October 28, 2019

So what do you do when you’re out of wine and happen to be housesitting for the neighbors? You “borrow” some, of course. And return the favor in duplicate. That’s what we did last week when we faced a serious wine shortage–and at my mom’s house in rural Virginia, there’s little recourse without driving half an hour to procure additional resources. Fortunately, the neighbors had stashed away a new-label-to-me vinho tinto from Casa Santos Lima, Stones and Bones.

We’ll try to branch out next time, but the 2016 was a worthy contender. A blend of Touriga Nacional, Syrah, Tinta Roriz, and Alicante Bouschet from the viticultural region of Lisboa, the wine showed bright blackberry fruits on the nose, which turned to jam on the palate. The blend gains a bit of spice as it opens up. This is not a complicated wine, but it went well with our short ribs and sautéed Brussels sprouts with bacon. And the name makes for a good Halloween wine!

Vintage & Producer: 2016 Casa Santos Lima

From: VR Lisboa

Style: Fruity, bright red

Varieties: Touriga Nacional, Syrah, Tinta Roriz, and Alicante Bouschet

Price: $10 online

October 21, 2019

To be a wine drinker on the East Coast is typically to make friends with Total Wine, a chain of pretty good wine, beer, and spirits markets that has several outlets in Virginia and Maryland where we currently hang our hats… My only big beef with Total Wine is that they devote only half of one meter-wide section of their enormous selection to non-Port and -Madeira wines from Portugal. I’ll work on changing that.

In the meantime, we managed to pick up a Douro red from the Quinta das Carvalhas brand the last time we went shopping, and it proved a good Sunday-evening wine with spaghetti bolognese. A blend of 60% Touriga Nacional, 20% Touriga Franca, and 20% Tinta Roriz, it spends 12 months in oak. With black plums and bramble on the nose, moving to cassis on the palate, it features moderate tannins and an even finish.

Vintage & Producer: 2014 Companhia Geral Agricultura das Vinhas do Alto Douro

From: DOC Douro

Style: Fruity, deep red

Varieties: Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, and Tinta Roriz

Price: $14.99 at Total Wine

October 14, 2019

When we went to visit Casa Santos Lima, I was already familiar with its Lab series of wines, but I didn’t know their story. During our conversation with our hosts, we learned that a large percentage of the quinta’s wines are destined for export–and nowhere more than to the United States. We rarely saw the Lab brand on Lisboa’s market shelves–but when we returned to the U.S. one of the first Portuguese wines we had was the 2018 vinho branco.

A blend of 45% Fernão Pires, 35% Arinto, 10% Moscatel, and 10% Sauvignon Blanc, the branco has an open countenance, with the sunny hills from whence it hails in VR Lisboa creating tropical flavors in the Fernão Pires and evoking broad florals from the Moscatel. We had ours with roasted chicken with root vegetables.

Vintage & Producer: 2018 Casa Santos Lima

From: VR Lisboa

Style: Medium-bodied, tropical white

Varieties: Fernão Pires, Arinto, Moscatel, and Sauvignon Blanc

Price: $9 in larger wine merchants

October 7, 2019

We’d thought we might have consumed enough wine before we left Portugal to keep up our weekly posts, but we’ve come to the end of those we’d found thus far. Instead, we’ll continue the rest of the year–and our time in the United States until we can return–with a selection of Portuguese wines that you can find for reasonable prices on American shores.

We’re starting this off with a wine we didn’t expect to find–though surely we’ve had enough JP initialed wine from Bacalhôa while in Portugal to float a ship. When my stepfather placed it proudly on the table, I congratulated him: Finding a good rosé of Syrah from a consistent (if high volume) producer scores as a win. Lively, with dried cranberries on the nose and palate, with a medium body, it’s enough to stand up to our salad with crabmeat and spiced mayo.

Vintage & Producer: 2018 Bacalhôa

From: VR Península de Setúbal

Style: Medium-bodied dry rosé

Variety: Syrah

Price: $10 at Total Wine

Leave a Reply