Olly’s “50 Great Portuguese Wines” 2013—
It’s easy to become settled into a style of wine, a place, a winemaker, a grape, a brand or even a special offer that just keeps luring you back. What turns me on about wine from Portugal is that it is impossible to get bored. Thanks to a climate that stretches north-south as well as a landscape that rises from the eastern coastline to the higher ground inland, there’s a trove of vineyards scattered across Portugal that are frankly so diverse that sometimes it feels more like hopping between continents than skipping around a single country.
My theme this year is ‘great value’. I’ve always supported the notion that you don’t need to spend a fortune to enjoy good wine, but when you find one with real value, character, class and that lifts your spirits, I reckon we should take our hats off to the winemaker and bow very low in thanks. It’s skill and expertise that creates wine alongside a sense of tradition, technology and of course where the wine is born – in the vineyard.
The barrage of consistently excellent wines that I tasted while delving and probing really inspired me to look closely at what makes Portugal special. And it comes down partly to being consistently surprised by quality and value but also in finding a real sense of purity pulsing through a huge number of the wines which focussed on the fruit – alive, fresh and jumping. In whites a predominant buzz came from freshness and fragrance. Reds generally delivered amazing aromatics from floral to earthy. You can lock onto these flavours to guide your expectations of Portuguese wines, but of course, there’s a whole bunch of other flavours and aromas, from traditional fortified styles of wine to magnificently exuberant snappy whites.
There were also a fair number of wines with restrained levels of alcohol, which worked in favour of flavour and finesse. Oak was generally well judged but I had to weed out certain wines due to a drenching in new barrels where a more modest approach would have, in my view, made a more successfully balanced wine. But from the numerous wines tasted for this selection, I detected a real sense of confidence in Portuguese winemaking with huge local character coming across in the wines. It’s honest, it’s unique and it’s exciting. Portuguese winemakers are alive with ideas and the rest of the world should take note and taste.
I was interested by some of bold and innovative branding and labelling and while there’s still a way to go, the wine in the bottle – which is the important part – is, in general, looking great from Portugal. The value, which is of course at the heart of this year’s selection, is never far away. But as well as finding good value, I’ve had fun tasting across the landscape of Portuguese wines and urge you to embrace the spirit of adventure and taste further and wider. Portugal is a glinting mine of wine treasures and I could happily explore the diversity of gems on offer for many more years to come.
1. Vales de Ambrães – Avesso, 2012
Region: Vinho Verde, Varietals: Avesso, Production: 10,000, Winemaker: António Sousa, Alcohol Level: 13%, RRP: £10.00
Embrace the ocean! There’s a spank of sea spray about this wine alongside some more exotic fruit flavours, stacks of verve and a mineral sheen. Zesty and fresh, it’s invigoration in a glass.
2. Casa da Senra, 2012
Region: Vinho Verde, Varietals: Loureiro, Production: 26,000, Winemaker: Antonio Sousa, Alcohol Level: 12%, RRP: £8.50
Behind its rather formal label, this showy white exudes upbeat character with appealing orange flair. Catch a whiff of its exotic aroma, dive into its flourish of peachy aromatic flavours and surf its final surge of cleansing freshness. A gem.
3. Soalheiro, 2012
Region: Vinho Verde, Varietals: Alvarinho, Production: 100,000, Winemaker: Luís Cerdeira, Alcohol Level: 12.5%, RRP: £16.99
Pow! Superbly intense, this is a summer scented nectarine-fuelled barrage of pleasure. Zesty and vibrant with citrussy verve, chug a dose of this and your day will be brightened in a single sip. If there was ever a bottle of wine that felt as exuberant as Van Halen’s 80’s hit ‘Jump’, this is it.
4. Alvarinho Solar de Serrade, 2012
Region: Vinho Verde, Varietals: Alvarinho, Winemaker: António Sousa, Alcohol Level: 13%, RRP: £8.00
Gorgeous floral fragrance, massively fresh with oodles of peachy flavour. Quite rich, very modern and although unique in its own way, dare I say it would probably appeal to fans of Sauvignon Blanc from a certain famous corner of the Antipodes. Brilliant wine.
5. FP, 2012
Region: BairradaVarietals: Bical, Arinto Production: 14,000 Winemaker: Filipa Pato Alcohol Level: 12.5% RRP: £13.85
Aaaah, this vino is steel-bright. Sip it and see for yourself the splash of freshness, like catching a whiff of the seaside on a cool breeze. Long-lasting flavours resonate on the finish and I love the concept of wine “without make-up”. Sometimes we can do too much to smother what’s there – fruit, glorious fruit.
6. Quinta da Raza Arinto, 2012
Region: Vinho Verde, Varietals: Arinto, Winemaker: Diogo Teixeira Coelho, Alcohol Level: 12.5%, RRP: £10.99
Lemon and lime blossom with a twist of more exotic rose fragance and even a secret whisp of smoke leads to a palate that’s a world of aromatic freshness. Cheery wine that’s perfect for combatting drear and drizzle, it’s decent value packed full of zing and ping.
7. Montes Ermos Reserva, 2011
Region: Douro, Varietals: Côdega de Larinho, Rabigato, Viosinho, Production: 70,000, Winemaker: Rui Madeira, Alcohol Level: 13.5%, RRP: £7.99
Phwoar, there’s a subtle savoury and moreish touch to this good value white. There’s some classic style here with decent body and zing and a brighter finish. Makes me hungry for a nibble or two!
8. Beyra Quartz, 2011
Region: Beira Interior, Varietals: Síria, Fonte Cal, Production: 12,000, Winemaker: Rui Roboredo Madeira Alcohol Level: 12.5%, RRP: £ TBC
Mineral pure, lean, fresh and delightfully crisp white wine with a modern and engaging label. This wine is all about upbeat purity with a subtle fragrance (think apples with an edge of lime) as well as the capacity to develop some richer notes. It’s good value and is spot on for gracing the UK’s picnics, barbecues and kitchen tables this summer. I reckon Beiras has a huge future and it’s brilliant to catch this uniquely Portuguese wine delivering serious quality for a friendly price.
9. Redoma, 2011
Region: Douro, Varietals: Rabigato, Viosinho, Côdega de Larinho, Winemaker: Dirk Niepoort, Alcohol Level: 13%, RRP: £18.99
Subtly scented with elegance and personality. This is serious wine, layered with floral complexity and feels balanced between exuberance and class. Like a jewel glinting with harmoniously cut dimensions, it’s wine that gleams from a mineral- fresh core, beautifully made and packaged with flair.
10. Quinta de la Rosa, 2011
Region: Douro, Varietals: Viosinho, Rabigato, Côdega de Larinho, Production: 10,000, Winemaker: Jorge Moreira, Alcohol Level: 13%, RRP: £15.00
A serious white that’s sharp as a compass with a moreish savoury finish and some rich texture thanks to maturation in barriques. What a glorious, cleverly constructed and uniquely Portuguse blend of Voisinho, Rabigato, Codega do Larinho and Gouveio. It manages to combine a sense of precision with feeling wild and totally of its place. It took my brain on a journey via my tastebuds and to be honest, I think it may have migrated permanently to the Douro Valley.
11. Pato Frio Antão Vaz, 2011
Region: Alentejo, Varietals: Antão Vaz, Winemaker: Paulo Laureano, Alcohol Level: 13.5%, RRP: £9.99
Upbeat, simple and fragrant white wine with zesty clean appeal – and the price is almost as friendly as the flavours. Summer picnics, step this way.
12. Vinhas do Lasso, 2010
Region: Lisboa, Varietals: Arinto, Fernão Pires, Production: 8,000, Alcohol Level: 13%, RRP: £12.50
Great fun, touches of blossom along with more exotic and even orchard flavours, it’s a gem of a wine for the money and punches above its price. Blended from local grapes Fernão Pires and Arinto along with international support from Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay it’s a seamless weave of zesty pleasures.
13. Dona Ermelinda, 2011
Region: Península de Setubal, Varietals: Fernão Pires, Chardonnay, Arinto, Production: 160,000, Winemaker: Jaime Quendera, Alcohol Level: 13.5%, RRP: £7.00
The bright intensity of this gently aromatic wine along with its mildly creamy texture gives it wide appeal for the price tag. With its tropical and floral flourishes it’d be lovely to sip this with a crab salad in the sunshine by the beach in Portugal – or just deploy it in the fridge for a simple weeknight sip back home in Britain.
14. Valle Pradinhos, 2011
Region: Tras-os-Montes, Varietals: Malvasia Fina, Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Production: 12,000, Winemaker: Rui Cunha, Alcohol Level: 13.5%, RRP: £10.95
Blended from Gewurztraminer, Malvasia and Riesling this rose-perfumed, fragrant and lemony wine is modern in its dynamic and fruit-propelled vivaciousness. The simple packaging is appealing and with some mineral purity, it’s a top match with gingery flavours and rather splendid with seafood. Portugal produces amazing Sushi and Sashimi and this bottle is a marvel with such fresh dishes with subtle gingery spice. Electrifying.
15. Muros de Melgaço, 2011
Region: Minho Region, Varietals: Alvarinho, Winemaker: Anselmo Mendes, Alcohol Level: 13%, RRP: £22.30
Melgaço? I say Megalicious. It’s mega in every way with a hoofing fat rich creamy texture, showing a touch of evolution as you’d expect for its age which adds a certain savoury complexity. One to pair with creamy seaside dishes. Matched with fish pie, this is scrumptious.
16. Quinta de Saes Encruzado, 2011
Region: Dão, Varietals: Encruzado, Production: 10,000, Winemaker: Alvaro Castro, Alcohol Level: 13%, RRP: £30.00
Salted cod anyone? Decent balance of zing to some more savoury notes with persistence and character. A deftly handled example of Encruzado favouring purity over richness.
17. Quinta dos Roques Encruzado, 2011
Region: Dão, Varietals: Encruzado, Production: 10,000, Winemaker: Rui Reguinga / João Santiago, Alcohol Level: 14%, RRP: £16.99
A bit of a classic take here with rich oak influence. Barrel fermented as well as being oak aged which gives creaminess, nuttiness and a savoury richness to the wine. On its own, it’s quite hefty but paired with richer fish dishes from the Portuguese coastline such as a Salt Cod Stew, this wine can show off the might of Encruzado. I’m a fan of fresher styles of Encruzado as well, but this oaky wine shows the range of winemaking styles on offer in Portugal’s host of local grapes.
18. Esporão Reserva, 2011
Region: Alentejo, Varietals: Arinto, Antão Vaz, Roupeiro Branco, Winemaker: David Baverstock, Alcohol Level: 14.5%, RRP: £12.00 – £14.00
Rich with a spanking long finish. The oak boosts richness thanks to a partial barrel ferment and there’s a smokey touch coming through on the palate. It’s big stuff with serious complexity that’s built for pairing with nosh. Lemony richness balanced with full fat zing. Have it!
19. Arenae, 2010
Region: Lisboa, Varietals: Malvasia Fina, Production: 5,000, Winemaker: Francisco Figueiredo, Alcohol Level: 12%, RRP: £9.00
This wine is so special and rare, from the smallest D.O.C. in Portugal right beside the ocean. It’s a traditional wine with a salty streak, nutty aromas and a rich texture. It’s grown right by the sea on ancient vines crawling over sandy plots which as you can imagine are under pressure from housing development. It’s traditional and utterly unique – living history but more importantly these bottles belong as part of Portugal’s winemaking heritage long into the future. I love it and I hope you enjoy the experience of tasting something so seaside-like and peculiarly special.
20. Marquês de Borba, 2011
Region: Alentejo, Varietals: Aragonez, Touriga Nacional, Alicante Bouschet, Winemaker: João Portugal Ramos, Alcohol Level: 14%, RRP: £8.99 – £9.99
Great value! A red like this shows exactly what Portugal can deliver by blending cleverly and bringing out the best of the fruit. Here, Alicante Bouschet, Aragonez, Touriga Nacional, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon join forces and unite to pump out some tangy, vibrant modern cherry-ish fruit flavours that just want to grab new friends among the world of wine fans who are hunting for flavoursome wine that doesn’t require a second mortgage to be enjoyed throughout the year.
21. Almeida Garrett DOC Beira Interior TNT , 2010
Region: Beira Interior, Varietals: Touriga Nacional, Trincadeira, Winemaker: Mário Andrade, Alcohol Level: 14%, RRP: £7.99
TNT here stands for Touriga Nacional and Trincadeira in this fun and inventive modern label concept with the fizzing fuse about to detonate from Beira Interior which is a place to watch. Of course the wine has to live up to the concept and feel just as accessible: here it excels. It’s good value, with bright berry flavours alongside some spice and fragrance and from the winery lead by Jose Almeida Garrett who, on this basis, deserves more attention.
22. Sexy, 2011
Region: Alentejo, Varietals: Touriga Nacional, Aragonez, Cabernet Sauvignon, Alcohol Level: 14.5%, RRP: £13.00
Love or hate the packaging? Personally, if it grabs attention, I’m all for it. What’s vital is the wine inside the bottle and in this case it’s more serious than you might infer from the Sexy name. It’s fruit-driven and a red with wide appeal thanks to a certain softness and also a reasonable price. It’s bound to be a talking point but for a wine that’s made ready to drink at a decent price that’s as sleek and polished as Darth Vader’s helmet, I don’t know about Sexy but it certainly makes me feel intrigued.
23. Zefyro, 2009
Region: Alentejo, Varietals: Syrah, Alicante Bouschet, Aragonez, Production: 120,000, Winemaker: Luís Bourbon, Alcohol Level: 14.5%, RRP: £ TBC
Divine modern flavour. Fragrant, sleek, nimble, spicy, upbeat vino. There’s a smoky touch along with the sleek mulberry style fruit and a long-lasting aromatic finish. Great packaging with a superbly modern eye-catching label. Grab it.
24. Altano Quinta do Ataíde Reserva, 2009
Region: Dão, Varietals: Touriga Nacional Production: 35,000 Winemaker: Charles Symington Alcohol Level: 14%, RRP: £ 13.50
From the Vilariça terroir this lilac-scented beauty is so summery it makes me feel like dusting off my budgie smugglers and diving into an ocean of this wonderful wine. It’s dreamy red wine with high-tone perfumed nuances and serious style. Touriga Nacional all the way, it’s a brilliant glass of red that just has “ignition” “lift off” and “target acquired” scrawled all over it. Slide down its fruity bannisters and feel the freedom of the Douro’s wide open spaces in a single sip.
25. PAPE, 2010
Region: Dão, Varietals: Baga, Touriga Nacional Production: 5,000, Winemaker: Alvaro Castro Alcohol Level: 13%, RRP: £28.00
Fragrant violet and herby spice on the nose and a brilliantly deft, tangy, bright style of red from a noteworthy producer. With 13% alcohol, this red is stylistically fantastic and shows what elegance is possible with careful vineyard management and winery handling.
26. Claudia’s, 2009
Region: Douro, Varietals: Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz, Touriga Nacional, Production: 4,046, Winemaker: Claudia Quevedo, Alcohol Level: 13%, RRP: £14.99
With a twist of freshness and stacks of intense vibrant spicy toasty flavours, this wine has richness, a strata of long-lasting flavours with real verve. If it’s a big personality you want, meet Claudia and her friends Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz, Touriga Nacional, Tinto Cão, and Tinta Amarela.
27. Manoella Douro, 2010
Region: Douro, Varietals: Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Roriz, Production: 10,000, Winemaker: Sandra Tavares da Silva, Alcohol Level: 14%, RRP: £16.50
Gorgeous perfume, like the pheromones of love itself! If Bacchus was on the pull, he’d drench himself in this stuff. Fragrant and beautiful silky vino with a touch of liquorice darkness alongside some cocoa and dark chocolate. It’s a marvel in a bottle blended from 60% Touriga Nacional, 25% Touriga Franca, 10% Tinta Roriz and 5% Tinta Francisca.
28. Quinta Nova – Colheita, 2010
Region: Douro, Varietals: Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz, Alcohol Level: 13%, RRP: £11.99
Something a bit different here, an unoaked red. It’s a blend of Touriga Nacional, Tinta Franca, Tinta Roriz, Tinta Cão which comes in at 13% alcohol. Expect a tangy red (think cherry and plum skins) with perfume, vibrant fruit flavours. Leaving out the oak shows the fruit naked and gives a real sense of immediacy to the wine. Great fun and a top idea to show a new edge to Portuguese winemaking.
29. F’OZ, 2011
Region: Alentejo, Varietals: Aragonez, Trincadeira, Castelão, Winemaker: João Portugal Ramos, Alcohol Level: 14%, RRP: £9.99
Scented with spicy richness, this bold red feels like a champion of the new wave of wines pouring out of Portugal. A harmonious blend of Aragonez, Trincadeira and Castelão, it’s awesome value for money and if the name makes you think “Down Under”, think again: F’OZ means ‘estuary’ in Portuguese and the name is a nod to the mighty rivers across Portugal where these guys make their wines. Feel the flow!
30. Palpite, 2010
Region: Alentejo, Varietals: Aragonez, Touriga Nacional, Cabernet Sauvignon, Winemaker: António Maçanita, Alcohol Level: 14.5%, RRP: £20.00
Outrageous perfume! I got a bit over-excited tasting this wine with ‘Parma Violets’ scrawled in my notes as though a sparrow had inked its feet and danced Gangnam Style across the page. But it certainly has that sweetly perfumed touch along with dried herbal niffs – but the palate is where the muscle kicks in. Tannic texture, charged with scented power. It’s hearty with spicy fringes, but it’s also very zesty and I find the aromatic whirl of this wine utterly compelling. Aragonez, Touriga Nacional, Cabernet Sauvignon unite in a bid to woo the very depths of your face.
31. Poeira, 2010
Region: Douro, Varietals: Old Wines, Production: 15,000, Winemaker: Jorge Moreira, Alcohol Level: 13.5%, RRP: £30.00
Glorious youthful wine with great potential for ageing. With a pleasing sense of dynamic tension between tangy fruit freshness harnessed to a fine firm structure, this intense berry-fruited supple red is youthful, alive and Sunday- Roastacular. Stick the oven on, grab your appetite and stash a bottle of this in your wine pouch. Viva Portugal.
32. Vertente, 2009
Region: Douro, Varietals: Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz, Tinto Cão, Winemaker: Dirk Niepoort, Alcohol Level: 13.5%, RRP: £16.99 – £18.99
Fresh power and complexity abound. Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz and Tinto Cão create a deftly fruited wine with a subtle pepper stash lying in wait to bring it on home. Yee-hah, a joyful red wine that feels like the Dukes of Hazzard doing their slow motion jump in the General Lee. A great value intro to top class Douro wine. I’m a huge fan of Dirk Niepoort’s approach to winemaking and a big fan of the identity of the wines which really stand out on the shelf and on the palate.
33. Casa Cadaval Trincadeira Vinhas Velhas , 2009
Region: Tejo, Varietals: Trincadeira, Production: 6,600, Winemaker: David Ferreira, Alcohol Level: 13%, RRP: £15.00
I absolutely love this quirky red – it’s 100% Trincadeira from Tejo. There’s an earthy personality to the aroma which reminds me of a subtle hint of celery with its earthy aromatic twist. To me this wine feels like a vineyard ‘unplugged’, with an enthralling performance of crunchy red fruit with lively acidity, a characteristic that can really accentuate a red wine’s appeal when appropriately balanced. For a treat of a red with individual character, there’s still value in the bottle for this much personality.
34. Tinto da Ânfora, 2010
Region: Alentejo, Varietals: Aragonez, Touriga Nacional, Trincadeira, Winemaker: Hugo Carvalho, Alcohol Level: 14%, RRP: £8.49
For value, complexity and fans of wine from the Iberian Peninsula, this one is a bit of a favourite and has made an appearance or two on Saturday Kitchen over the years. Maybe it’s time to update the label but the wine itself is a solid perfomer and this vintage is no exception. An interesting food pairing, I once matched it with a meaty curry dish so it’s worth experimenting with this wine alongside boldly flavoured recipes.
35. Duas Pedras , 2011
Region: Alentejo, Varietals: Touriga Nacional, Syrah, Viogner, Winemaker: Rui Reguinga, Alcohol Level: 14.5%, RRP: £11.49
YES! Touriga Nacional, Syrah and a squirt of Viognier pumps out that twinge of floral intrigue that, like subtle seasoning, helps to bring out the dimension of flavours here from smoky, earthy and white pepper warmth to bold dark swirling depths of fruity thrust. Bring. It. On.
36. Crasto Superior , 2010
Region: Douro, Varietals: Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz, Winemaker: Manuel Lobo, Alcohol Level: 14.2%, RRP: £14.00
Surely one of the best bargains not only in the Douro but in the whole of Portugal. Genius wine with fragrance and power. It’s brooding with dark fruit, festive clove-like spice, richness, power and flavours that just keep kicking on once you’ve sipped it, dishing out extra flavour for free. It’s the sort of brew I imagine Ming the Merciless would feed to his guards to make them extra fearless before battle. This wine belongs in your face.
37. Quinta de Foz de Arouce , 2009
Region: Beiras, Varietals: Baga, Touriga Nacional, Production: 30,000, Winemaker: João Portugal Ramos, Alcohol Level: 14%, RRP: £11.99
This red is pretty concentrated so think about pairing it with food, or ageing it for a while before sipping. Summery scents of red fruit remind me of strawberry jam, but when you sip it you get a far tighter and tangy wine with lots of fruit and firm tannin too. Paired up with a roast, you’re sorted.
38.Quinta dos Quatro Ventos , 2009
Region: Douro, Varietals: Tinta Roriz, Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional, Winemaker: Francisco Antunes, Alcohol Level: 14%, RRP: £14.99
Vivacious succulent wine with aromatic flair as well as umami and more savoury notes punctuated with darker spicing. Definitely one to pour out and decant before serving and with the potential to age.
39. Aliança Bairrada Reserva, 2011
Region: Bairrada, Varietals: Baga, Tinta Roriz, Merlot, Winemaker: Francisco Antunes, Alcohol Level: 14%, RRP: £7.49
Crikey! Another great value red with a real backbone of firm structure that would be delicious paired with a hearty meaty feast. It’s feels tight and will open with age but would also benefit from decanting after opening to round it out a bit and unfurl its full complement of fragrance and wild berry tang. Stick it in a jug and get involved.
40. Quinta dos Roques, 2010
Region: Dão, Varietals: Touriga Nacional, Jaen, Alfrocheiro, Production: 60,000, Winemaker: Rui Reguinga / Joao Santiago, Alcohol Level: 13.5%, RRP: £11.99 – £12.99
Silky fine texture with some lip-smacking tannin on the finish which makes me want to grab a feast and unleash it on this bottle. 13.5% is a pleasing balance of alcohol with finesse to the abundant black fruit flavours that glide around the glass with elegance, poise and complexity.
41. Esporão Reserva, 2010
Region: Alentejo, Varietals: Aragonez, Trincadeira, Alicante Bouschet, Winemaker: David Baverstock, Alcohol Level: 14.5%, RRP: £17.99
Sleek rich red that’s perfect for decanting with all the bold bigness of a Sunday Roast. There’s a scented stylishness when you inhale its deep layers and this to me shows off a real tenet of Portuguese winemaking which is in blending. Bringing together Aragonez, Trincadeira, Alicante Bouschet and Cabernet Sauvignon, ageing them in new and used French oak for twelve months and creating a seamless wine whose quality from any where else in the world would be tough to match for the money. Full bodied with oaky sweet spice and enough boldness to chest bump a proper British roast.
42. Cedro do Noval, 2009
Region: Douro, Varietals: Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Syrah, Winemaker: António Agrellos, Alcohol Level: 14%, RRP: £15.49
Earthy and aromatic with serious complexity and richness, this hearty bold vino with an espresso-like kick is ready to rock. It’s a decent introduction to real Douro style and delivers quality wine that’s designed to be sipped straight away. Personally I’d tip it into a jug before unleashing it to give it a real chance to show off its booty. Rib of beef, a glass of this, droooool.
43. Julia Kemper Touriga Nacional, 2009
Region: Dão, Varietals: Touriga Nacional, Production: 5,000, Winemaker: Julia Kemper and Vines & Wines, Alcohol Level: 13.5%, RRP: £24.99
This classy Touriga Nacional is a complex wine to savour with a small vortex of alluring aromatic character. Herbal spice, delightfully tight structure, it’s a wine which will age beautifully and with a touch of freshness to the finish and a well- judged 13,5% alcohol, it has a certain finesse that I just flipping love. Gift wrap it to go and let’s find the world’s most glorious view to share and cogitate with this wine.
44. CH by Chocapalha, 2009
Region: Lisboa, Varietals: Touriga Nacional, Production: 3,000, Winemaker: Sandra Tavares da Silva, Alcohol Level: 14%, RRP: £27.95
So, there’s an emblem hiding on the label that may not be entirely Portuguese… but perhaps that’s because this wine behaves a bit like like a flagship. When you board your glass, it fires a twenty-one gun salute of exuberance and shows you to a palate of luxuriously bedecked refinement. There’s an elegance to this red, a sleek quality as well as a mighty mast of fruit to hoist your sails and carry your palate on a voyage to The Isles of Intrigue. Old vine Touriga Nacional abounds in this bounteous galleon of a wine. All aboard!
45. Quinta de la Rosa Reserve, 2010
Region: Douro, Varietals: Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz, Touriga Franca, Production: 10,000, Winemaker: Jorge Moreira, Alcohol Level: 14.5%, RRP: £30.00
The feather on the label might make you think of all things floaty but this wine is anything but. It’s a roaring engine of fine-tuned seriousness. Depth, tannin, spice, aromatic flare, it’s a network of flavours and an absolute megablast of concentrated glory. It’s at the pricer end of the wines in this line up but on the world stage, it stacks up for me pound for pound with some of the very best. I could bathe in this stuff, but I’d rather drink it.
46. Quinta do Sagrado Reserva , 2007
Region: Douro, Varietals: 90% Touriga Nacional, 10% Other Varieties, Production: 3,000,Winemaker: Jose Maria Calem, Alcohol Level: 13.5%, RRP: £30.00
Behold the muscle of the Douro! It’s a mighty valley hewn by the path of a surging river and you really get a sense of ‘epic’ with this wine. It’s tannic and the structure is powerful, yet with a more modest alcohol level of 13.5% the headline 90% Touriga Nacional is boosted by a wild 10% blend of further grapes. This romping red manages to deliver a complexity, fruity appeal and serious dose of concentrated fruit flavours. You could age this rippling beauty to soften the texture and unfurl layers of savoury complexity. Right now, this wine feels like plugging your palate directly into the rocky power of the Douro Valley.
47. Henriques & Henriques, Verdelho 15 Years Old, NV
Region: Madeira, Varietals: Verdelho, Winemaker: Humberto Jardim, Alcohol Level: 20%, RRP: £19.99/£21.99
Highly tangy with a caramel sweetness and oodles of dried fruit punchiness (think oranges, raisins and sultanas) and some further lazer-like sparks and flashes of orangey acidity, this fortified wine with its baked intensification is a huge part of the heritage of winemaking of Madeira. When you consider the techniques and process of bringing these flavours to life, it’s still good value and a drink that ain’t just for Christmas, it’s built for year round enjoyment.
48. Moscatel de Favaios Colheita 1980
Region: Douro, Varietals: Moscatel Galego Branco, Production: 5,000 liter,s Winemaker: Miguel Ferreira, Alcohol Level: 18%, RRP: £30.00
Orangey with honeyed sweetness, this is a rich treasure. It’s a wine that’s over three decades old and manages to feel sweetly invigorating. Very luscious and with a huge generous texture and some burnished complexity, if you deploy this wine at the perfect moment served lightly chilled, it’s pretty much guaranteed that cuddles will ensue.
49. Família Horacio Simões Bastardo, 2009
Region: Palmela, Varietals: Bastardo, Production: 900, Winemaker: Luis Camacho Simões, Alcohol Level: 22.5%, RRP: £ TBC
Sweet and tangy, concentrated rich wine with as much intensity as a hand grenade dipped in marmalade. Bang! It’s arresting and unique, like a orange comet with sweet, enduring power.
50. Dow’s Quinta do Bomfim Vintage Port, 2001
Region: Douro, Varietals: Tinta Roriz, Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional, Production: 48,000, Winemaker: Charles Symington, Alcohol Level: 20%, RRP: £27.99
Boom! This huge fortified wine is just lush. Spicy, sweet, massively intense, it offers a bold and beautiful range of flavours. It feels like the very vineyard has been detonated and charged with force from the deep sun-burnished rocks of the Douro. With the inventive technique of fortification the fruit fuels every mouthful and for the price, it’s utterly delish. Yes you could serve a slice of Stilton alongside this, but I’m sipping it nude. By which I mean own its ownsome. Join me!