In part two of my exploration of Portuguese wine varieties, with Portugal Vineyards, I dive into sparkling wines, Port and the Companhia Agricola do Sanguinhal producers in Lisbon. No Vinho Verdes this time, but there are a couple more Duoros to check out.
First off, I must say I was particularly impressed with the sparkling wines, which proved to be excellent value for money and a fine alternative to more expensive varieties from France and the UK, as well as being a nice change from the usual Cava and Prosecco. I also enjoyed the Port, but then you can’t really go wrong with a decent, aged Port can you. Especially over Christmas.
It was also good to sample two very contrasting whites, both from the Lisbon region, although unfortunately the reds weren’t to my taste. The Touriga Nacional grape is the common factor here, which is used to provide structure, body and tannin in the blend. Admittedly, I am hard to please with reds, but perhaps this grape is just not for me — or maybe, like for example Pinot Noir, you have to spend more to get the best from it. Anyway, here are my notes on the wines…
Positive Wine Flutt Baga Blanc de Noirs Brut Sparkling
Hailing from the small, narrow Bairrada region on Portugal’s west coast, this great value bottle of fizz is made with the Baga grape variety in a similar way o Champagne. And, for the money, it’s surprisingly close in flavour to Champagne too. Crisp and dry, this is well worth a try if you’re bored of the usual Cava or Prosecco.
€5,53. 12.5% volume
Vinhos Borges Fita Azul Exclusive Super Reserve Brut Sparkling
From the rugged, hilly, historical Trás-os-Montes region in the north-east of the country, this one’s made with a blend of Gouveio, Malvasia Fina, Côdega de Larinho and Arinto grapes — none of which I’m particularly familiar with. But this one surprised me with its elegant and complex “on-the-lees” flavours of dry, biscuity Champagne fizz. Definitely one for a special occasion on a budget.
€8.41. 12% volume
Vinhos Borges Fita Azul Passion Rosé Sparkling
Here’s another one from the Trás-os-Montes region (pictured above). This time the grapes involved are the slightly more familiar-sounding Tinta Roriz and Touriga Nacional. Here we have pleasant light, summery strawberry, cherry and peach flavours. A suitable picnic wine, this one.
€5.89. 12% volume
Bulas 10 years White Port
And now onto the Ports, which were delivered to Ninja Mansions just in time for Christmas. This Bulas ten-year-old comes with the characteristic flavours of honey and dried fruits that you expect from this classic wine. Made with Viosinho, Côdega de Larinho, Rabigato and Malvasia grapes, it’s perfect with a slice of Christmas cake or, failing that, a mince pie.
€16.30. 20% volume
Bulas 20 years Tawny Port
It’s Touriga Nacional again. But this time in the form of a delicious 20-year-old tawny port. It features alongside its friends Touriga Franca, Tinta Barroca and Tinta Roriz. This is, in many ways, the king of Portuguese wines, and you’ll know what to expect if you’re a fan of aged Madeira wine. You can’t really go wrong with this one. NB: perhaps due to the festive rush, the 20-year-old seems to be unavailable on the Portugal Vineyards website at the time of writing, although you can still get the 10- and the 20-year-old versions.
€31.18. 20% volume
Bulas Reserve Red 2016. Duoro
This Bulas Reserve, blended from Touriga Nacional and Old Vines, has some reasonable red fruit and violet aromas, but it was a bit thin tasting for me, with not a huge amount of body or character.
€13.67. 14% volume
Companhia Agricola do Sanguinhal Quinta de São Francisco Red 2018
From the capital Lisbon, and made from Castelão, Touriga Nacional and Aragonêz grapes, this poured out a nice deep colour, with dark fruits, a slight smokiness and a touch of sweetness too. But, again, the style wasn’t really for me.
€8.27. 13.5% volume
Companhia Agricola do Sanguinhal Sanguinhal Syrah Touriga Nacional Red 2016 Another one from Lisbon, this time a mix of Syrah and Touriga Nacional. This one was my least favourite, with a strong sulphite and saline taste. I wonder whether perhaps the wine had a fault, but it didn’t taste great, I’m afraid. There were some similarities in character to the previous Lisbon wine, but this one lacked the sweetness to counteract the more bitter flavours.
€12.79. 13 5% volume
Companhia Agricola do Sanguinhal Red 2016
This last of the three Lisbon reds was my favourite, probably due to the addition of Petit Verdot and French oak to the Touriga Nacional, giving it a nicely familiar hint of the Bordeaux style. Like I said earlier, I’m pretty hard to please when it comes to reds and perhaps I’m just not used to some of the more distinctive flavours of Portuguese styles (we don’t actually get many Portuguese reds in the UK), but I’ll keep an open mind and I’m open to furthering my research. So finally… onto the whites.
€12.79. 13.5% volume
Companhia Agricola do Sanguinhal Quinta de São Francisco White 2020
These final two white wines are both from Lisbon but are very different from each other. This one, made from a blend of Vital, Fernão Pires and Arinto grapes, is light, citrussy and refreshing, with some stone fruit notes from those long ripening times. Nothing spectacular, but decent value at this price.
€6.59, 12.5% volume
Companhia Agricola do Sanguinhal Sanguinhal Chardonnay Arinto White 2019 And finally… a Chardonnay. Well, a Chardonnay with a touch of Arinto mixed in, to give it some lean acidity. I liked this one. While it’s distinctively Chardonnay, with that full, oaky, almost creamy body you associate with the grape, the Arinto gives it a distinctive twist – in both colour and flavour.
€7.65. 13% volume
If you fancy sampling a range of wines from Portugal, all of the above are available for delivery from the Portugal Vineyards website.