira area but to the west of Albufeira...) And Cliff Richard's fairly high-profile wine estate Quinta do Moinho (goes to website) - or Adega do Cantor ("the singer's cellar"), Quinta do Miradouro or simply Vida Nova ("New Life") as the wines are better known - is also in the Albufeira area up in the hills. Vines were planted here in the late 90s, and resident Portuguese Australian David Baverstock oversees the winemaking. I bought a bottle of their 2008 Tinto in the airport for €7.50 (it's cheaper in supermarkets, but I only had hand-luggage and you know the fascist security drill...), which is made from Syrah and Aragonez (called Tinta Roriz elsewhere in Portugal, it's the same as or a close clone of Spain's Tempranillo) in an attractive fruity chunky style.
Back to Tavira (well, physically at least as this wine is also from the Albufeira hills), we ordered a cracking bottle of full-on dry rosé, Barranco 2011 from Quinta do Barranco Longo (quintadobarrancolongo.com currently "under construction") for €12, in a nice little restaurant called Brisa do Rio (brisadorio.web.pt: "ditto"). Deep-coloured, very fruity, crisp and lively, it was a great match for tasty well-cooked sword fish and tuna steaks. The wine, bottled water, those two fish mains and two lovely puds came to €42, by the way (including a fairly common €1 per person cover charge, although you get breads, dips and olives for this here). For a simpler place serving huge portions of very reasonably priced steaks or pork dishes, look no further than Cais da Ponte (it does look across to the elevated new road bridge straddling both sides of Tavira). A local restaurant for local people - not much English spoken but who cares - with limited yet inexpensive wine selection.
Outside of Algarve wines, the neighbouring Alentejo region (to the north) features prominently on all wine lists I came across (mostly reds such as Esporão's well-known Monte Velho brand), usually closely followed by some good Vinho Verde dry whites. You wouldn't have thought it very likely to enjoy a few top notch Argentinean reds around these parts, but you can at wine and tapas bar Malbec y Vos (the owner's from down under, so to speak: facebook.com/Malbecyvos). I didn't - we did sensible lunch with water on this occasion - but chose four tapas "clasicas" (€1.50 each) and four tapas "especiales" (€2.50 each) including a mix of tortilla and another spud dish ("grandma style" I think it said on the menu?), imaginatively cooked vegetables, and nibbles of fishy and meaty things. Some of them were very nice, some were fine although a bit slight. Two serious espressos to finish with weighed in at a bargain €1.20 (for both I mean). Coffee is cheap in Portugal - you'd be lucky to get one for that price in France; we paid just €1 for a large cup in a breakfast and snack café called Pastelaria Ramos (opposite a miniature park by the river on the old old town side), which does e.g. good egg dishes and delicious homemade pastries.
In terms of wine touring in the Tavira area, there's only one winery I could find (you do see scattered patches of vines either side of the town from the train, which could be for personal production I guess) a couple of kilometres down the coast near Luz de Tavira: Quinta dos Correias (yet another "not ready yet" site!) run by Ricardo Silva e Sousa. You'll have to take a rain check on this one though, as I didn't make it there this time but did try one of their reds in a restaurant or somewhere (fairly sure but didn't make a note...). As for hotels, there's the simple clean Viva Rio (€40 per double room in early Maylocated close to the centre alongside the river below Santa Maria do Castelo's church and the Palacio da Galeria. A touch sparse perhaps but you do get a large patio out back: don't bother with the "river view" rooms at the front, as you don't get this or a balcony and the road outside is busy. For more all mod cons and a swimming pool, and not much more money (€52.50, the price goes up quite a lot in high season though), try Hotel Porta Nova over the river and up the hill. Breakfast seems dear at €8.50 per person, but there's a massive self-service spread with just about anything you'd want for brekkie, so you can fill yourself up and skip lunch.
Tavira has numerous picturesque old churches and chapels, bridges and city walls to help you stretch your legs. It's slightly complicated if you want to swim in the sea here, as the town is set on one of the salt-flat lagoons that characterize this part of the Algarve coastline; you have to walk a fair way or get a bus to where a ferry takes you across to the seaside, if you see what I mean. Just as easy to get on the train to, say, Montegordo, which is less attractive and more built up but does have a vast swathe of sandy beach. Not too far from here is the spectacular ancient fort of Castelo de Castro Marim perched up on a hill overlooking Spain on the other side of the river. Again, you can walk there from the rail station, although it's a good trek along a pavement-free main road; or hire a bike.
More Algarve and Portugal posts and features HERE.

Go on a luxury Mediterranean Cruise to Portugal!

03 October 2011

Portugal: Quinta da Falorca, Dão

This pretty 13 hectare estate lurks in the increasingly hot Dão region about 10 miles from the historic town of Viseu, lining the somewhat inclined banks of the Dão river itself. There are four Quintas or vineyards actually – Vale das Escadinhas (perhaps the best-known one), Barreiro, Esmoitada and Falorca – where vines are kept company by olive, nut and pine trees. I'm told Quinta Vale das Escadinhas goes back a long long way and was founded by the Costa Barros de Figueiredo family. More info @ qve.pt or on London wine merchant Armit's site, who had these flavoursome little Portuguese numbers at their recent tasting. Mind you, they're on the dear side though...

2010 rosé (Touriga Nacional, 13.5% alc.) - big fruity rosé style with boiled sweet notes, dried red fruits vs tangier redcurrant and Morello cherry edges; good but expensive. £12
2010 white (Encruzado and Malvasia, 13% alc.) - juicy with light yeast-lees notes, banana vs green fruit combo, bit of oomph too vs crisp, full tasty and long finish. £14
2004 Reserva red (Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz, Alfrocheiro Preto, Tinta Pinheira, Jaen; 14.5% alc.) - rich smoky black cherry, chocolate, liquorice and pepper aromas / flavours; chunky and grippy vs attractive dried fruits and complex smoky maturing finish. £20
2006 E-Falorca red (Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz, Alfrocheiro Preto, Tinta Pinheira, Jaen; 14.5%) - smoky nose with sweet dark berries vs herby peppery tones, punchy and firm vs developing nice sweet fruit edges vs still very lively. £11

Lots more Portugal here.

12 August 2010

Douro, Alentejo, Algarve and beyond...

New on WineWriting.com! Focus on Portugal with over 50 smouldering Atlantic wines reviewed including a "Douro masterclass" and eight featured producers from the Douro, Alentejo, Algarve and Vinho Verde... My best wines at a glance: Crasto, Favaios, Graham's, Duorum, Lagos, Outeiro Mouro, São Miguel, Quevedo, Dona Matilde. Also have a look at my "winery snapshots" page for more detailed Portuguese "profiles"... Photo = storks from herdadesaomiguel.com

15 March 2008

02 February 2007

Portugal: Caves Aliança

Profile and tasting notes are here (Portugal archive page, scroll down)...

01 January 2005

Portugal: Cortes de Cima wines & olive oil

Cortes de Cima olive oil
from www.cortesdecima.pt
Many Mediterranean wine estates also produce high quality olive oils. Cortes de Cima, found in Vidigueira in Portugal's sweeping Alentejo region, released this delicious olive oil at the end of 2004: see notes below. Plus a handful of their red wines tasted on various occasions; and they also grow and make rather nice kiln-dried tomatoes by the way...
2003 Azeite Virgem Extra - made from Cobrancosa olives, cold pressed and unfiltered. Deliciously fresh, herby and nutty with zingy green fruit; lighter, tarter (acidity is 0.2% if that means anything to you) and more elegant than other Portuguese olive oils I've tried, which can be quite earthy and rich, I like the delicate fruitiness of this one. Tasted 2004-2005. 90
Another great olive oil producer: Chateau de Caladroy in the Roussillon.

Originally archived under Previous wines of the moment: tasted December 2003 - January 2004
2001 Cortes de Cima Reserva Alentejo DOC (Aragones Syrah/Shiraz) - Pretty serious wine showing nice mix of chunky smoky fruit, light oak overtones and full rounded palate; good power and length. 90
2002 Cortes de Cima Incógnito (15% Syrah/Shiraz) - Similar to the Syrah but more concentrated and greater depth of spicy black cherry fruit, chocolate oak backdrop and powerful finish; the alcohol's a bit heavy but this is still good stuff with hearty food. The name comes from the fact that, when they first made this wine, Syrah wasn't officially permitted so they didn't reveal the variety on the label. 88
2002 Cortes de Cima Syrah (14%) - Appealing nose of very ripe black cherries / berries with peppery notes, creamy currant palate, quite full and alcoholic but shows fair depth of nice sweet fruit too; tannins add texture and dryness but are supple and forward. Not so complex yet has a bit of bite and length, drinking now but should improve up to one year in bottle. 87

Lots more Portugal here.

01 November 2002

Feature on Portugal, Off Licence News

It's HERE actually (Portugal archive page, towards the bottom of the page)...


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Header image: Château de Flandry, Limoux, Languedoc. Background: Vineyard near Terrats in Les Aspres, Roussillon.