Portugal: Douro, Alentejo and Vinho Verde

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When thinking of Portuguese red wine Douro is king. Great value if you know your labels. You can do equally well whether it’s $12.95 or $27.95.

Is this boina 2016 a Douro King?

It has a most untraditional Douro label. Looks like it is directed to attract the younger wine drinker or for someone looking for something different.

In colour black cherry if not a bit purplish.

On the nose there is the firmness one expects from a younger Douro red. Black cherry, black currants, cherry liqueur and freshly made pancakes.

On the palate somewhat austere with medium tannins. The fruit is tight with black cherry and blackberry barely discernable and well hidden. Again rather characteristic of well made young Douro reds. This red is a baby that will blossom into a pin-up model after another five years. But for the present good with grilled goat, lamb or beef. Not a particularly suitable sipping wine. For the time being you’ll need food with this one.

The finish may be short and compact but it has a hidden power source to match the foods I have mentioned.

This wine will be king in a few years but for now it’s the Dauphin.

(boina 2016, D.O.C. Douro, Aguiar de Morais, Vaz & Olazabal, Ferreira, LDA, Torre de Moncorvo, Portugal, $27.95, 13.5%, 750 mL, LCBO # 575380, Set The Bar Rating 91/100).

If the Douro is king of Portuguese red wines Alentejo wines are waiting in the wings for their red wine coronation. They diverge a bit from Douro in that they can blend in indigenous grapes such as the magical Alicante Bouschet which is originally from France but more or less dead there but active in Alentejo. In fact in a nuclear arms race I’d say it’s Portugal’s secret weapon.

We try a Terrenus 2015 which is a field blend of ten indigenous Portuguese grapes. A field blend is very old school. This means there are all sorts of different grapes in the field that are harvested and treated simply as a single wine. It is old school in that in days of old wine was wine and no one cared from which varietal it was from. Hey wine was wine! Now in our modern day we are a prisoner of identifiable  varietals grown separately. Yes they may be blended but precisely by varietal. In a field blend you may get many grapes in the blend but their percentage is not calculated. This field blend is a Portuguese niche that deserves to be exploited.

In any case this wine is a field blend treat! An anachronism that deserves attention in a varietal regimented world. An anarchist wine?

Again like the Douro wine above this blended wine is both black cherry with a purplish tinge.

On the nose it has a bit of wild in it suggesting natural yeast for fermentation. Very earthy and barnyardy. However beyond the barnyard some funky blackberry, black cherry and truffle.

On the palate a rustic rawness initially but as it develops in the mouth some rich black fruit. It is definitely a wine that is a bit unruly even by Alentejo standards. A long way from sophistication and elegance but more like an Oliver Cromwellian of wine.

Best suited to spicy dishes whether it be a pasta sauce or grilled meat. Not a sipper for sure.

I have had some super field blends in both the Douro and the Dão but this one is average and overpriced!

(Terrenus D.O.C. Alentejo-Portalegre 2015, Rui Reguinga, Portugal $25.50, 14.5%, 750 mL, LCBO # 787630, Set the Bar Rating 87/100).

Let us conclude with a Casal de Ventozela Vinho Verde. It’s a real LCBO Portuguese staple.

Light gold in colour and by the tiny bubbles on the pour you know you have a Vinho Verde in the glass.

On the nose apple, pear, pineapple and guava. On the palate high on acidity, in fact almost a fizz to it. Thin notes of peach, melon and pear. Short finish.

This might be a good wine very chilled on a hot summer day of which I have serious doubt we will have many of this year.

This wine is meant for grilled ocean fish particularly sardines.

Let’s just call this a utilitarian wine.

A blend of Arinto, Loureiro and Trajadura.

Vinho Verdes as whole are neither regal or princely. You might call it a kulak wine!

(Casal de Ventozela 2017 Vinho Verde Branco, DOC Vinho Verde, Soc. Agrícola Casa de Ventozelo, Vila Verde, Portugal $13.95, 13%, LCBO # 428326, 750 mL, Set The Bar Rating 86/100).

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