By Rebecca Le Good, Trainee Manager, Majestic Wine Tunbridge Wells
For a country of Portugal’s size – being no more than 600km long and 200km wide, there is a huge diversity of indigenous wine varieties grown. Much of this is due to the climate and topography in Portugal, from the warmer and drier flat coastal plains in the south, to the hillier and cooler region in the north. Wines in the south are generally rich full bodied reds, whereas in the region north of the Douro valley, fresh lively whites are the norm. In recent years huge investment has been made in Portugal to modernise wine making practices and to highlight their unique wines to the rest of the world, and we’re proud to stock a selection of what this region has to offer.
The Douro valley is of course famed for its Ports, but it is also an area that produces quality table wines made from local varieties such as Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinto Roriz (known as Tempranillo in Spain), and Tinta Barroca. These wines are similar to their fortified cousins as they display that rich full bodied character with herbs, spices and a subtle influence of oak.
Typical of this style is Crasto Douro Red 2008/9 (£9.99 or £8.49 when you buy two). A sumptuous red that is a blend of Tinta Roriz and Touriga Nacional, it is silky smooth with rich blackcurrant fruit, violets, and sweet spices, this will be great with a cheese course or a roast.
The great Port house Churchill’s have produced a lovely table wine made from a blend of Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca and Tinto Roriz that is a drier version of their port! (£10.99 or £9.49 when you buy two) Strawberries and cherries abound on the palate with subtle oak and spices; this is an elegant wine that again works well with cheese or rich red meat dishes.
Further north the cooler climate is home to the light and refreshing Vinho Verde. Quinta de Azevedo (£6.99 or £5.49 when you buy two) is a super example of this style. Light (only 11% abv) it has a fresh citrus tang, tropical fruit and a hint of flora, and retains that classic spritz or petillance that bubbles prettily on the tongue. Perfect in the summer, this will go well with salads, picnics and seafood.
Conversely in the hotter south, from the Setubal region, an area east of Lisbon, is Marco do Pegoes (£6.99 or £5.49 when you buy two). This wine is a blend of native varieties and syrah, which makes for a full bodied red that is different from the Douro wines. Bramble fruits and blackcurrants dominate with a spiciness that adds to the wine’s complexity. A hearty wine, this will be great with sausages and casseroles, or just loafing on the sofa in front of the TV with a pizza on a Friday night.
Portuguese wines are currently on a deal where if you buy any two wines, you’ll save £3, so it’s a great way to explore these unique and great value wines. If you would like to try these wines in store, our ‘Wines of Portugal’ tasting weekend is this weekend runs from Friday 18th to Monday 21st of March. So visit your local Majestic to see what they have open to try and give them a whirl!
*Prices valid until 2nd May 2011