In the third in my trilogy of reviews from Portugal Vineyards, I sample some reds made with the the Alentejo grape, as well as some more good-value Douros. As I type, I’ve just got back from a trip to Madeira. And after trying all these Portuguese wines, I felt a lot more confident ordering the local wines while I was out there.
Herdade Aldeia de Cima Reserve Red 2018
This red, from the widespread Alentejo region (pictured below), is made from Trincadeira, Alfrocheiro and Aragonêz grapes and aged in French oak for nine months, resulting in a finely structured and complex flavour palate. The tasting notes recommend drinking it with “octopus tentacles” and “chick pea stew with spearmint”. That sounds wildly niche if you live in the UK — but it does sound good!
Herdade Aldeia de Cima Reserve White 2018
The white sister to the red above is from the same region and at the same price. It also contains those distinctively sweet and woody aromas of French oak, but this one is made with Arinto, Alvarinho and Antão Vaz grapes. Like most Portuguese dry whites, this is the ideal companion to seafood, with a nice acidity balanced with soft citrus/white fruit flavours.
Vinilourenço Dona Graça Reserve Red 2017
The first Douro of the crop is made with the now-familiar (to me, at least) Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz and Tinta Barroca grapes. It’s nice and fruity on the nose, but I found the strong alcohol taste somewhat harsh.
Vinilourenço Dona Graça Viosinho Reserve White 2020
The white companion to the above Dona Graca wine, for me, illustrates why I think Portugal is better at producing white wines — at least at this price point. Made with the Viosinho grape, this one represents excellent value, with its lovely dancing stone and tropical fruit flavours.
Caves Velhas Cabeça de Toiro Bulls Temptation Red 2018
From the Tejo region of central Portugal, this blend of Syrah and Alicante Bouschet doesn’t mess around. As its name, The Bull’s Temptation, suggests, it’s robust, ballsy and not entirely subtle.
Quinta do Vallado Red 2020
Now this red Duoro is a real mash-up of styles and flavours. It’s a blend of new and old grapes (five of them: Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz and Sousão), that has been aged in both steel and oak barrels, resulting in an interesting flavour palate or red fruits and violets that might not be to everyone’s taste.
FTP Vinhos Duvalley Reserve White 2018
Here’s another pleasant surprise from Duvalley (two valleys) in the Douro region, a mix of Rabigato and Fernão Pires grapes. I found this one to be delightfully soft and peachy, with succulent tropical/stone fruits. A bargain – you wouldn’t get a white wine this good at this price in the UK.
Quinta do Lagar Novo 5ª do Lagar Novo White 2019
From Lisbon, this one combines the local grape Arinto with three French classics: Chardonnay, Marsanne and Viognier. The result is some lovely floral and citrus flavours with a hint of lime. The notes recommend pairing this with sushi, which sounds like a great idea.
FTP Vinhos Picos do Couto Chardonnay White 2018
A single-varietal Chardonnay from Dão (pictured, top), one of Portugal’s oldest wine regions. It’s a reasonable entry-level Chardonnay, but nothing special and not really as good as a lot of what you’d get for this price in the Pays D’Oc.