With autumn now upon us in the UK, it seemed like a good time to pop open some bottled sunshine from one of my favourite European locations. Winemaking in Portugal dates back to the Roman Empire, and wine regions are sprinkled all over the mainland, from the Douro Valley to the Algarve.
The best-known Portuguese wines internationally are, of course, white Vinhos Verdes and reds from Douro, so these were the ideal starting point for my first case from Portugal Vineyards.
Although they’re based in Porto, Portugal Vineyards ship wine all over the world and carry a huge variety across a broad spectrum of prices. They also sell spirits, olive oil and… cans of sardines and tuna. They definitely have some talented tuna-tin graphic designers over there.
So, here’s a run-through of the wines the postman dropped at my door, starting with the whites. The prices are in Euros and exclude tax and, of course, delivery…
Quinta do Soalheiro, Soalheiro Alvarinho White 2020
This classy Vinho Verde, made from 100% Alvarinho, exhibits lightly flavoured lemon and lime citrus flavours on top of a touch of peach. Crisp and summery, with a solid minerality, this one is highly rated by Decanter and Robert Parker.
Quinta do Regainho, Moinho Velho Reserve White 2020
I was a bit concerned about tasting this, at such a low price. In the UK, the only wine you’d get at this price would taste like a blend of vinegar and car-battery acid. But this is a tasty, moreish, easy drinking wine. Refreshing and slightly effervescent, with fresh apple flavours – typical Vinho Verde, in other words. NB: the label on the wine I tasted was different to the one on the website, but I’m presuming it’s the same one.
Turra White 2018
This Vinho Verde is a blend of Azal and Arinto grapes, as well as the classic Alvarinho. It definitely has a creamier and less acidic texture than the other whites here, and you can taste the fact that it’s spent five months sur lie, demonstrating the varying nature of Vinho Verde wines.
Quinta da Carvalheira, Dona Paterna Alvarinho White 2017
Fresh and citrussy, this Vinho Verde is comparable in quality to the Soalheiro Alvarinho (top), and would make a great companion to seafood. It appears to be, at the time of writing, on special offer – so grab it while you can.
Quinta da Capela, Blend.pt XP Red 2017
This strong, unoaked, “old-vine” Duoro pours out an extremely deep red colour, capped with beautiful violet foam of bubbles. Its flavours are fairly subtle but very smooth, with plenty of punchy dark fruit. A crowd pleaser, this one will appeal to fans of bold reds like Australian Shiraz.
14% vol, €9.16
Quinta de Lubazim Lupucinus Reserve Red 2017
A blend of some varieties unfamiliar to me, this lupine wine mixes Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz and Tinta Barroca into a blend that combines sweet, raisiny notes with dark fruits, smokiness and dark chocolate and tobacco. A nice level of complexity, in other words.
Quinta do Vale Meão, Meandro Red 2018
With even more varietals in the mix than the Lupucinus Reserve, this Duoro blend contains Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz, Sousão, Tinta Barroca and Tinto Cão. Pouring out a lush deep purple colour, soft dark fruits intertwine with blueberry and, oddly, a slightly rubbery note.
Dona Matilde Reserve Red 2017
Another Duoro, made with Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca and Tinta Amarela. Aaah, this is the best wine on the list. Unfortunately, but unsurprisingly, it is also the most expensive. Robust plum and blackberry aromas that hit you at a distance, alongside complex smokey notes. Ageing in French oak for 18 months helps to explain the price, but this is a good example of quality Duoro.
Feuerheerds Anchor Wine Reserve Red 2018
Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinto Cão and Tinta Roriz work together in this distinctively packaged red, which wins the prize for the most tricky to open. It’s also got an unusually German-sounding name. Very deep crimson colour and velvety smooth, with ripe berry, chocolate and liquorice flavours, this was among my favourites.
So there you go. My top three medal-winners were the Dona Matilde, the Soalheiro and the Feuerheerds. I look forward to trying more soon.