Portugal Just Keeps on Coming!

There are so many great wines in Portugal. Only one problem. We never see very many of them. But they do leak through the LCBO monopoly and on an increasingly regular basis.
Our first one in this review is Casal da Adega from the mighty Douro Valley. A producer of consistent high-quality wines known to a minority of Canadian wine drinkers who rush to the comfort of California when it comes to imported wines.
This 2014 is verging on a purplish colour. On the nose full of stern and disciplined black fruit namely black cherry and blackberry. A tad of black licorice and mocha. Stern and terribly tight on the palate like an actress on an opening night performance. Moderate tannins and a short finish. This is wine that is somewhat lost in its own seriousness. Great aromatics that just do not follow through on the palate. If I was to be generous I would say this is a young Douro that just might start accelerating by 2020 if you want to gamble you might be well rewarded. However today is today. Decant and let stand for a couple of hours.
A blend of perhaps lesser known Douro grapes; Bastardo, Tinto Cão and Tinta Barroca.
(Casal da Adega, Douro DOC 2014, Vinilourenço, Poço do Canto, Mèda, Portugal, $18.95, 13.5%. 750 mL, LCBO # 526624, Square Media Group Rating 86/100).
Another Douro wine. It is a de Romaneira 2014.Black cherry in colour. Very delicate aromatics of black cherry, raisin pie and milk chocolate. Some younger Douro wines come across as brash and big. This wine is sort of like hiding behind its mother’s coattails on the first day of school. I think its shyness continues on the palate. It shows midweight characteristics being easy on the tannins and not afraid to show its fruit mostly black fruit like blackberries, red plum and blueberries. Short finish but despite its light of foot nature it is well knit which is a pleasant surprise as I was rather expecting a wipe out given its light structure.
This is not a trophy Douro wine but a pleasant and highly drinkable one. Not a good companion for heavy meat dishes but I think an ideal companion to bacalhau. Who would ever think red wine could match a cod dish. It took a trip to Portugal to convince me what might otherwise be an odd marriage worked out well. Drink now.
The usual grape suspects except there is a dash of Syrah which in my experience is a novelty in the Douro. Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz, Touriga Franca, Tinta Cão and Syrah.
(R de Romaneira 2014, IGP Duriense, Sociedad Agrícola da Romaneira, Cotas, Portugal, $15.95, 13.5%, LCBO # 214288, Square Media Group Rating 89/100).
Yipee! A red from Alentejano with Alicante Bouschet in the mix! There is also some Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. Alentejano reds are not shy of blending with Alicante Bouschet a grape imported from France popular with Alentejano wines yet rare from whence it came.
Dark black cherry in colour. There is a rich aroma of sweet red black cherry, muscular blackberry and rippling cassis. Muscularity and power on the palate. Solid tannins give the wine its power and hold the fruits at bay. Rich blackberry and blueberry on the palate with a relatively short finish. This is a bruiser but not a bulldozer. It brings about immediate satisfaction in a simple and direct way and is most definitely a food wine. I am not sure where you will find any famous Alentejano Black Pig which is the ideal food for this wine but some spicy sausages or roast Pork Loin with a peppercorn sauce ought to do well.
I don’t think this has the tannins to be worthy of ageing. It is deep dark and powerful but mysterious but complicated no. An excellent utilitarian wine. It’s amazing what terroir can do. I can’t think of many red wines from Ontario that have such concentration and power.
(Guadalupe 2014 Winemaker’s Selection, Vinho Regional Alentejano. Quinta do Quezetal, Vila de Frades, Portugal, $15.95, 14.5%, 750 mL, LCBO # 408138, Square Media Group Rating 89/100).
Aged for 12 months in old French oak barrels. From the bleachers I’d say a killer bouquet that just can’t convert fully on the palate. If it did look out!
Let us conclude with a Douro red. The Rabelo Mosteiro 2014 is a blend of 40% Touriga Nacional, 25% Tinta Roriz, 20% Touriga Franca and 15% Tinta Cão.
Dark red cherry in colour. A very high-toned Audrey Hepburn “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” black cherry, milk chocolate, cassis and black cherry nose. By high toned I mean at the top of the scales and a bit nervous and uncertain. It is very unlike the previously reviewed Guadalupe which was more in your face.
While not highly tannic the fruit makes itself known on the mouth. Rich mocha, black cherry, blackberry with a slightly sour twist and a twist of Portuguese roasted almonds. Many fruits we eat are sweet yet have this sour twist. Understated and tricky finish that shouts out elegance.
As my very good late deceased Portuguese diplomatic friend often loved to say, “It’s a bit complicated” I will resurrect that phrase in his memory for this wine. Stellar aromas and a complicated finish that requires utmost attention.
This is a winner for those who can appreciate a less than in your face wine but have the patience to savour a Douro beauty. Terrific aromatics with a complicated finish that will have you smiling. Enough power to handle beef, goat and lamb or a mushroom ragout steeped in a rich red wine sauce served over polenta. Get as many mushrooms as you can and sauté them with garlic and onions and then throw them in with a half bottle of red wine while you put two cups of cornmeal with 5 cups of homo milk which you must stir continuously to create your polenta.
(Rabelo Mosteiro Douro, D.O.C 2014., Quinta Sabrosa, Sabrosa,Portugal,14%, 750 mL, $22.95, LCBO # 523571, 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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