May 27, 2019

We’ve enjoyed several vintages now of the Cabriz whites and reds from DOC Dão, so it was no surprise that the new rosé caught my eye the last time we went shopping. And I’m so glad that it did! With a lovely pale salmon color, it showed in the bottle its aim to take a place amongst the rosés de Provence currently in vogue–but the flavors really took center stage.

Crafted from Touriga Nacional and Alfrocheiro grapes, the 2018 Cabriz rosé went through a complete destemming prior to pneumatic pressing, and fermentation at 15C. Cherry scented, with a dry, intense palate, this wine shows a broad palate full of fruit: more cherries, fruit salad. A lovely wine that we enjoyed with a salad of chicken livers and carmelized onions.

Vintage & Producer: 2018 Global Wines, Carregal do Sal

From: Dão DOC

Style: Fragrant, flavorful dry rosé

Varieties: Touriga Nacional and Alfrocheiro

Price: less than €5 at the local supermercado

May 20, 2019

We’re always on the lookout for great weekday reds from Alentejo to stand up to the spicy and robust flavors we incorporate in our daily cooking. Last week we picked up a 2016 bottle of Duas Danças from Monte dos Perdigões from the area near Monsaraz. It’s an Alentejano regional wine, a blend of Aragonez, Alicante Bouschet, and Syrah–which is one we gravitate towards for the rich balance these grapes often create.

With a dark garnet color and opacity pointing to that richness, the blend takes off with blackberries and iron on the nose. More purple fruit plays with a bit of sangué game on the palate, and the softening tannins provide just enough underpinning for a moderate finish. Good with steaks on the grill, too.

Vintage & Producer: 2016 Monte dos Perdigões

From: VR Alentejano

Style: Fruity, gamy, full-bodied red

Varieties: Aragonez, Alicante Bouschet, and Syrah

Price: €7 at the local supermercado

May 13, 2019

Having been charmed ourselves by the beauty of the Minho region near Monção, we can understand the desire that winemaker Anselmo Mendes had to return to the place he grew up, to create new wine expressive of the terrain and the Alvarinho grape. A beautiful result of this is the Alvarinho Contacto 2017. The pressed juice spends a short period of maceration on the skins before cold clarification, fermentation held between 14C and 22C in inox, and 3 months aging on fine lees.

The Alvarinho is a light, sunny yellow in color with an almost blush undertone. Honeysuckle floral aromas persist over a palate that is bright and lemony, with additional flavors of custard apple. Excellent as a refreshing aperitif on these early hot days of May. 13% abv.

Vintage & Producer: 2017 Anselmo Mendes

From: DOC Vinho Verde/Melgaço e Monção

Style: Fresh, sunny white

Variety: Alvarinho

Price: €10 at the local Covarin

May 6, 2019

The viticultural region surrounding Lisbon hosts a wide range of grapes, styles, and producers. For this week’s wine selection, we chose a new-to-us quinta from the Bucelas DOC, just north of Lisbon proper. Quinta do Avelar is one of the oldest quintas in the region, and it’s well regarded for its Arinto. We saw its tinto blend, the Vinhas Velhas 2015, and determined to give it a try. The combination of grapes from around the VR–Aragonez, Camarate, Castelão, Tinta Miúda, and Trincadeira–come together well in the mix.

The blend is at its peak, most likely, showing a garnet-to-brick color and moderate to softening tannins. On the nose, warm red fruits and hint of clove dance around, complementing the brambles, cherries, and savory herbs on the palate, with a streak of salinity. The wine retains enough acidity for us to try it with our rich, chouriço-inflected pasta carbonara tonight.

Vintage & Producer: 2015 Sociedade Agro Pecuária da Quinta do Avelar

From: VR Lisboa

Style: Fruity, moderately weighted red

Varieties: Aragonez, Camarate, Castelão, Tinta Miúda, and Trincadeira

Price: €6,99 at the local supermercado