Portuguese Wine

Wine Discoveries: Tour through Portugal

Portugal, for a small country, has fourteen wine regions. My knowledge of Portuguese wine is light so when I saw Planet Wine, my local wine shop, doing a tasting, I thought it would be a fun tour.

Of the fourteen wine regions, you’re probably most familiar with…

  • Vino Verde: Biggest and northernmost wine region in the country famous for wines of that same name.
  • Duoro: Home of Port wine and now nice unfortified wines made from the same grapes, this region follows the River Duoro to the city of Oporto or Porto on the Atlantic Ocean. (Note ‘fortified’ wines like Port mean a spirit is added it to it.)
  • Madeira: Island off of Portugal producing sweet fortified wine of the same name.

Wine regions in Portugal are designated DOC / DOP (Designation of Origin similar to France) or IG / IGP (Protected Geographical Indication). The later, while regulated, says there only needs to be 85% of grapes from that region in it.

Red and white grapes are grown in Portugal, many of the varieties indigenous to the country. Here are the most common…

  • White (16 varietals): Alvarinho, Loureiro, Encruzado, Bicla, Arinto
  • Red (17 varietals): Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz (known as Tempranillo in Spain), Touriga Franca, Baga, Periquita

The Planet Wine tasting was a great basic eduction focusing on the three main regions with five wines.

Las Lilas Vinho Verde 2010

  • Grape Variety:  Loureiro and Treixadura from Vinho Verde
  • Aroma: Light, citrus
  • Taste: Crisp, clean, lime
  • Price: $9.99
  • My thoughts: I discovered this grape varietal/wine last year and really like it! Very refreshing as it has a slight sparkle to it and is typically low in alcohol. It’s name means ‘green’ which is captured in the bottle… most Vinho Verde bottles have a blue tint to them and combined with the pale yellow wine makes it look green in color. Meant to be enjoyed young it’s a great summer wine. I bought a bottle of this.

Toural Red Tinto 2009

  • Grape Variety: 8 grape varieties from the Dão and Duoro regions
  • Aroma: Dark baked fruit
  • Taste: Berry, spice, hints of oak
  • Price: $7.99
  • My thoughts: A typical red table wine from Portugal, it’s very easy to drink, soft and a great price point.

Vidigal Dão 2010

  • Grape Variety: 50% Jaen, 30% Touriga Nacional, 20% Alfrochiero
  • Aroma: Baked cherry with hint of cinnamon
  • Taste: Cherry pie
  • Price: $10.99
  • My thoughts: Tim at Planet Wine said wines from the Dão region are typically Burgundian in style (Burgundy, France which is classic Pinot Noir), even the bottle is the Burgundy shape. Great way to capture it. Like Pinot Noir, this was a nice light bodied red. Again, great price point.
  • Grape Variety: 30% Touriga Franca, 25% Touriga Nacional, 20% Tinta Roriz, 20% Vinhas Velhas, and 5% Sousao
  • Aroma: Mineral, herbal
  • Taste: Baked blueberry and blackberry
  • Price: $26.99
  • My thoughts: Tim said Duoro wines tend to be like Bordeaux, France. Great descriptor as this wine was fuller bodied and more complex than the Dão. The other neat thing is these are the typical grapes used to make Port so it was great to taste them unfortified and not sweet. Really lovely wine full of berries!

Quinta Seara D’Ordens, Porto Fine Ruby

  • Grape Variety: Duoro grape varietals
  • Aroma: Raisin, plum, mineral
  • Taste: Sweet baked prunes with a hint of violet
  • Price: $15.99
  • My thoughts: I’m not a Port fan but this was a nice entry level. Ruby Ports are bottle aged, meant to be consumed young, less expensive. Tawny Ports are cask aged, finer, more expensive.

Thank you Tim at Planet Wine for the Portugal education and tasting, and Wines of Portugal, for more great information on Portuguese wine!

Cheers to Portugal!

Germany, China & Portugal Wine Discoveries

Epcot Food & Wine Festival is a great opportunity to discover new wines. Among the 28 wines and champagnes I sampled last week, here are three new interesting discoveries from Germany, China and Portugal.

Germany’s Kloster Pinot Grigio

You don’t see many Pinot Grigio’s from Germany. This one was served at Epcot’s Germany Weinkeller and comes from the Rheinhessen, the largest of Germany’s 13 wine producing regions. It’s 100% Pinot Grigio grapes fermented in stainless steel and stored in stainless.

  • Aroma: Clean and fruity.
  • Taste: Crisp citrus with hint of nut. Soft yet medium bodied (more so than your usual Italian Pinot Grigio).
  • My thoughts: I really enjoyed this wine. I’m a Pinot Grigio fan so was fun to find one from Germany.

China’s Dragon Hollow Chardonnay

We’re hearing a lot these days about China’s growing consumption of wine. Well here’s a wine made in China. This was the wine served at the China International Marketplace. Their website says they are the first premium wines produced in China. No pesticides, clean water and modern winemaking technology are used. And the Ningxia Helan Mountain Eastern region where the wine comes from is same parallel as Napa and Bordeaux.

  • Aroma: Granny Smith apple and alchol.
  • Taste: Clean tart apple with hint of almond.
  • My thoughts: It was exciting to try this wine and while it has potential, particularly as an un-0aked Chardonnay, it doesn’t yet fully live up the the websites description. I found it overall flat after the first sip and pretty high in alcohol yet its only 12.9%.
This is a fun one! Port is a Portuguese fortified wine produced exclusively in the Duoro Valley in northern Portugal. Croft has been making Port for four centuries and now created something totally new..a rose style. Typically Port is thought of as a heavy after dinner drink. Croft Pink is best served chilled or over ice AND perfect for cocktails. This was served at the Intermission Café hosted by Kobrand.
  • Aroma: Berry and floral.
  • Taste:  Raspberry and cherry with some heat, due to the almost 20% alcohol content.
  • My thoughts: WOW! This a great new spin on the classic Port which I don’t usually drink. I preferred Croft Pink with bubbles…soda water or Prosecco. Try adding a lime too.

 More to come on Champagne and additional Italian wine discoveries. Cheers!


Portugal’s Refreshing Wine Experience

Enjoyed a fun bottle of Portuguese wine tonight, Casal Garcia White, picked up recently from Seattle Wine Outlet. It’s fruity aromas and light body with citrus taste were the perfect pairing for our Coconut Chicken Noodle dish. Produced by Aveleda from the Vinho Verde appellation, it’s made of Trajadura, Loureiro, Arinto and Azal grape varieties.

Casal Garcia is easily identified by it’s bluish bottle and had been produced since 1939.  It’s the most sold Vinho Verde in the world.

In 2008, the new Casal Garcia Rosé was born, which was distinguished in 2010 with a gold medal in the Mundus Vini competition.

The wine tagline is ‘the refreshing experience’ said to celebrate the Portuguese happy way of life.