More Portuguese Bounty!

After about a month of Prohibition against Portuguese wines being released by the LCBO we finally get a decent Vintages release of reds and a white! There are so many tremendous wines in Portugal but we see only a handful. There are also a great many Hungarian, Romanian, Slovenian, Brazilian, Greek, Croatian producers that we will never see in a monopolistic distribution empire of the LCBO. Bust up the monopoly and let specialists operate the system and witness a flourishing of wines from areas we rarely if ever hear from. Instead the propaganda machine whirls like a phantom of Orwellian proportions creating a wine pornography and big hits of the day to keep the masses happy! It is more or less the same old safe sellers that keep appearing.
We start with a Trinca Bolotas which is a blend of the magnificent Alicante Bouschet (very often seen in the Alentejo Region), Touriga Nacional and Aragonez. It has a red plum colour and a rather firm and austere nose of red plum black cherry, licorice and fresh herbs. On the plate medium tannins, red plum, dark chocolate and acorns. A short finish.
All in all this wine is in its infancy and I’d say don’t even think of drinking it until 2020. And I would say it would keep well in the cellar into 2030. When it softens expect the fruit to liberate itself in a much less tannic and restrictive atmosphere!
This wine is a cellar dweller and a huge steal. I have aged this wine ten years in the past and have not been disappointed. The French have all but deserted their Alicante Bouschet. Thank goodness, the Alentejo producers have not repeated that mistake!
The wine pleads for to Black Pig of Alentejo that feeds off acorns and has a nutty texture. I had this wine in Portugal at The Fortaleza do Guincho at Guincho Beach with the black pig and a glass or two turned into three! Now good luck in finding the black pig in Canada but you may want to buy some pork loin chops and marinate them in finely ground roasted chestnuts, olive oil and pepper for 24 hours before grilling.
(Trinca Bolotas, D.O.C. Alentejo 2015.Sogrape, Portugal, $15.95, 14.5%, LCBO, # 431064, Square Media Group Rating, 91/100).
Wines from the Lisbon Appellation are some of the most exciting wines to come out from Portugal. This why I call them Super Lisbons. They do not hesitate to add Cabernet Sauvignon or Syrah into an indigenous mix of grapes creating a round and warm wine. In this case this is made from a field blend meaning the grapes are all planted without being separately planted often intermixed so hence you get a field blend. In simpler days grapes were simply grapes that could be used to make wine. And this one has 40 different grape varieties in it.
It has a dark ruby colour and a nose full of luscious black cherry, older big fat sweet strawberries, raspberry jam, blackberry with a hint of herbs and licorice. Tannins are initially big but fall back into the softness of the wine. On the palate subdued cherries and cherry liqueur. Firm yet soft is the best I can describe it as a full body heavyweight with a featherweight punch. Intriguing structure. Drink until 2019.This is a good sipping wine but its softness might match a long-simmered beef stew or osso bucco.
(Confidecial 2013 Reserva, Vinho Regional Lisboa, Casa Santos Lima, Portugal. $13.95, 13.5%, LCBO # 452789. Square Media Group Rating 92/100).
Wow, we are really on a roll! Next is an Altivo red from the Dão. It is ruby coloured with strong aromas of blackberry, cassis and black cherry. It has medium tannins that gently persist. Cherry liqueur, blackberry, black cherry and charcoal struggle a bit to make their presence known. A simplistic experience on the palate. Great nose, very smooth but lacking a soul. Highly drinkable now but wait until 2020 to see if further complexity develops. Well suited to homemade burgers made with ground chuck and home baked fries.
(Altivo Red 2015, D.O.C. Dão, Sociedade Agricola Boas Quintas, Mortágua, Portugal, $12.95, 13%, 750 mL, LCBO # 522292, Square Media Group Rating, 87/100).
Grape varieties were Touriga Nacional (35%), Jaen (35%) and Trincaderia (30%).
As the final red it is to the Douro a favourite haunt of mine in the past few years, I can see it developing a solid touristic infrastructure in terms of accommodation and food!
Dark ruby in colour is this Casal Da Adega. A nose full of blackberry, black cherry, mocha and a hint of bacon. Firm on the palate with its moderate tannins. Not much happening on the palate except a tad of sour cherry. Lacks character on the palate for sure. The end result is a mix of sour cherry and grippy tannins. While good with some pizza or a burger the Douro can certainly do better than this effort! The previously reviewed wines are surpassing this. The Douro is a venerable wine making region but in these tastings it has been outdone. I am not giving up on the Douro on the basis of this wine but what is happening is the Douro better watch itself with other Portuguese appellations nipping at its heels.
(Casal Da Adega, Douro D.O.C. 2014, Vinlourenço, Poço de Canto, Portugal, $18.95, 13.5%, 750 mL, LCBO # 526624, Square Media Group Rating 86/100).
Let’s finish off with a white from the Vinho Verde region. This is a Maria Papoila Eschola 2015. Light gold in color. A nose that is full of pear, apple, lime and guava. On the palate, light and inoffensive with notes of banana and lime. Vinho Verde wines often have a crisp acidity but this one seems lacking it. Might pair well with a simple roasted chicken.
There is no sense in keeping this. Drink now. To sum up a wine lacking in character. Bland.
(Maria Papoila Eschola 2015, D.O.C. Vinho Verde, Luo Cheia em Vinhos Velas, Monção, Portugal, $15.95, 750 mL, 11.5%, LCBO # 408146, Square Media Group Rating 81/100).

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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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