Montefino 2005 – Alentejo, Portugal

You’re not ready for this wine.  You won’t believe it exists.  But, like the devil, it believes in you.  Yes, that is balsamic and cherries on the nose.  Soft acid, dark fruit, dried prunes, and a hint of rosemary-like vegetal greet the front palate.  Exquisitely balanced tannins shore up the structure, focusing the flavors.  Faint pepper and spice play on the mid palate, reminiscent of the haunting spice of the ubiquitous piri-piri.  Cherries and florals form the long finish for this tawny beauty.  I’m not the genius that found this wine – thank Nuno Santos of Wine Bar do Castelo for that – but you’re welcome, nonetheless.

  • Rating: Impressive
  • Name: Montefino 2011
  • Winery: Francisco B. Fino, Soc. Agricola, LDA
  • Region: Alentejo (non-DO)
  • Country: Portugal
  • Varietals: Trincadeira 25%, Aragones 25%, Alicante Bouschet 25%, Touriga Nacional 25%
  • Price: $?
  • Where to Buy: Lisbon

Meruge 2011 – Douro, Portugal

Cherries, burnt sugar, and florals on the nose.  Concentrated dark fruit and leather, with mineral and briny notes on the palate.  Very well balanced, with just the right tannins on the backend and a somewhat dusty finish, like musty old leaves.  A gorgeous wine.  I hauled this one back from Lisbon in my baggage a couple of years back and do not recall what I paid for it.

  • Rating: Impressive
  • Name: Meruge 2011
  • Winery: Lavradores de Feitora
  • Region: Douro
  • Country: Portugal
  • Varietals: Tinta Roriz, Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional
  • Price: $?
  • Where to Buy: Lisbon

Sidónio de Sousa 2009 Baga – Bairrada, Portugal

100% Baga. A traditionally fermented Portuguese table wine, fermented in clay ancas with traditional maceration (i.e. trodden). Crushed cherries and violets on the nose. Chocolaty, velvety body with red fruit and a hint of vanilla flavors. Tough, Portuguese tannins give it a lot of structure. Faint slate and coffee notes on the finish. I picked this up at Brooklyn Wine Exchange for around $35-40. Solid, but I won’t buy it again at that price point. The M2, which we drank along with it, kicked its ass thoroughly. In fact, this wine and its Robert Parker 92 point rating is the poster child for why I started this blog: meaningless ratings by people who have sold their name to producers.

  • Rating: Impressive
  • Name: 2009 Baga
  • Winery: Sidónio de Sousa 
  • Region: Bairrada
  • Country: Portugal
  • Varietals: 100% Baga
  • Price: $35-40
  • Where to Buy: Brooklyn Wine Exchange, 138 Court St, Brooklyn, NY 11201

Herdade dos Outeiros Altos Vinho Biologico 2012 – Alentejo, Portugal

60% Alfrocheiro, 10% Trincadeira, 30% Aragonés certified organic. Another installment of the Portuguese table wine journey. This one, a blend of indigenous grapes and Aragonés (which is either Garnacha or Alicante Bouschet in drag, depending on who is talking, but Spanish regardless), attacks the front of the palate with juicy red and dark fruit with a floral punch. Violets and ripening raspberries on the nose followed across the tongue by the aforementioned fruits and slightly green plum, fig, cherry, mossy black rubber, and chewy tannins. These all sound rather dank, but the balance is good and body medium. I picked this one up at Brooklyn Wine Exchange for about $18-20 and it was a rockstar with goat cheese and mushroom tortellini.

  • Rating: Everyday Reds
  • Name: Vinho Biologico 2012
  • Winery: Herdade dos Outeiros Altos 
  • Region: DOC Alentejo
  • Country: Portugal
  • Varietals: 60% Alfrocheiro, 10% Trincadeira, 30% Aragonés
  • Price: $18-$20
  • Where to Buy: Brooklyn Wine Exchange, 138 Court St, Brooklyn, NY 11201

Víuva Gomes Collares Branco 2010 – Colares, Portugal

IMG_2586100% Malvasia. An interesting little wine from the Colares wine region of Portugal. Squished between the hills of Sintra and the Atlantic ocean, the region is home to vines that – like the vines used for this wine – were never grafted because they grew too close to the sea for phylloxera to take hold. Like many Portuguese whites, a flinty, mineral character with some breezy ocean notes on it. I drank this with friends who also tend toward reds and it really caught everyone’s attention. I picked up a 375ml at Astor Wine and Spirits in the East Village, NYC for around $35.

  • Rating: Impressive
  • Name: Collares Branco 2010
  • Winery: Víuva Gomes
  • Region: Colares
  • Country: Portugal 
  • Varietals: Malvasia de Colares
  • Price: $35
  • Where to Buy: Astor Wine and Spirits, 399 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10003

Crasto 2013 Douro – Douro, Portugal

IMG_259835% Touriga Nacional, 30% Tina Roriz, 25% Touriga Franca, 10% Tinta Barroca. Nice red fruit up front, strawberries and cherries. Crushed violets into a peppery finish. Just enough tannin to hold it all together with a smack of leather. One of the more well-balanced and accessible Portuguese offerings. This wine doesn’t knock your socks off, but it’s well-rounded and can go well with a lot of things, from tomato pasta sauces to smoked or grilled meats. Ranges from $12-16 as carried by Whole Foods on P Street.

  • Rating: Everyday Reds
  • Name: Crasto 2013 Douro
  • Winery: Quinta do Crasto
  • Region: Douro
  • Country: Portugal
  • Varietals: 35% Touriga Nacional, 30% Tina Roriz, 25% Touriga Franca, 10% Tinta Barroca
  • Price: $12-$16
  • Where to Buy: Whole Foods, 1440 P St NW, Washington, DC 20005