So… I bought and opened this expecting it to be like the previous Portuguese reds I’ve tasted: very dry, tannic, ripe but rather acid, and needing 1.5 – 2 hours in a decanter for me to really find it palatable. Instead, I probably would have believed you if you had told me this was a Tempranillo – Cabernet blend from the Central Coast of California. I tasted sweet, ripe, red cherry fruit on first pour. With more time in a decanter, the red fruit darkened and became purplish, much like Cabernet flavors. The wine seems fully aired after about 90 minutes, with softly textured flavors of sweetly ripe purplish red cherry, dark red / black raspberry / almost blackberry, dusty cinnamon / dried orange peel, with a drying, but not unpleasant, tannic finish. Although not at all what I had expected, this seems like a pretty good wine for the price, a European wine that I would not recommend to people who prefer European wines, but to those who prefer Californian wines.
The saved, single-glass, screw-cap bottle of this wine was less sweet and fuzzy, more acid (not saying that much in this case), but still with sweetly ripe Cabernet- and somewhat Tempranillo-tasting fruit, and still entertainingly Drinkable.
DOC Beira Interior, Portugal; 100% SÍria; 13% ABV
bottled by Companhia das Quintas
imported by Flavor Seekers, San Diego, CA
$4 at the Richmond, CA, store on 21 March
After I liked the Figueira red and Bill recommended trying the white, I picked up a bottle of it as another waiting-for-the-sale wine.
I found this a pleasant white, with flavors of yellow and white melon / pear, with a little green melon and minerality on the finish. The fruit is soft and slightly creamy, with a nice fruit / acid balance. Similar to the red, I’m not totally wowed by it, but it is quite pleasant and tasty wine for the price, and an interesting new varietal to me. If I had tasted this blind, my best guess would have been that it’s a Grenache Blanc.
The next day, the fruit is more forward and integrated, becoming nicely textured, but still with nicely minerally structure. It was pretty good the first day, but its second-day performance pushes this into Thumbs Up.
DOC Veira Interior, Portugal Touriga Nacional 40%, Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo) 40%, Touriga Franca (Touriga Francesca) 20%; 13% ABV
$4 at the Richmond, CA, store on 9 March
I thought this wine was promising right away, but in the way that I like wines well-aired, I thought it needed two hours to fully show itself. Then it has nice aromas and flavors of dark roses, dark plum, cranberry / raspberry, with ripe fruit but also plenty of acid and an earthy tannic finish, in a light-to-medium bodied wine. I think it’s an elegant and tasty wine for the money, and definitely a food wine.
The saved single-glass, screwcap bottle still needed a bit of air to show dark, earthy plummy flavors that were less acid and less complex than on the first night. I might have liked it better the second night. For those who like earthy, tannic, somewhat acid, European wines, this is a good deal for a daily red. It should hold on well for two or three more years.
Douro DOC, Portugal
35% Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo), 30% Touriga Franca, 20% Tinta Barroca, 15% Touriga Nacional; 13% ABV
imported by Broadbent Selections, San Francisco
$6 at the Richmond, CA, store on about 22 July.
I felt like this wine never fully aired on its first night open. It seemed to promise becoming dense, dark earthy, red-fruited. Instead, it was rather sour and unyielding, but it slowly opened more over 4.5 hours or so. The flavors were in the vein of dark cherry, red plum, cranberry / hibiscus tea.
The next day, however, the saved single-glass screw-cap bottle promised to open up more fully, but still never quite made it. It showed flavors of dark ripe and tart plum, cranberry, black earth, dark roses / violets, still with pretty strong acid. With these results, I think this is pretty good wine for the price, but I’d recommend putting it down in cool storage for 4 to 6 years. If you want to drink it now, I’d suggest putting it in a covered decanter for 6 hours to a day before serving.
Upon opening the bottle, I immediately poured off a single-glass screw capped bottle of this wine, with little air. The rest of the bottle aired over a few hours. Over that time, the wine added weight and darkened to give flavors of medium to darker purple plum, boysenberry, and mulberry, with some dark spice and earth. However, it was always a bit reserved, and especially the finish seemed a bit bitter. Overall, the wine was substantial enough, but not very charming.
However, the saved small bottle, with another hour or so of air, was delicious. The wine became silky smooth, with ripe flavors of darker red cherry and rose, blueberry, darker purple plum, softer boysenberry / mulberry, with a moderately tannic finish. It reminds me a good bit of the Aguia Moura in flavors, but this wine is younger and fresher, less thick and rich, and more delicate and aromatic. I suspect this wine will be better with a couple more years of age. If you drink it now, you may want to decant it, immediately pour it back in the bottle, stopper it, and drink it the next evening.
34% Touriga Nacional, 33% Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo), 33% Tinta da Barca; 14% ABV $10 at the Berkeley, CA, store on 23 July
On 29 July, 5-Star Bar posted the following in What’s New:
Tried the 2008 Aguia Moura em Vinhas Velhas Douro Reserva Translation: 2008 Moorish Eagle Old Vines Douro Reserve (aged 12 months in Oak)
This wine is, quite simply, “da’ bomb”. Best Portuguese dry red I’ve tried (though admittedly haven’t tried all that many, <20 lifetime).
Reminiscent of a Portuguese version of a Rhone style GSM blend and packaged in a similarly shaped, very substantial high quality bottle with a broad punt (dimple) on the bottom. Shows its best on the first night, immediately upon opening, so I recommend drinking up with friends and family on Day 1. Peak drinkability now, though might still age well for a few years more. Still good on the second evening, though a bit more on the tart side which should please fans of European styled wines (think Cranberry, Leather) just fine. Big thumbs up and a fine QPR/value
While I agree with this description, I wasn’t as fond of it. Although it was hearty and full-bodied and had tasty, earthy, flavors of red and purple plum, purple cherry, some mulberry and darker fig, I found it rather coarse and even a little abrasive. It was fine, but to me it was quite poorly integrated, and I couldn’t really get into it. Now for the disclaimers. First, 5SB said it’s best right out of the bottle; I assumed it would need at least an hour of air in a decanter, and didn’t even try it until after that. Second, it strikes me as the sort of wine (a little older, in a more individually crafted style) that could show a bit of bottle variation. Although it’s probably long gone by now, does anyone have any experiences with this wine to share?
This wine was pretty tasty from the get-go, but it darkened and filled out a little after about 70 minutes in a decanter. It’s very nicely aromatic, with the same complex flavors on a medium-weight palate, of light and tart to riper dark red / almost light purple fruits: cherry, red currant, dark raspberry / almost plum / darker hibiscus, roses and a little violet, black pepper, funky earth and a small amount of prune after a couple hours of air. From my vantage point of not knowing much about contemporary Portuguese wine, I’d say this wine is mostly Spanish (aromatic with dusty tannin) but part Italian (tangy with darker, riper fruit than Spanish wines), with the ample acid of both. If you only like ripe, jammy Californian, Chilean or Australian wines, stay away. I drank it with beef steak and green beans and the food overwhelmed the subtlety of the wine. I’d recommend pairing it with pork dishes, or maybe darker chicken dishes.
These two wines were among a bunch (imported by Wineworth) that came into the Berkeley store only as part of a one-time deal. I’ve already written about a few, and decided to put these two together to get them done with. My understanding is that these wines will no longer be found in any GO, but those interested are invited to continue reading below the fold. I liked them both, but especially the second.
Dão DOC, Portugal
45% Malvasia Fina, 20% Encruzado, 20% Cerceal, 15% Bical; 13% ABV
bottled by Quinta dos Roques, Lda.; imported by Wineworth, LLC
$6 at the Berkeley, CA store on 12 Sept. Probably not available anywhere now.
Like the Refosco earlier, this wine was part of a one-off batch apparently only at the Berkeley store, and, also like the Refosco, completely unknown to me. (DLuber said the 2008 single-varietal Malvasia Fina white wine in that batch was a bit stale.) The Wikipedia article linked above notes: “Historically the white wines were known for being over oxidized and full bodied but more modern winemaking has been producing white wines that are fresh, fruity and fragrant.” This wine was a nice example of this newer style.
A pleasant nose of yellow apples and flowers came through on the palate, but was initially overwhelmed by a strong bitterness of grape skin and stem. However, after a couple hours of air in the fridge, the bitterness was nearly gone and what was left was quite lovely: sweet yellow apple and pear, non-perfumed white flowers and delicate minerality, balanced by a slight residual bitterness and lightly lemony acid. As a Californian unfamiliar with contemporary Portuguese wines, I could probably be fooled by someone telling me that this was a nice, aged, local Chardonnay. After a few sips, I’d think it’s an unusual Chardonnay, but it’s yummy enough I wouldn’t question it too much. 🙂
The next day, the rest of the bottle left in the fridge was still drinkable, but it was more heavy and bitter than on the first night.
Vinho de Mesa, Portugal. 13% ABV
Purchased 5/30/2013 at the Oakland, CA store
A little pop on opening, ever so slightly spritzy, although less than a Vinho Verde. The nose provides some pleasantly nutty toasty oxidation notes over light indiscriminate fruit, and the palate offers a creamy feel balanced by a little tingle and a slight green bite; a lingering umami and hints of herbs and citrus on the finish. Not gonna knock your socks off but a solidly drinkable wine, but drink now I think.