At London Branch we arrange a wide variety of wine tastings of different kinds. The aim of this tasting, led by Keith Ellis, was to show good value Portuguese wines for current drinking, that were not expensive and which were readily available if we wanted to buy any that we had particularly liked.
In the twenty or so years since Portugal joined the EU, it has become an exciting and innovative wine region. It is Europe’s fifth largest wine producer in terms of volume, with amazing diversity – whether the types of wine, the regions with different climatic and terroir conditions, or the grape varieties, with hundreds of indigenous grapes as well as classic varieties.
Tonight we tasted nine wines. We learned the prices after tasting, and making our own guesses. In general we over-estimated – which goes to show!
Keith gave us helpful information about the wines as we went along. He had also kindly prepared notes – which he handed out afterwards, so that we would have no preconceptions as we tasted.
Planalto Reserva, Douro, 2018, 13% Majestic, £9.99 per bottle, £6.99 Mix Six
This crisp dry white wine had been vinified in a contemporary style to preserve the fruit aromas and flavours, mainly citrus, also pear and melon. It consisted of a blend of local Douro grapes. It was a good wine for summer slurping!
Lobo e Falcão Branco, 2017, 13%, Laithwaites, £9.99 per bottle, £8.99 to mix 12
Another fresh white wine for drinking now, this one from the Tejo region, a little more sophisticated and aromatic. Medium dry, it was a blend of local grapes Fernão Pires, Alvarinho and Muscat. its aromas were of peaches and orange blossom, with stone fruit flavours on the palate, and a hint of spice.
We then moved to red wines.
The Sardine Submarine, 2018, 13%, Waitrose, £7.49
This wine was from the Tejo region, a blend of Castelão, Syrah, Alicante Bouschet and Aragonês grapes. The flavours were fresh berry fruit, with a long smooth after-taste. There was a sting to the taste. A wine for hearty drinking, it is suggested that it is best drunk chilled – and that it goes well with grilled sardines!
Carlos Lucas Ribeiro Santo Dão, 2017, 13%, Wine Society, £8.50
This was a medium bodied wine, clean, fresh and balanced, for easy drinking, made from local grapes in the Dão region. Its colour was bright. Aromas and flavours were herbal and cherry with a slight hint of the new oak used. We really liked this agreeable wine – such good value!
Adega de Redondo Real Lavrador Alentejano, 2018, 13%, Wine Society, £5.95
The Adega Co-op Redondo, which produces this medium-bodied wine for drinking now, is one of the largest producers in Alentejo. Again, it was made from grapes indigenous to Portugal. No oak, smooth and balanced, a bramble fruit palate. A star at the price!
Old Vines in Young Hands Tinto, 2016, 13%, Wine Society £5.95
Another bargain, from the Douro Valley, made by the local co-operative in Villa Real, which sourced the combination of indigenous grapes from many wine growers across the region. For drinking now, no oak, smooth and fragrant, perhaps a rather raw finish.
Castelo do Vinteiro, Douro, 2016, 13.5%, Laithwaites, £10.49 per bottle, £7.99 to mix 12
From the Douro Valley, this full-bodied wine was very dry. The aromas were of figs and spices, blackberries and cherries, and the palate was silky, with some black fruit, but not a lot. It had a long finish.
Rocksand Shiraz, Vinho Regional Peninsula de Setubal, 2016, 14.5%, Laithwaites, £9.99 per bottle
The wine maker of this powerful, rich, full-bodied wine, Jaime Quendera, is responsible for winning many awards for his wine. The grapes were Shiraz, with a tiny amount of Alicante. It was aged in oak barrels, adding a touch of vanilla to the blackberry, smoky, leathery nose. The flavours were peppery, spicy and black stone fruit. The wine got better in the glass.
Ramos Reserva 2017 Vinho Regional Alentejano, 2017, 14%, Majestic £8.99, £7.49 Mix Six
This robust wine had aromas of stone and berry black fruit and spices, and a bright fruit and jammy taste, integrated tannins from vanilla oak, well balanced and a good length.
Keith had certainly met the objective. We had tasted some terrific examples of well-priced Portuguese wines for easy current drinking, and which demonstrated excellent value. They are easily obtainable – except for those already sold out, unsurprisingly! Many thanks to Keith for the selection and for telling us about them.