Of Portuguese wines, I'll admit to only being familiar with port, and to stealing bottles of Lancers as a under-aged teen in Austin.
Bill Daley writes:
A Portuguese adventure | Chicago Tribune:
Portuguese sailors gained a reputation for adventure nearly 600 years ago when they set out to explore the world. Return the favor now by discovering their country's table wines, especially the reds.
Portugal's most famous wine is a fortified one, port. Americans also may recall, with varying degrees of affection, the Mateus and Lancers roses so popular in the 1970s (and still made) or they may enjoy the crisp light vinho verdes of today. But it is the reds that hold out considerable promise for years of enjoyment.
Winemaking in Portugal extends back to ancient times, and the Portuguese had an appellation system in place centuries before the French. Unfortunately, Portugal has long been overshadowed by other wine producers such as France, Italy, Germany and, now, Spain.
“Among European wine-producing nations, Portugal has been something of a paradox,” wrote Richard Mayson in “The Oxford Companion to Wine.” He noted that the country is known more for the corks produced there than for its wines.
After decades of isolation from the rest of the world, Portugal's wine industry began coming back in the 1990s, Mayson wrote, noting regions like the Dao and Alentejo “now boast some of the most modern winemaking facilities in Southern Europe
Robert Owings, owner of Vintages in Arlington Heights, Ill...:
”I warn all my customers to give them plenty of time to open up,“ he said. ”I typically open and decant them around lunchtime to serve them for dinner.“
His favorites include the $15 Adriano Red from Ramos Pinto, the ”same blend of reds that would go into port but made as a still red“; a $19 Terras de Belmonte from Abarbanel, the first kosher Portuguese wine made in 500 years; and a $25 bottle of 2000 Quinto do Crasto reserva from the Douro.
Gerhard Rohr, owner of Fine Wine Brokers Inc. in Chicago, likes Portuguese wines because they are different.
Rohr said Portuguese reds, especially those from the Douro region, have a rich, dark expression. That's because dozens of different grape varietals are permitted in the region for the production of port, he said, although the better port producers usually use just a few varieties. In any case, when it comes to red, many Douro winemakers believe in blends.
Efrain Madrigal, wine director at Sam's Wines & Spirits, said there has been an ”enormous influx“ of Portuguese wines into the United States lately. He's delighted with the quality.
One of his top picks is a $6 red blend, J.P. Tinto.
”It's a terrific value; we've sold a ton of this wine,“ he said.
Sounds like it is time for a trip to Sam's.
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