We continue our quest to find decent Portuguese wine on these shores, beyond port–which has its charms, to be clear, but cannot readily be consumed at either its price point here, nor with the greater affinity that so many table wines have with food from around the globe.

April 3, 2020

Casa Santos Lima Lab Tinto Caixa 3l

What a friend we found on the shelves of one of our favorite bottle shops in Frederick–I never thought I’d be so happy to see a box of the Lab in my life. While this wine served me well five years ago while I was waiting to move to Portugal–and needed an inexpensive way to enjoy its wines stateside–we didn’t have any while we lived in country. Perhaps that’s because Casa Santos Lima exports most of its produce, and most of that to the US. Or just that there were so many, many other selections to choose from. However, finding it by the box was a happy surprise, as we could count upon its integrity and drinkability for the price–unlike so many other box wines in the US.

The blend is of Syrah, Touriga Nacional, Castelão, and Tinta Roriz, all from the estate’s vineyards and others in VR Lisboa. While the balance is proprietary, year after year it makes for the same smooth, warm-red-fruit compote on the nose and palate. with a mild level of tannins–just enough to keep it from going flabby. Also available by 750ml bottle. 13% abv.

Vintage & Producer: December 2019 (filling date) NV Casa Santos Lima

From: VR Lisboa

Style: Fruity, easy red blend

Varieties: Syrah, Touriga Nacional, Castelão, and Tinta Roriz

Price: $24.99 retail for 3l box


April 18, 2020

We’d enjoyed several bottles of Fiuza blends while in Portugal–and I was very happy to find anything with an Arinto and Vital blend stateside–so we picked up this bottle to enjoy with our roast chicken over schmaltzy cabbage. From the VR Tejo, the Arinto and Vital are blended with Chardonnay in the 2014 Fiuza 3 Castas Vinho Branco. It’s golden straw color–with no off aromas yet because of its age–set off a sunshiny feeling, with honeyed hay and baked apple aromas and tastes. A soft approach on the palate led lingering acidity–just bright enough to carry it through. 12.5% abv.

Vintage & Producer: 2014 Fiuza

From: VR Tejo

Style: Bright, citrusy, balanced white

Varieties: Arinto, Chardonnay, and Vital

Price: $12.99 retail


April 25, 2020

We could not celebrate 25 de Abril without a Portuguese wine and food to go with it! This red blend from Casa Santos Lima, the 2015 Colossal Reserva, combines castas from VR Lisboa, including 30% Touriga Nacional, 30% Syrah, 30% Tinta Roriz, and 10% Alicante Bouschet for a robust, fruity mix. Its deep blackberry color and obscure cast appealed to me again–and on the nose, I found clove, leading to other spices, and dark berry aromas. On the palate, with moderate tannins and weight, there was cassis, and black plum flavors. For lunch I made arroz de tomate, and for dinner, chouriço with kale and batatas assadas. Saúde! 14% abv.

Vintage & Producer: 2015 Casa Santos Lima

From: VR Lisboa

Style: Medium-bodied, fruit-driven dry red

Varieties: Touriga Nacional 30% Syrah 30% Tinta Roriz 30% Alicante Bouschet 10%

Price: $15.99 retail