January 29, 2018

To complement a rich spread of petiscos (Portuguese small plates often preceding a meal–or making one), we chose a Chardonnay from VR Alentejano representing well how producers in this interior region of Portugal have experimented with–and succeeded–in creating good wines from non-Portuguese grapes. The QP 2014 Chardonnay is a special project of Marcolino Sêbo, who has been vinifying wines around the Borba/Estremoz area for decades, and the talent shows. The clear yellow color in the glass sets the tone for the notes of marmelada on the nose, with dried tropical fruits and carmel on the palate.

Vintage & Producer: 2014 Marcolino Sêbo

From: Alentejano VR

Style: Rich, full-bodied white, with light oak

Varieties:  Chardonnay

Price (as acquired): €22 at a Lisbon restaurant (€7 retail)

An Extra Taste: January 25, 2018

We had a guest visiting from the US in January, and for that occasion, we pulled from the cellar a special bottle we’d been saving for just such a dinner: the 2015 Pinot Noir Q de Sant’Ana from Quinta Sant’Ana in Gradil. We’ll feature this beautiful quinta in full very soon, but suffice to say we fell in love with its wines last summer over two visits. The Pinot Noir variety is not a recognized grape for the Torres Vedras DOC, so this Vinho Regional (VR) wine carries the “Q” designation. Crafted in a Burgundian style with 30% whole bunch grapes into the press, it offers a window into the maritime valley climate in which the vines grow. With scent of thyme on the nose, and lingonberries and earth on the palate, it marries marvelously with a variety of dishes, from salmon to roast chicken.

Vintage & Producer: 2015 Quinta Sant’ana

From: Lisboa VR

Style: Lively red, with a garnet color and smooth tannins

Varieties:  Pinot Noir

Price (as acquired, at the quinta): €13,50

January 22, 2016

To celebrate a special birthday, we chose a red blend from a favorite producer, Quinta de la Rosa, and checked out their latest release. Wine producers Sophia Bergqvist and Jorge Moreira consistently make great value reds and port, and this most recent kept true to form. From the bend of the Douro River at Pinhão, the blend combines the three most common red grapes to bring together a “stripey” version of a classic Douro table tinto. With a licorice nose and bright red currants on the palate, the blend went well with our chicken liver paté.

Vintage & Producer: 2016 Quinta de la Rosa

From: Douro DOC

Style: Young red, with medium tannins, dry

Varieties:  Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz, Touriga Franca

Price (as acquired): €9,50

January 15, 2018

We love Syrah, and enjoy its expressions from wherever it grows, so we’ve found particular pleasure in tasting it in various wines in Portugal, where it can be found in blends, by itself, or even in rosés. The Cortes de Cima 100% Syrah from Alentejo VR shows off the hallmarks of the grape in rich form. The heady scent of blueberries on the nose carries over onto the palate, with a touch of game behind the fruit. A couple of years has shown well on this wine. Purchased at Jumbo supermarket.

Vintage & Producer: 2014 Cortes de Cima

From: Alentejano VR

Style: Full-bodied, rich red with light tannins

Varieties: Syrah

Price (as acquired): €14

January 8, 2018

Our wine for the second week of 2018 is an organic red blend from the Altano series of wines developed by Symington Family Estates. The grapes were chosen from around various estate vineyards, and they reflect a mix of popular Douro DOC varietals: Touriga Franca, Tinta Roria, Tinta Barroca, Touriga Nacional, and Tinto Cão. The relatively moderate alcohol (13.2%) shows in the wine’s freshness and floral plum notes on the nose. Just released in the fall of 2017, it has a young, deep aubergine color, and the palate shows youth as well: more plum but with the stems present. Purchased at Jumbo supermarket.

Vintage & Producer: 2016 Symington Family Estates

From: Douro DOC

Style: Young, medium-bodied red, dry

Varieties: Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz, Tinta Barroca, Touriga Nacional, Tinto Cão

Price (as acquired): €8

January 1, 2018

First wine of the New Year for us: Post Scriptum from Prats & Symington, the second round from their famous Chryseia tinto, or red, blend. This brambly wine hails from Quinta de Roriz and Quinta da Perdiz in the Douro DOC’s Cima Corgo region, and shows lush and smooth blackberry on the nose and palate. The blend comprises 53% Touriga Nacional and 47% Touriga Franca grapes. Purchased at Continente supermarket.

Vintage & Producer: 2015 Prats & Symington

From: Douro DOC

Style: Full-bodied red, dry

Varieties: Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca

Price (as acquired): €13

Tasting Notes: February 2018