November 25, 2019

To our delight, we found a pair of wines at the 7th Street Wine & Spirits shop in Frederick last week that we’d not seen before–perhaps because, like many Portuguese table wines we see in the U.S., they have been made specifically with the market over here in mind. It’s very frustrating, but we knew we’d have to take the chance that these wines, branded Paxis, from DFJ Vinhos, would be worth the $8-10 investment per bottle.

The blend of Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, and Tinta Roriz came off very fruity, with red and jammy black fruits on the cassis nose and palate. Though an elegant 12,5% abv, it felt a bit heavier and not as complex as advertised. We had this with our country chicken soup and hunks of bread spread with butter and Marmite we’d smuggled over from the UK.

Vintage & Producer: 2013 DFJ VInhos

From: VR Lisboa

Style: Fruity, jammy red

Varieties: Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz

Price: about $8 retail

November 18, 2019

During the last four years in Portugal, we drank often from the line-up of Adega Vila Real wines; they presented good value and our local Supermercado Atlantico had a range in stock when we needed a go-to wine. So when I saw that the 7th Street Wine & Spirits shop in Frederick, Maryland, had a Vila Real Reserva Tinto (and from 2013), I though it would make a nice bottle to take to friends for dinner–albeit at about three times the price we’d paid in Colares!

The award-winning blend from the Douro DOC shows a lot of red fruit, with vanillin accents from its time in oak. The adega sits midway up the Douro on the north side, and Vila Real makes an off-the-beaten-path destination for those exploring this part of Portugal. We enjoyed the tinto Reserva 2013 with a grilled salmon filet accompanied with roasted asparagus and lots of bread and manchego.

Vintage & Producer: 2013 Adega Vila Real

From: Douro DOC

Style: Fruity, elegant red

Varieties: Blend of red Portuguese varieties, likely including Tourigal Nacional, Tinta Roriz, and Tinta Cão

Price: about $10 in the store, less online

November 11, 2019

When we first tried the Confidencial Reserva from Casa Santos Lima in April 2018, we found it to be an excellent value–a lot of horsepower for a €5 red, and one worth having as a house wine. That was the 2013 vintage, and we’re happy to say that the tinto blend keeps delivering, and delivers a value that translates across the Atlantic. This was the second of two good finds from Wegman’s, and we’ll continue to shop there to find our Portuguese everyday wines while we’re stateside.

The VR Lisboa wine’s a pretty garnet color with medium body and moderate tannins. It saw six months of aging in 250-liter barriques of French and American oak, lending it the spice and vanilla notes–plus garrigue, bergamot, and blackberries on the nose. Wild berries dominate the palate, with an elegant finish. The name comes from the wine’s “confidencial” blend of more than 10 varieties. We had our bottle with a seafood marinara pasta.

Vintage & Producer: 2015 Casa Santos Lima

From: VR Lisboa

Style: Elegant, fruity red

Varieties: More than 10

Price: About $10 at Wegman’s

November 4, 2019

We happened upon a project that gathers wines from around the world, Seaside Cellars, and features them (and their respective seaside locales) in a series of wines that include a DOC Vinho Verde that our folks brought home from Wegman’s. I admit to not expecting much from a heavily branded and not-at-all-local expression of vinho verde–but what I found was certainly passable, and with a bit more weight than a lot of the mass-produced VVs that make it over here. That the company shows a commitment to water conservation brings them up a notch as well.

We planned a pork stir-fry for Sunday evening, and this vinho verde fit in well with that plan. The white blend (no profile of varieties mentioned anywhere I could find) came out green with lots of lime juice and herbal aromas, and more bright lime juice and zest on the palate. The slightly higher abv lent it more body than some vinho verdes, with a slight degree of pétillance. A reasonable choice, at a good price point. 11% abv.

Vintage & Producer: 2018 Seaside Cellars

From: DOC Vinho Verde

Style: Medium-bodied for a vinho verde, bright acidity

Varieties: White Portuguese Blend (read: Alvarinho, Loureiro, et al)

Price: about $8 in stores

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