Wines of Portugal

Every once in a while, I attend a tasting in San Francisco that features wines that might not otherwise be front of mind. This is the instance at the recent 5th Annual Grand Tasting of Portuguese Wines. 45 wineries displayed the diversity of this country’s wine, ranging from the dry red of Bairrada to the delicious whites of the Minho, and from the newly-renamed Tejo and Lisbon regions to the progressive offerings from Alentjo and Duoro.

There are many great Portuguese wines with retail prices in the $10-$20 range. Most importers of these wines are located on the East Coast, so you may have some trouble finding them locally. My advise: if you do see a Portuguese wine on a local wine store shelf, give it a try. If you want to source the ones I mention below, you might have to contact the importer, and so I’ve given their web addresses. A good overall importer who offers many Portuguese wines and will take phone orders is Melanie at or 415 674 6958 in California.

With so many to choose from, the tasting was difficult. I did not taste a wine that I did not like.

Joao Tamagnini Belo,
Sales Director-Valle Pradinhos 
 The wines from Valle Pradinhos come from an historic family-owned 350 hectare estate established in 1913. They produce wines that are blends of grape varieties that are native to the region: Touriga Nacional, Tina Roriz, Tina Amarela and Mavasia Fina, as well as wines from international grape varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon, Gewurztraminer and Riesling. I enjoyed the Valle Pradinhos 2009, a white wine from the TrĂ¡s-os-Montes region that is 90% Riesling and the remainder Gewurztraminer and Malvasia Fina. The predominance of Gewurtz makes it a well balanced wine with good acidity that is very food friendly. Tastes of peach and apple, with a bit of rose aroma, and a medium finish. 13.5% alcohol. $22/bottle. Imported by

Carm Reserva 2009 is a white wine from Douro. With a nice bit of minerality, it has intense fruit, elegant oakiness and its bright citiric yellow color from the grapes in the blend: Verdelho, Siria, and Rabigato. $25/bottle. Imported by

Cortes de Cima Family Vineyards is owned by a Danish-American couple who embarked on a sailing trip to find a place to start a winery. They concluded that the Alentejo region of Portugal was just the place, midway between Lisbon, the Algarve, and Seville. It’s been a wine growing area since the time of the Romans. On 130 hectares of vineyards, they produce several delicious wines, and it has been an adventure. Carrie Jorgensen, founder, noted that when they planted Syrah in their vineyards, they were not allowed to call it that, and so it became somewhat of a cult wine in Portugal. Now the wine is well established and the Cortes De Cima Incognito 2008 is a 100% Syrah red that is deep purple in color with ripe blackberry and plum flavors and aroma, a dark chocolate note, oak and herbs, and sweet tannins. 14.5% alcohol, $50/bottle. Imported by

No tasting of Portuguese wines would be complete without a port. The Barros L.B.V. Porto 2005 is my choice. It’s made from traditional grapes from the Duoro: Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz, Tinto Cao. There is a deep ruby color, a nice mineral touch, and intense fruit flavors with a silky mouthfeel. An aroma that shows its complexity greets your nose, and the finish is superb. 20% alcohol $22/Bottle. Imported by

For an extensive review of Portuguese wines from this Grand tasting, visit the website of fellow taster Richard Jennings at

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© 2011 Barbara Keck

For more information on dining and the wide range of activities around Lake Tahoe, see the online version of The Tahoe Weekly. This article appeared in my column "Wine Adventures" in May 2011.

Book in Process: "Mountain High Wine: The Sierra and Its Foothills".

1 comment:

  1. You have an interesting post here. Very entertaining and interesting. Keep it up.