More Good Stuff From The Douro

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Stephen-CSW-Header(TORONTO, ON) – I usually write about wines that are available on LCBO shelves. Occasionally I will review wines that are available from LCBO agents in Ontario. There is both a good and bad to this.

You have to put in a private order with the agent and that involves a wait and the requirement to buy a case of six or 12 as the case may be. This may prove a bit risky, getting stuck with a wine you don’t like. Share with friends and you cut your risk.

The good side, of course, is that you will find some excellent wines or even cheaper party wines you might want to serve to friends at a BBQ or over some turkey.

In the wines that follow, I suggest you contact Anabela Rocha at FWP Trading Inc at 416-487-6153, for prices and the private order process. These are all Portuguese wines from the Douro Valley, an incredibly beautiful area of the world yet unknown to so many Canadians.

The Douro is a short distance from Porto and a river cruise is mandatory, even if for the day.

And Porto. So many beautiful buildings and museums, but with a bit of roughness to it. It’s real and it lives.

The Três Bagos 2015 white has a medium gold colour. What hits the nose is a combination of honey, marzipan, pineapple, and white pepper. A bit of a hothead for a Portuguese white.

On the palate, a certain degree of crispness, but don’t mistake this for a light wine. Solid notes of guava, pineapple, apple, and that unique taste of Portuguese toasted almonds. A nice mid-weight wine with a bit more force than many a Douro white, which can often be a bit flighty, acidic, and afraid of making a statement.

It is both a good sipper, but has enough acidity and punch to match chicken baked in lemon, oregano, and virgin olive oil, or grilled pork chops in a similar marinade.

A step above many a Douro white. (Três Bagos 2015, D.O.C. Douro, Lavradores de Feitoria, Sabrosa, Portugal, 12%, 750 mL, Square Media Group Rating 89/100). Rest assured of the truly Portuguese nature of the grapes used in this wine that sounded so strange to me several years ago before delving into Portuguese whites namely, Rabigato, Vioshno and Gouveio.

Let’s try the Três Bagos red. Black cherry in colour. Loads of black fruit on the nose, but pretty persistent notes of dates and figs.

Pretty serious and conservative on the palate. The most noticeable is an excellent balance of tannins and acids accompanied by some raspberry, chocolate, and herbs.

Quite frankly, this wine comes up a bit short on the taste buds but, with some decanting, the wine picks up some complexity and a tad of sweetness on the palate.

It’s definitely a young buck as a 2015, and might gain a bit more character over the next few years, but it just lacks the stuffing to justify the wait. On the other hand, some exposure to air transforms the wine into a bit of a snake charmer.

Great with red meats, pork, and any pasta with tomato sauce, preferably spicy. Now, if you buy wine in the USA, you’ll see a mandatory disclosure concerning drinking and pregnancy. In this case I’d suggest, “Do not open, pour, and drink right away. Decant for 15 minutes prior to consumption.” (Três Bagos 2015, D.O.C. Douro, Lavradores de Feitoria, Sabrosa, Portugal, 14%, 750 mL, Square Media Group Rating 89/100). The somewhat usual Douro suspects of Tinta Roriz, Touriga Nacional, and Touriga Franca.

The red Douro Colheita 2103 is a combination of black and purple in colour. Black cherry and blackberry deeply run through the aroma like a patrolling U2. A tad of red plum and black licorice.

On the palate, spicy and peppery with red plum with the blackberry and black cherry fading rapidly in the background. Politely said, both tame and austere on the palate. Slightly tannic if you are looking for it with a serious swirl.

2013 was not a great year in the Douro. Your Friday night pizza wine. (Duorum Douro 2013, Douro D.O.C., Duorum Vinhos, Villa Nova de Foz, 13.5%, 750 mL, Square Media Group Rating 87/100). Once the wine opens up, there is an interesting tad of sweetness that increases the wine to a more palate friendly beverage, and the wine develops a bit of a lavender and herb twist. This slight change of character may be hastened and enhanced by sloshing it into a decanter.

The Lavradores de Feitoria Gande Escolha 2005 has rather a grand name and aged pedigree. Black and purple colour. High toned black cherry and blackberry on the nose. A note or two of lavender and spice.

Real concentrated blackberry and black cherry on the palate. Very well measured tannins on the palate with a long finish of juicy black fruit, counterbalanced by perfect tannins. A peppery long finish.

Lavradores doesn’t mess with juicy and wild red wines. Terribly disciplined and a laser beam to grilled meats. An eleven year old wine showing such tightness is a blessing to the right food match.

Lavardores shows a tight consistency and, like many a Bordeaux, hides its fruit very well. Drink now. (Lavradores de Feitoria, Grande Escolha 2005, Douro D.O.C., Lavradores de Feitoria, Sabrosa, Portugal, 13.5%, 750 mL, Square Media Group Rating 90/100)

The Três Bagos 2009 Grand Eschola has a dark black cherry colour. Very compact black cherry doused in a generous blackberry sauce. Speaking of sauce, add some chocolate to the mix as well as cranberry. The nose is well treated.

The palate is also well rewarded with a creamy and taut black cherry and blackberry back bone. Again, a perfect mix of acids and tannins in this rather gentle wine with a short finish.

A rather Gentle Giant and thus a very well mannered and discrete Douro red. Or, perhaps from a different angle, a well cash endowed fellow, very well dressed, but not flashing his wallet around. Might pair well with sharp cheeses and, as with most Douro reds, beef and pork. The wine is so mellow and cool, no need to age further. (Três Bagos 2009 Grande Eschola, D.O.C. Douro, Lavradores de Feitoria, Sabrosa, Portugal,14.5%, 750 mL, Square Media Group Rating 94/100)

Meruge 2013
Meruge 2013

The Meruge 2013 is blackberry in colour. Nifty cutting aromas of blackberry, black cherry, pomegranate, fig, dates, and black chocolate. Soft, smooth and a bit nutty on the palate. A real smooth charmer for such a young Douro wine.

Lots of black fruit, licorice, date stuffed oatmeal cookies, and a nice little sting on the gums. A masculine and chunky finish.

As far as reds go, this is a bit of an oddball from the Douro, but it’s a real charmer in a league of its own. A rebel red from the Douro? A good sipper and enough spunk to match pork or beef dishes or. for that matter. a rich tomato sauce based dish. Even a veal and eggplant sandwich coated with tomato sauce. (Meruge, Lavradores de Feitoria, Douro, D.O.C. Vinho Tinto 2013, Lavradores de Feitoria, Sabrosa, Portugal,14.5%,750 mL, Square Media Group Rating 89/100). The grapes are Tinta Roriz, Touriga Franca, and Touriga Nacional.

The Meruge white is pale golden in colour. On the nose, absolutely tropical with big pineapple, mango, guava, cantaloupe, and juicy pear.

Full bodied on the palate with the same on the tongue as on the nose. Terrifically well balanced and a full bodied wine. I am loving this one as so many Douro whites tend to be on the light side. Great for fish, mind you.

This one is a real mouthful and a great sipper. With enough stuffing to handle shellfish, pork, and chicken. This definitely has a good touch of oak. Short finish, but it leaves a large impact behind. (Lavradores de Feitoria, Douro D.O.C., Vinho Branco 2014, Lavradores de Feitoria, Sabrosa, Portugal, 13.5%, 750 mL, Square Media Group Rating 92/100)

The Douro Tinto 2014 is black plum in colour. Discrete aromas of blackberry, black cherry, rhubarb pie, and dark chocolate.

Restrained on the palate, almost smooth. The acids are just a bit too high and it would seem the fruit is a bit lacking on the palate. There is some blackberry, coffee, black cherry, and cranberry. A short finish.

My thought is there are enough tannins to keep this a few more years and that it’s simply too young to drink now. This was not aged in oak which perhaps accentuates its youthfulness. (Lavradores de Feitoria, Douro 2014 Tinto, Lavradores de Feitoria, Douro D.O.C, Lavradores de Feitoria, Sabrosa, Portugal, 13%, 750 mL, Square Media Group Rating 85/100)

The Duorum 2012 Riserva Old Vines sounds very fancy if not exciting. Almost black in colour. Super rich aromas of blackberry, black cherry, black licorice, and lavender. Almost creamy.

Solid on the palate with laser beams of blackberry, black cherry, and cherry Jello. Forceful, but not overwhelming tannins. Seamless integration with the wine’s acidity.

While the finish is not long it is compact and memorable. A fruit bomb on steroids. Delightful simplicity. This delight from the Douro might be good until 2025. I can only imagine it softening into a seductive beauty. (Duorum Riserva 2012 Old Vines, Douro D.O.C., Vila Nova de Foz, Portugal, Duorum Vinhos, 750 mL, 14%, Square Media Group Rating, 95 /100)

Once again a Lavradores de Feitoria by the name of Quinta Da Costa. Lavradores is a group of 18 Quintas (estates) spread out through the Duoro, this one being from Quinta Da Costa Das Aguaneiras.

Black plum coloured with notes of sweet black cherry and blackberries aggressively attacking the nose. It’s tannic but only if one is really looking for it by swirling and gurgling. Otherwise it’s really well balanced as to tannins and acids and is fairly smooth.

On the palate, black fruit abounds, but in a discrete way. As it opens up, its taste becomes less discrete and a bit more complicated in a simple sort of way. Could we say this wine is a bit of a chameleon? Not easy to read.

I’d prefer to quaff with food such as Chicken Contadina with some hot Italian sausage. (Quinta Da Costa Das Aguaneiras 2012, Douro, D.O.C. , 14.5%, 750 mL, Lavradores de Feitoria, Sabrosa, Portugal, Square Media Group Rating 90/100)

Was there some television show in the 1960’s named Space Family Robinson with a weird robot raising its arms and saying, “Danger”? Well I might be that robot and warn you about Vintage Port.

Only made in the best years, it is seductively smooth and fortified with spirit to arrest its fermentation hence keep its alcohol limit high. Usually in the 20% or so range.

Vintage Port has been stereotyped as some exotic after dinner drink for crusty old British club members. But, It can be a stellar match for venison and beef on a main course basis.

The Duorum Vintage Port 2011 is almost black in colour. Ultra ripe black cherry and black cherry rule the roost. The high alcohol limit just about burns the nose.

Terribly seductive and smooth on the palate, like some Iraqi Scud that has finally hit its mark. Enormous black fruit on the palate, just about numbing it with its 20% alcohol.

Smooth and deadly and best suited to venison and rare beef. Forget the cigars and blue cheese.

Vintage Port almost always blows one away. It is red wine altered to perfection. Quality control makes any Vintage Port a privilege to taste. Pardon the comparison, but it’s an orgasm of red wine.

Forget Bordeaux or Burgundy. Vintage Port rules the roost for red wine. (Duorum 2001 Vintage Port, Duorum Vinhos, Vila Nova de Foz, Portugal, 20%, 750 mL, Square Media Group Rating 94 /100)

Well, we finish off with a Lavradores de Feitoria 2015 white from the Douro. Pale golden colour with aromas of pear, peach, apple, and honeydew melon.

A bit thin on the palate, with notes of apple, peach, and mango, but with a little push of acidity. A great wine? No. A good wine with local whole grilled fish? Yes.

Particularly with lemon and, may I say, a good substitute for Vinho Verde.

After all, when in the Douro, match the wine with the source of the fish; the Atlantic off Porto.

(Lavradores de Feitoria Douro Branco 2015, Douro D.O.C. 12.5%, 750 mL, Lavradores de Feitoria, Sabrosa, Portugal, Square Media Group Rating 84/100). Great for simple grilled fish. Let’s just say for grilled sardines this is what you are looking for!