Getting Ready For Winter with Some Portuguese Reds

Robert K. Stephen (CSW)

Winter will be coming shortly and the only thing I can think of that gives me hope of getting through these upcoming weeks is some cross-country skiing and blast of Portuguese sunshine contained in its wines. Not that Portuguese wines are not suited for summer but their reds take the chill out of our miserable Canadian winter. And this winter may be nasty. I should be golfing but I will be clearing a path of slush on the street to the nearest storm sewer. I can see transformers blowing up down the street due to the 48 hours of ice rain.

The leading Portuguese reds are from the Douro Valley but nipping at their heels are the wines from the Alentejano and Lisbon area.

Douro Valley is both magnificent visually but about the same adjectives can be used for its Port wine and red table wines.

We have a Parcelas 2014 Douro to try. I will admit I have been covering Douro wines for 5 years and still encounter newbies! Rather typical black cherry colour. Restrained black fruit on the nose very typical for Douro reds particularly in their infancy.

On the nose really uptight black fruit not giving much of its identify to you. This is typical of many Douro reds as after 4 or 5 years in the bottle they are still street thugs being brash and shrill. Give a well-made Douro red and at a decade in the bottle they show a Judy Garland exuberance and a Nicole Kidman beauty.

On the palate it is about as exciting as the Singing Nun but potential to be a Bridget Bardot! So typical of many Douro reds where often a decade in the bottle is required to soften to a seductive state. Patience my friend and a good cellar. Totally tight black fruit held back in a militaristic fashion. I would venture to say buy this by the case and wait a decade to start opening it. Really old school Douro. Tough bully when released but with the proper ageing a sweet puppy. In today’s world of immediate ageability a refreshing break as to how many Bordeaux wines were made in years past. Age, age and age! Give this until 2025 before it relaxes into total seduction.

Made primarily from Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca and Sousáo. Obscene value for anyone with a cellar!

(Parcelas Douro 2014, Douro DOC, Quinta de Porŕais, Portugal,14%. $14.85,750 mL, LCBO # 397422, Square Media Group Rating 89/100).

If I could sum up wines from the Alentejano region in Portugal it would be “warm and smooth”. This São Miguel Dos Enologos 2015 is a blend of Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca and my beloved Alicante Bouschet.

On the nose loganberry jam, black cherry, coconut and blackberry. On the palate some substantial tannins. A rather surprising juicy finish. Some almost dusty strawberry and cherry on the palate. Short finish and the wine lacks concentration on the finish.

Pleasant but lightweight. Pair with cured meats and semi soft Portuguese goat cheese. This is a foodie wine.

Consume now.

(São Miguel Escolha Dos Enologos 2015, Vinho Regional Alentejano, Casa Agricola Alexandre Relvas, Portugal, $22.95, 14.5%, 750 mL, LCBO # 445122, Square Media Group Rating 85/100).

The Douro struts its stuff with a Fonte da Loba 2015 being a blend of Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca and Tinta Roriz. Garnet coloured.

On the nose a strong cavalcade of black cherry, blackberry, blueberry and red plum.

On the palate it goes down the hatch very smoothly. Subtle tannins. And what you get on the nose you get on the palate although to a lesser extent. Short finish with a tiny hint of raspberry. Would be good with a black bean and corn soup or with the very traditional Portuguese bacalhau.

Can hang around until 2020 but as the tannins are pooped out I can’t see much improvement with age. This is a Douro “light” and I think it would make a good sipping wine.

(Fonte da Loba, 2015, DOC Douro, Carregosa Vinhos, Portugal, $14.95, 13%,750 mL, LCBO # 532283, Square Media Group Rating 86/100).

My goodness the Periquita label has been around for as long as I can remember. This 2015 Reserva has a black cherry colour.

On the aroma side sweet red cherry, cranberry and raspberry. It almost has a creamy note to it.

On the palate it goes down very smoothly with light notes of raspberries, strawberries and a wisp of Portuguese roasted almonds. Short and well balanced fruity finish. Drink before end of 2018.

This is a very simple but delicious wine great for sipping or with light tomato pasta sauces Might also fare well with ribs or chicken layered in well cooked in BBQ sauce.

(Periquita Reserva 2015, Vinho Regional Península de Sebútal, $15.95, 13%, 750 mL. José Maria da Fonseca, Azietáo, Portugal, LCBO # 48807, Square Media Group Rating, 86/100).

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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