May 28, 2018

In honor of Memorial Day, when our thoughts run with those who gave all, we lift a glass to them along with friends and family around a table outside, in the sun. A fitting white to share during today’s meals: Vinha da Roca vinho branco, a very local blend from Quinta Vale da Roca near Azoia. “Where the land meets the sea”–an understatement given the quinta’s dramatic location near Cabo da Roca north of Cascais.

The mix of Mavasia, Arinto, and Fernão Pires, creates a floral nose–I found orange flowers along with pear in its aromas. To taste, a light melon light Chanterais came through, making this wine a perfect aperitif to have with the typical tabua of presunto, cheese, and the strawberries of late spring.

Vintage & Producer: 2016 Quinta Vale da Roca

From: Lisboa VR

Style:  Light, floral white

Varieties: Malvasia, Arinto, and Fernão Pires

Price (retail, local supermercado): €4

May 21, 2018

We return to the Douro for this week’s vinho tinto, a blend from the Altano vineyards under the Symington Family Estates portfolio. The Altano DOC wines, with grapes harvested in advance of those picked for Port wine, go through vinification at the Quinta do Sol. The red blend goes into 225, 300, or 400-liter casks (either French or American oak) and ages for a minimum of four months.

The 2015 vintage was excellent for Touriga Franca, lending this wine a rich character. We found a touch of eucalyptus and blackberry on the nose, with a bit of astringency on the palate, and more dark berries and plums shining through. At 13.5% abv, this balanced red goes with a lot of hearty Portuguese dishes; we enjoyed it with a spaghetti bolognese that is a go-to meal for us during the work week.

Vintage & Producer: 2015 Symington Estates

From: Douro DOC

Style: Medium-bodied red

Varieties: Field blend of typical Douro red varieties (Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz, Tinta Barroca)

Price (retail, local markets like Jumbo): €4

May 14, 2018

Several white grapes form the standard vinho branco blend in the Douro DOC. Among them, Rabigato is not often vinified by itself, but this variety can produce a rich wine on its own. Quinta de Porrais, in the eastern end of the Douro, made a version of Rabigato that we enjoyed tremendously. From vineyards at 600 meters on schist soils, this wine went through fermentation then was aged in 500 liter French oak barrels for a year.

The result? A Rabigato that reads like a wide open cousin to a Chardonnay, with golden apple color, and some papaya on the nose. On the palate, I tasted pineapple cake with an undertone of lemon pith. The wine played well with our roast chicken and leeks for a birthday dinner for our most senior pup.

Vintage & Producer: 2014 Quinta de Porrais

From: Douro DOC

Style: Full-bodied white

Variety: Rabigato

Price (retail, on sale at Continente): €8

May 7, 2018

The warm days of spring have finally arrived, and with them the impulse to drink rosé, at least as far as we’re concerned. We stopped by Souk in Cascais on a rainy Saturday, and tried a suggestion by the house: S. Caetano rosé of Vinho Verde DOC. Crafted from the Espadeiro grape, this wine has little of the normal “frizzante” or sparkle of Vinho Verde, but big mouthfuls of taste. Its light salmon color looks attractive in the glass, and the nose is full of berries with a hint of cardamom. On the palate, a burst of strawberry hits you, but the wine’s dry, not sweet. At a significant 13.5% abv, it’s not as light as other Vinho Verdes, either, but it went marvelously well with the mackerel-and-citrus and mushroom-filled country salads we enjoyed at Souk for lunch.

Vintage & Producer: 2017 S. Caetano

From: Vinho Verde DOC

Style: Light-bodied rosé

Variety: Espadeiro

Price (retail, restaurant): €10,60