February 26, 2018

Even in the local grocery stores you find gems, which is why we stop by places like Intermarche when we’re in different parts of the country: Case in point, this 2006 Quinta da Mata Fidalga from Bairrada DOC. At a little more than 10 years since release, we knew we took a gamble, but given our experience with the Touriga Nacional and Baga grapes (both of which can age well if handled well), we thought it worth a shot.

The result? A lovely wine at just the right moment. With a deep midnight purple color, and scent of tobacco leaf and herbs on the nose, the wine revealed its constituent grapes right away. Ten months in 350-liter oak vats lent vanillin to the blackberry syrup on the palate, and it went very well with our steak and batatas fritas, accompanying grelhos glazed with a soy-miso-lime sauce.

Vintage & Producer: 2006 Quinta da Mata Fidalga

From: Bairrada DOC

Style: Full-bodied red with perfectly aged tannins

Varieties: Touriga Nacional, Baga

Price (as acquired, Intermarche): €11

February 19, 2018

While Portugal has regions that focus on sparkling wines, a variety of producers make them in just about every DOC, including Bairrada, just south of Porto. Filipa Pato founded her own winery near Mealhada and crafts a wide palette of elegant wines, including a handful of espumante made in the Méthode Traditionelle (as champagne but not legally called such outside of the French region of that name). For a recent celebration, we selected the 3B Blanc de Blancs, so named for the two types of grapes (Baga and Bical) and the region in which they are produced–but cannot be named on the bottle because of DOC regulations.

We found the 3B a lovely wine with medium-sized bubbles and a buttered scone nose–with a hit of quince paste for fruit. On the palate, I tasted corn pudding (my Iowa roots) and more quince to balance out the yeast. Pato and her husband put on a fantastic tasting lunch, which we’ll cover in detail in a later post. The 3B, like all of her wines that we’ve tasted thus far, has come to life under deft hands.

Vintage & Producer: NV Filipa Pato

From: Beira Atlântico IGP

Style: Medium-bubbled white sparkling wine

Varieties: Baga, Bical

Price (as acquired, Intermarche): €10

February 12, 2018

We haven’t yet covered any wines from the most northeastern viticultural region in Portugal, the Trás-Os-Montes, which is characterized by high country and granite-laden soils. We hope to visit there soon, but in the meantime, we enjoyed the Seixedo Reserva from Adega Cooperativa do Rabaçal that we picked up on sale this weekend. With lots of blackberries and a bit of beef on the nose, the wine went well with a hearty dinner of bean stew with ancho chiles. The wine’s deep aubergine color and smooth, medium tannins mean it’s just right for drinking now, at four years since its release.

Vintage & Producer: 2013 Adega Cooperativa do Rabaçal

From: Trás-Os-Montes DOC

Style: Medium-bodied, fruity red

Varieties: Tinta Roriz, Trincadeira, Touriga Nacional

Price (as acquired, on sale at Jumbo): €5

February 5, 2018

We visited the beautiful Quinta de Soalheiro last August in the Minho region of the large Vinho Verde DOC, which snugs up next to the border with Spain, along the Minho river, in northern Portugal. We fell in love with the valley, and were treated to a friendly, personal visit and tasting looking out over the Alvarinho vines (alvarinho is Portuguese for albariño, also prominent in Spain).

In particular, we enjoyed their organic and unfiltered wines, including the Terramatter 2016, which we tasted again at home this weekend in a bottle procured at the winery’s loja. The grapes come from the sub-region of Melgaço, and, uniquely undergo a partial malolactic fermentation in chestnut barrels. The bright tropical fruits and freshly baked bread show on the nose, backed up by fresh pineapple and corn silk on the palate–making a great accompaniment to our Sunday roast chicken, but also to a variety of petiscos and seafood. With only 12.5% alcohol, you can split a bottle for dinner without feeling weighed down.

Vintage & Producer: 2016 Quinta de Soalheiro

From: Vinho Verde DOC/Monção e Melgaço Sub-Region

Style: Medium-bodied, organic, unfiltered white

Varieties: Alvarinho

Price (as acquired, at the quinta): €15