Douro Dynamite

(TORONTO, ON) – I think by now most readers know that the Douro region in Portugal is where Port wine is produced. Port can be both white, rosé, and red. Red Port is almost always consistently excellent. A luxury good for a discount price for the time being.

Increasingly, I have had more positive experiences with white Ports.

Canada is a big consumer of Port; ninth place by volume for 2017. For the first time this year, Portugal is the biggest consumer of Port.

The Douro also makes top quality red table wines with white wines struggling far behind.

I will be in Portugal on June 22 for an important event. You’ll be hearing about it soon, but I am sure there will be much Port and Douro table wine gushing about. Before I depart I think a farewell to Canada and hello to Portugal tasting is required.

Our first Douro is red table wine Lilás, comprised of 40% Touriga Franca, 30% Tinta Barroca, and 30% Tinta Roriz. It is highly aromatic and has a light purple colour. Black cherry, blackberry, cranberry, and cassis abound.

On the palate, moderate tannins. This is rather juicy for a Douro. Black cherry, rhubarb, schist soil, and loganberry jam. The earthy character of the wine enables a leap above cheap and cheerful.

This is not a big shot Douro red, but it is a good and inexpensive taunt. A good match for the Portuguese national dish bacalhau. Excellent with a fresh Douro salad with lots of tomatoes. Or, perhaps a Douro duck and rice casserole.

The Douro Valley is beautiful, its wines great, but under the radar is its tremendous cuisine prepared with local ingredients.

The wine is frisky and fun. I’d give it until 2020. Pop in the fridge for an hour and you have a playful red wine that just may suit a multi meat BBQ.

(Lilás 2014 DOC Douro, Carlos Lucas, Portugal, $15.95, 13%, 750mL, LCBO #525667, Square Media Group Rating 86/100)

Port may cause you to think you have some psychiatric difficulties. You may hear it shouting at your olfactory senses that it is rich and above the common wine.

Rest assured, these voices may be slightly disturbing, but they are coming from your nose and taste buds and not an imaginary character for whom you need to arrange hospital admission.

What does the Graham’s Six Grapes Reserve Port say to you? It says, “I am very rich on the nose.”

Ultra rich blackberry, cassis, black plum, and Portuguese toasted almonds. A red wine on steroids.

On the palate, deadly smooth with a hint of schist soil. But, aside from that Douro characteristic, a rich and smooth slide down the throat while trying to trick you with a 20% alcohol content.

fonseca portFull of silky black cherry, black berry, and cassis.

Perhaps not a Vintage Port, or even a Late Bottled Vintage Port, but its mission is to impress and seduce you.

A smooth, pleasurable, flavourful and very high in alcohol wine. As EU wine labels say, enjoy in moderation. Take advantage of the price and quality. Drink without food, but goes well with rare lamb and beef. Baloney to blue cheese, serve with meat.

(Graham’s Six Grapes Reserve Port, Symington Family Estates, Villa Nova de Gaia, Portugal, $23.95, 20%, 750mL, LCBO #208405, Square Media Group Rating 90/100)

In the Douro, 2011 was a Vintage Port year, meaning the Port is of exceptional quality. Late Bottled Vintage Port is a step down from Vintage Port, but its high quality and lower price often make it a steal. It’s also a great introduction to Port.

I’ll eat my shirt if a red wine lover tells me they don’t fall in love with Late Bottled Vintage Port; or LBV as it is referred to in short.

The Fonseca 2011 LBV is purplish in colour. Aromas of super concentrated black cherry, blackberry, cassis, licorice, and dark chocolate. On the palate, good acidity with mid-weight tannins.

Loads of black fruit luxuriate with a bit of peppery heat on the finish.

Superb with rack of lamb or simply as when you wish to indulge in a glass of decadence at a laughably low price.

This was bottled in 2017. Enough stuffing to improve until 2030.

(Fonseca 2011 Unfiltered Late Bottled Vintage Port,Vinhos SA, Villa nova Gaia, Portugal, $18.95, 20%, 750mL, LCBO #087551, Square Media Group Rating 93/100)

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About the Author

Robert Stephen (CSW)
Robert K Stephen writes about food and drink, travel, and lifestyle issues. He is one of the few non-national writers to be certified as a wine specialist by the Society of Wine Educators, in Washington, DC. Robert was the first associate member of the Wine Writers’ Circle of Canada. He also holds a Mindfulness Certification from the University of Leiden. Be it Spanish cured meat, dried fruit, BBQ, or recycled bamboo place mats, Robert endeavours to escape the mundane, which is why he loves The Square. His motto is, "Have Story, Will Write." Email Robert Stephen

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