Tag Archives: Portugal

Portugal Redux and the Red Daily Slosh

21 Apr

Spring weather shout out to the David Wilcox fans out there. You know who you are.

Disregard my earlier proclamations stating that Spring was here because today marks the real date. I mean, Spring Is Here, Baby! It’s glorious outside, windows open, birds chirping and my keyboard singing. If you’re looking for spring recos, check out my post on that very topic.

passerelaA post or two back, I reviewed a Portuguese red and stated that I was going on a hunt for good Portuguese wines. I opened another a week back – 2009 Casa de Passarela Reserva #365557 $18.95. This is from the Dao region which is a ways south of the Duoro river – sheltered and warm, it makes Mediterrenean style reds. This blend is predominantly touriga nacional, the most commonly used grape for port. I found it a bit closed and tight at first needing loads of air. I didn’t really let that stop me. And, once it got going, it provided some strong wood influences and purple fruit. Opaque, quite sophisticated, lots of energy, and I’d highly recommend if you lean toward Tuscan-style wines.

These recommendations are for the April 26th release.

threeriversThis winter I got away a couple times to visit our neighbours to the south, as we like to call them. It was decidedly warmer, cheaper, and, when you feel like you’re on vacation (and, don’t suggest that I’m on permanent vacation again) more fun. I had maybe a bottle of wine or two. One was a great Washington red – 2011 Three Rivers River’s Red #287433 $19.95. I did not pay $19.95 – or even an exchange adjusted $19.95 – way south of that. But, I digress. This is a merlot dominated substantive wine – not with fruit but its structure – solid tannins through to the finish, a bit dry at the start, a nice vein of acidity, and the fruit I get isn’t the normal merlot reddish fruits but dark and dirty ones – maybe the syrah and cab franc in the blend. The write up suggests steak and that seems bang on. This isn’t a standing around wine. I know because I stood around when I had it. Confession: sat around. Have with food. If you’re partial to California cabs, take a peek at this. I think it will please you and remember: eat responsibly.

momopnI have been disproportionately enjoying New Zealand pinot noir lately. Our Easter dinner this past weekend featured The Ned and Te Mania – both nice examples of entry level Kiwi Pinot . Which coincidentally is the sound I hear out my window right now. The northern shrike in spring – Ki….WI…Peeeee..no. This week, there’s the pinot half of the Momo label – 2011 Momo Pinot Noir #163972 $19.95. This is an organic product. Great pinot acidity, minimal oak effects except for the tea notes that I love, and medium bodied. This is indeed a standing around wine – gravitating to leaning around – on to sitting around. It was great with a simple shrimp pasta (butter, EVOO, and garlic) but you can just twist and pour and enjoy by itself. If you haven’t had New Zealand pinot lately, pick this up. If, like me you have, pick it up anyway. Momo’s sauvignon blanc is outstanding value as well.

villacafaggioI have had a few of the 2010 Chianti Classicos and, there wasn’t one that I didn’t like. Not sure if the consensus is that it’s a good vintage, great vintage or meh. But, I think that if you pay attention and Tuscany didn’t suffer from a flood or drought, you can find great Chianti Classico in most vintages. This just in – I did a little extra research and it was a ‘great’ vintage according to the pros. This beaut of a Chianti is one that I look for every year and keep a few in my basement that seem to age very well (still have a ’98) – maybe 10 to 15 years. The 2010 Villa Cafaggio Chianti Classico #176776 $19.95 is a solid value as always – strong bones of acidity, easy tannins, and musty Tuscan scents and flavours. A friend that loves Italian reds would love this – so, MR, pick up a couple – one now and the other a few years hence. I love this! Pork roast. Actually, if you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, you’ll know that my food recommendations are a crap shoot. I presently believe that the ‘science’ of pairing is a bit overblown. But, I am open to arguments to the contrary. I find that if you love the wine and you love the food, you’ll probably like the match.

faustinoReaders’ feedback suggests that they are most interested in everyday priced wines. I have a splurge category but haven’t written much on splurges to focus on more affordable quaffs. I listen to my readers (all 7 of them). But, I just couldn’t ignore a stunningly elegant wine like the 2001 Faustino I Grand Reserva #976662 $32.95. A Rioja Gran Reserva must age at least 5 years, 2 of which has to be in oak barrels. Had this a year ago and it still carries lots of pep – not flabby or easy – still demanding your attention. I can’t really see how this couldn’t age gracefully (like Sophia Loren?) another five or so years. Wait that doesn’t sound right. Of course, we want Sophia to age for more than 5 years. Back to the wine – powerful and smoky, nervy, lipsmacking good. And, lots of fruit especially after the swallow –  long finish. If you’re a fan of shelf talkers, this one will probably have a 97 on the tag. And, oh yeah, it was Decanter Magazine’s Top Wine of 2013 (out of 3,200 wines tasted)! Sometimes, you spend a little extra and ask, “Why did I bother?” this will not invoke that sentiment, rather “Why didn’t I splurge for more than one?”

TTFN

Portugal and The Red Daily Slosh

27 Mar

OK, the somewhat whispering voice is laughable but the story and pictures are spectacular. No?

I follow a bunch of people on Twitter and this week there was a thread about wine and, in particular, Portuguese wine. I have always loved Portuguese wine. But, I have to admit, I haven’t had much over the last few years. Oh, I have a glass of Port if my friend Rod offers (which he doesn’t nearly enough) but I mean unfortified Portuguese wine. Not sure why I’ve jumped off the Portuguese bandwagon. Actually, I came out of my first formal tasting with a case of wine from Alentejo. So, it’s time to put my money where my typing finger is. That doesn’t sound quite right but I think you get it.

So, I wandered to my local monopoly store and shopped for some value priced Portuguese wines. The good news? There were lots. The bad news? There were lots. I’ll talk about these over the next month or so.

montefinoFirst up is a wonderful wine – 2005 Montefino Reserva #165519 $17.95. This is a wine made from a blend of Trincadeiro, Alicante Bouscet, Aragones and Touriga Nacional. Don’t be too blown away by names that may be unfamiliar – just jump in. After all Aragones is just Tempranillo (and, we all love it) and Touriga Nacional coming in small berries with intense flavours and darkness makes great reds as well as being the preeminent grape in Port. This wine comes from Alentejo, a large wine making area that is also home to cork trees that sacrifice their skin so that we can enjoy popping a cork rather than unscrewing a top. Now, this wine has enough sediment in it to scare some off. Don’t be, just decant for that purpose alone. The wine doesn’t need a decant to settle or anything but you don’t want to choke on whatever has broken down and been accumulating over the last 8 years. How do I know? Let’s leave that for another time. The wine is medium to full bodied but has a hard to describe lightness to it that was my first impression (after the sediment, that is) that’s a great attribute – fresh and easy drinkin’. It’s well balanced and those that find some of my recommendations too ‘heavy’ won’t find this one that way. The label says, “This fresh and aromatic wine, consumed in moderation, exists to bring pleasure to those that drink it.” Well said. I felt warm all over and inclined to be not so – moderate, that is. It’s a potential case lot for sure but there are limited quantities out there. I’d suggest that you click on the inventory number to see what’s in your neighbourhood. And a shout out to Vera! Stay tuned.

These next ones are for the March 29th release.

barahondaAnother Iberian value this time from Spain is the 2011 Barahonda Sin Madera Monastrell #366823 $15.95. I first had this wine as an on-line order sight un……..drunk. I loved it. It’s gone. Time to reload. It’s made from Monastrell. Monastrell is really just Mourvedre that’s escaped across the border from France. Or maybe vice versa? This is a wine that doesn’t see wood – so stainless steel all the way – bringing you the fruit first but I like the fact that there’s a hardness, a spine, to it – minerality and tannins. It’s pretty intense, flavour-wise and I experience it as full-bodied. Like the one above – it’s warming and, I think, a perfect wine for friends and Iberian food – like, say, carne de porco à alentejana (never had it but scooped it right out of Wikipedia). But seriously, we have a diner in London called Rei Dos Leitoes that, frankly, has the best barbecued chicken and pork in the area. Pick up a dinner from there (chicken, pork, BBQ, piri piri) and crack a couple of bottles of this wine with friends. Perfect.

wakefieldI had lunch with some friends yesterday and one commented that he appreciated cabernet sauvignon when he was supposed to be working on his graduate school stuff. Thanks for that, Jeff, I don’t feel so unprincipled now. A good value cabernet that takes us away from those magnetic California shelves is the 2012 Wakefield Cabernet Sauvignon #744235 $17.95. This is a pretty big wine in my mind. It’s got some heat from the alcohol (although only 14%). Is it just me or is there higher and higher alcohol content? I don’t like that the wines we see now are all over 12.5% as a matter of course and some of the bruisers are 14.5% to 15.5%! What’s wrong with getting just mildly buzzed? What? Anyway, this has some heat but it isn’t to the extent that it interferes with the big dose of flavours – dark fruit, mocha, maybe even some herby stuff – wait, definitely herby stuff. Not heavily oaked or tricked up. This is not a party wine. I repeat – eat with this. Something burnt and chewy – leave the fat on and the tannins will break it down and rinse it up. I like this for the cab lovers out there. Even ones that drink while doing grad school projects.

And because you all love boogie down music. I couldn’t help myself.

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