June 17, 2019

When we visited Casa Relvas, in the heartland of the Alentejo, earlier this spring, we tasted a light rosé under their Herdade de São Miguel label. To go with our festa-driven sardine fest this past weekend, we picked up another, heartier rosé from the herdade, the 2018 Insólito.

What makes the difference between the two? The addition of the Castelão grape, for one. Often used in wines of Alentejo and Palmela regions, this dark grape lends its rich coloring to the finished wine, which shows loads of strawberries on the nose and palate. It’s off-dry, with a deep salmon color–just the trick to stand up to the marvelously plump grilled sardinhas of Lisboa in June.

Vintage & Producer: 2018 Casa Relvas

From: VR Alentejano

Style: Rich, off-dry rosé

Varieties: Aragonez, Castelão, and Touriga Nacional

Price: €6 at the local supermercado

June 10, 2019

Cooking up some sardines or ribs or bifes on the grill for Portugal Day? We had an easy red wine from VR Alentejano a couple of weeks ago that will go really well with most anything you sear over fire in honor of the June 10th holiday. The Ardila Tinto 2017, made by Herdade dos Arrochais, is a blend of Alicante Bouschet, Alfrocheiro, Aragonez, and Trincadeira, mostly classic grapes of the region.

As you might guess from those varieties, it’s an intense purple color, with a nose full of blackberry fruit. There’s more juicy, young purple fruits on the palate, with dark cherries too. It has soft tannins, and a soft back end when opened, but it starts to improve as it breathes in a bit.

Vintage & Producer: 2017 Herdade dos Arrochais

From: VR Alentejano

Style: Young, fruity red

Varieties: Alicante Bouschet, Alfrocheiro, Aragonez, and Trincadeira

Price: About €5 in the local supermercado

June 3, 2019

When we brought the bottle of Lago Cerqueira Sauvignon Blanc 2017 to the checkout at the Atlántico supermercado in Colares a few days ago, the young man behind the counter complimented us on the choice–“It’s wonderful!” he said. After enjoying it and comparing its style to that of other Sauvignon Blancs we’ve tasted worldwide, we can now agree.

It’s a new offering from Calçada Wines, based in the Vinho Verde DOC. Because the variety is not a recognized DOC casta, it carries the VR Minho label. But its pale lemon yellow color and aromas of gooseberry and elderflower mark it instantly as a true representation of the grape. With more white flowers on the palate, plus lime leaves and a lemon squeeze, it’s a refreshing, crisp white to enjoy with oysters or other mariscos.

Vintage & Producer: 2017 Calçada Wines

From: VR Minho

Style: Crisp, citrusy white

Variety: Sauvignon Blanc

Price: about €5 at the local supermercado

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