Another month on stay-at-home restrictions have kept us close in, so we take a look at three wines this month, plus a sip of something stronger: the CR&F Aguardente Velha Reserva (Carvalho, Ribeiro & Ferreira) brought over to us by our friend Bruno, a TAP captain who helped inaugurate the LIS-IAD (Lisbon to Washington Dulles) route last summer. He made one final trip before TAP pulled back its flights from the route in March 2020–and he left us with a nice bottle of the brandy-like aguardente, which we sampled on Memorial Day weekend. It was a fitting way to toast the friendship that stands the test of the distance.

May 2, 2020

Aríos Aguafuerte Alvarinho Vinho Verde from Felgueiras came from an unlikely shop on the Dual Highway in Hagerstown, next to a porn shop and a tobacco den. However, the friendly staff belie the slightly jumbled nature of the “wine room” and they had a couple of Portuguese wines to offer besides a port or two. This vinho verde was one–its pale spring color and very minor effervescence making it breeze across the palate. With lemon and white peach aromas melding to more verdant white peach flavors, it went very well with our asparagus and hollandaise sauce over poached eggs. 12,5% abv.

Vintage & Producer: 2016 Aríos

From: DOC Vinho Verde

Style: Light, green vinho verde (white)

Variety: Alvarinho

Price: $12 retail

May 9, 2020

The Vila Real Reserva Tinto Douro 2013 came from a resurgence of Portuguese wines at the 7th Street Wine Shop (which is my name for Ye Olde Spirit Shop in Frederick). I plucked it up, having had several of the similar vintages and castas from this producer while in Portugal, and again here. Coming from the cooperativa in Vila Real (an intriguing city cupped in the hills just north of the middle Douro), the blend of Tinta Barroca (25%), Tinta Roriz (25%), Touriga Franca (25%) and Touriga Nacional (25%) balances the qualities of these four prominent Douro grapes, into a deeply black-berried wine. Its obscure and dark ruby color showed its age well, and the tannins had moderated a bit from what it must have been in its youth. We enjoyed it with brats on the grill. 13,5% abv.

Vintage & Producer: 2013 Adega Cooperativa de Vila Real

From: DOC Douro

Style: Rich, dark-fruited, moderate red

Varieties: Tinta Barroca (25%), Tinta Roriz (25%), Touriga Franca (25%) and Touriga Nacional (25%)

Price: $13 retail

May 17, 2020

Also from DOC Douro, by vinified south of the river, the 2014 Senhora do Convento tinto blend from Tavora also shows off the dark fruits of its grapes and its location. Its castas come from a field blend, but likely have the Tinta Barroca, Tinta Roriz, Touriga Franca, and Touriga Nacional mix of the Vila Real wine–but this one has aged a little bit less, showy a hazy garnet color. With medium body and moderate–but still forward tannins–it shows blackberry crumble on the nose. Fresh blackberries sing on the palate with cassis on the back end. We enjoyed this with lamb chops with a sun-dried tomato crumb crust and mashed potatoes. 13,5% abv.

Vintage & Producer: 2014 Q.S.P.A Soc. Vitícola

From: DOC Douro

Style: Moderate, dark-fruit red

Varieties: Douro tinto blend

Price: $15 retail

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