Warm Weather Reds
The country of Portugal, located in the west of Europe, closer to the US, is one of the continent’s smaller nations. While it has one of the smaller populations of Europe at slightly more than four million people, it also has the surprising distinction of having more varieties of wine grapes-more than 215 varietals-than any other country in Europe.
The vast majority of those are red wine grapes and of those, the one that’s the most popular in Portugal and the one that’s rapidly becoming known for its quality and value globally is the “Portuguese Secret”-Touriga Nacional.
Like many other grape varieties in Portugal, this is an ancient grape, first thought to have been used over 4,000 years ago. Today, it has the unique distinction of being the only red wine grape that is required by law to be at least 10% of every blended red wine in Portugal. Red blended wines, by the way, make up over 90% of the country’s red wine production; conversely, this is also one of the few red wine grapes that is used by itself. As you might guess, the production of the grape occurs all over the country and there is a broad range of makers and pricing; however, the one thing you should know about red wines from Portugal is that today, they represent some of the best values not only in Europe, but throughout the world. The following are worth looking for:
Delaforce Touriga Nacional 2018 ($23.99). Ever since being acquired by the Taylor-Fladgate Fonseca group, its wines are back on form and aspire to the quality they must have once held in the late nineteenth century when the company supplied the Portuguese Royal Family. The company sources grapes from its own vineyards located in the finest areas of the Rio Torto and Roncão valleys. The house style is distinguished by delicate fruit flavors, as well as a significant body and a long finish.
Quinta Do Ventozelo Touriga Nacional, 2012, ($22.99). Here we have 100% Touriga Nacional from 25-year-old vines aging in 100% American oak barrels. They stay in the American oak for 8 months but are held at the winey for 6 months for aging before it’s released to the export market. On the nose, it’s warm, spiced red fruit, while on the palate, you’ll get dark strawberries and blackberries, baking spice, chalky tannins and a full mouth feel rounding out over a long finish.
Quinta Da Falorca Touriga Nacional, 2016, ($36.99). In June of last year, when it was released in the U.S., Robert Parker scored it at 95 points, saying, “The 2016 Touriga Nacional Quinta Da Falorca is a blend of Touriga grapes from three plots, two with 40 years of age and the third at ten. It was aged in new French oak for 18 months. The combination of power, finesse and seduction here make this more than a little enticing. To be sure, it is rather unevolved and it needs to pull in a little oak. Even now, though, it is slowly gathering itself. The crisp, flavorful finish, balance and good structure will support this for a couple of decades in all likelihood. It finishes with controlled power and persistent flavor. It is always a wine that leans a bit to the Burgundian and this year is no different.”. This is a big, powerful red that will seriously enhance your best roasts or steaks.
Duorum 2018 S&R (Douro); $12.99, 90 points. The partnership between the Soares Franco and Portugal Ramos families has produced this friendly, open and ripe wine that celebrates the city of Porto and the Douro River. Black fruits, a smoky texture and warm tannins are attractively packaged in this ready-to-drink wine.
Herdade do Rocim 2019 Amphora (Alentejo); $16.99, 90 points. Aged in amphorae, the wine was made naturally with wild yeast. The result is a fine textured, fruity wine with a strongly juicy character as well as light tannins. The wine should be deliciously ready from 2021.
Warm Weather Reds can make for a hearty summer get together. Give them a try!
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