This week I want to encourage you to try wines from Portugal. Only 7% of Portuguese wines are made from international grape varieties which means you have some new words to learn but don’t be discouraged. You will not regret trying any of the wines I mention. Indeed virtually all the Portuguese wines on the Irish market offer value for money and more importantly exciting and often exotic flavours worth exploring.
Wines from the Douro in the north are relatively easy to find but I would also urge you to explore further south around Lisbon and the Alentejo, the two new kids on the block with many new wineries.
The grapes in Alentejo are often specific to the region, although you will find Aragones (aka Tempranillo) and Touriga Nacional. Other fine red grapes in the region include Alfrocheiro, Alicante Bouschet and Trincadeira and all are worth trying. For whites I particularly recommend Arinto but also the exotic and tropical fragrances to be found in Antao Vaz and Roupeiro.
New wineries such as Herdade dos Grous, Monte da RavasQueira and Malhadinha Nova are making very exciting and individual wines and have revived many old vineyards. Maladinha Nova is well-known to Irish holiday makers as the family run a chain of wine shops in the Algarve and their kids design the delightful labels.
The one world famous wine in the region is Esporao and all their wines are worth trying especially the Esporao Reserva at around €26 (Redmonds Ranelagh, Stacks Listowel) with its smoky dark fruits and lingering complexity but also the fragrant lemon-creamy and mineral Esporao Branco.
Pink Elephant Rosé, Lisboa, Portugal — €9.99
Stockists: O’Donovan’s, Superquinn, selected SuperValu
Made from a blend of Portuguese varieties (eg Touriga Nacional, Alfrocheiro) and international ones (Shiraz, Cab Sauv) this is billed as the perfect match for spicy food. The ripe raspberry sweetness on first taste, pleasing mouth feel and weight and the crisp finish is what you would want in a rosé and also with chilli and spice flavours or with a barbecue.
Segredos Sao Miguel, Alentejo, Portugal — €9.99-€10.99
Stockists: O’Donovan’s; Redmonds, Ranelagh; Fallon & Byrne; La Touche, Greystones
Made from Alicante Bouschet, Aragonez, Touriga Nacional and Trincadeira this is a dark ruby colour with dark fruity aromas, soft generous and supple fruit flavours and a hint of tobacco and spice on the finish. Excellent value and perfect for drinking with grilled meats outdoors, or indoors with perhaps pizza.
Aviary Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2012, Chile — €9.99
Stockists: Costcutter, Carry Out Nationwide
Not a Portuguese wine but I wanted to include this last week but had no space. Aromatic nettles and lime aromas on the nose with a very crisp palate and lingering lemon-lime flavours on the palate with a hint of under-ripe pineapple. Excellent value and a good example of what Chile does best.
Monte da Peceguina 2011, Alentejo, Portugal — €19.99
Stockists: O’Donovan’s, Cork; O’Briens; La Touche, Greystones; Redmonds, Ranelagh; Deveneys, Dundrum
You may have tasted this wine in the Algarve and you should also watch out for the 2010 flower label. From the same winemaker as Segredos de Sao Miguel above this is mainly Aragones and Trincadeira. Aromatic, ripe, intense fruit and packed with juicy red and black fruit flavours and a long finish.
Monte da RavasQueira 2010, Alentejo, Portugal — €13.99
Made from a blend of Syrah, Alicante Bouschet, Touriga Nacional and Aragonez this has lovely dark red fruit on the nose and a juicy complex palate with generous fruit throughout. There is background oak and smoke flavours but mostly this is a big juicy mouthful that will cope with any char-grilled barbecue meat or roast.
Prova Régia Arinto, Lisboa, Portugal — €12.99
Stockists: O’Donovan’s, Cork; O’Briens; La Touche, Greystones; Redmonds, Ranelagh; Deveneys, Dundrum.
This is the best selling Portuguese white wine in the country and is from just north of the Alentejo near Lisbon but I include it here because it so typifies the delicious Arinto grape found all over Alentejo. Lovely lemon fresh aromas with touches of ripe pear and apricot on the palate and a crisp finish.