November 26, 2018

We had a chance to visit Quinta de Chocapalha again this week, as the vines wind down for the year. Among others, we tasted the latest release of their namesake Tinto, the 2015 version, to build on our knowledge of the wine and confirm our respect for what their team does, both in the vineyard, and in the process. With the tasting room lit up for the Natal season, and a fire burning in the fireplace, the cozy atmosphere charmed us anew.

The 2015 blends Touriga Nacional (40%), Touriga Franca (25%), Tinta Roriz (15%), Alicante Bouschet (10%), and Castelão (10%) grapes after each variety has spent 18 months in French oak. You can smell the wild herbs and brambles on the nose, while on the palate the dark cherries taste almost candied, so rich are they. At 13,5% abv, this medium-bodied red would be a great choice with roasted cabrito or rabbit.

Vintage & Producer: 2015 Quinta de Chocapalha

From: VR Lisboa

Style: Medium-bodied, richly fruited red

Varieties: Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz, Alicante Bouschet, and Castelão

Price: About €8 retail in select locations

November 19, 2018

Time for a white? Plenty of great fall recipes calls for a flavorful vinho branco–so we have a good selection for you this week. From Marcolino Sebo Wines, near Estremoz, comes this blend of two strong white grapes, Roupeiro and Antão Vaz. The wine was fermented in stainless steel tanks, following temperature-controlled selection and maceration.

At 12,5% abv, this middleweight shows a lemony brightness in aromas, which morphs into a preserved lemon on the palate, with a hint of baking spice. We found it went well with our chicken-and-egg soup with Asian ginger and galangal spices.

Vintage & Producer: 2017 Marcolino Sebo/Quinta da Pinheira

From: VR Alentejano

Style: Full-flavored, versatile white

Varieties: Roupeiro and Antão Vaz

Price: About €5 retail at local supermarkets

November 12, 2018

We’re on an Alentejo roll, prompted this week by a gift of wine that we really enjoyed. Featuring the native Moreto grape, the Granja-Amareleja 2016 tinto seduced us with its rich berries and perfumed aromas. The adega at Granja-Mou is now on our list to visit, as it houses a museum that takes a deep dive into the history of winemaking in the Alentejo.

In the meantime, we popped open the Premium blend to have with chicken stuffed with a mix of Parmesan, turnip greens, and breadcrumbs–deeply satisfying, as we also found the wine. The nose of blackberry confiture and leather balanced the palate with a hint of cassis and game meats. Produced from small lots, this tinto is one we’ll seek out again.

Vintage & Producer: 2016 Cooperativa Agrícola de Granja

From: DOC Alentejo

Style: Rich, layered, medium-bodied red

Varieties: Moreto, Aragonez, Trincadeiro, and Alfrocheiro

Price: €18 retail; up to 50% discount at some stores

November 5, 2018

As the evenings get cooler, we turn back to some favorites on the richer end of the spectrum, like the hearty reds from Alentejo. We’ve been fortunate to find the range of Piteira wines on sale at Continente from time to time, and a couple of weeks ago, we scored again. From Encostas do Alqueva’s relationship with Amareleza, the Piteira DOC wines showcase the traditional grapes of the Alentejo; in this case, the Aragonez, Trincadeiro, Alfrocheiro, and Alicante Bouschet–an international variety that sees good expression in the heart of Portugal.

The deep violet Premium tinto from 2017 shows depth for its youth, and its past presence as a award winner. With black currants on the nose, and a taste of almond cake and blackberry confiture on the palate, this smooth, fruity wine goes with a beef roast, or other meaty dish and potatoes.

Vintage & Producer: 2017 Amareleza Vinhos, Ltd.

From: DOC Alentejo

Style: Rich, fruity red

Varieties: Aragonez, Trincadeiro, Alfrocheiro, and Alicante Bouschet

Price: €4, on sale at Continente (regularly around €7)