Portugal on the rise

By Ryan Fuller, Assistant Manager of Majestic Wine Stevenage

PortugalAt Majestic we always enjoy a little exploration when it comes to what we drink, and some of the Portuguese wines I’ve tried recently have proved to be among the most inspired choices I’ve made.

Don’t be put off by varieties that sound like a bit of a mouthful, the prominence of native grape varieties offers a breath of fresh air from the numerous styles of the international varieties. The complexity and value of both fortified and unfortified wines on offer will reward even the least adventurous. Improved wine-making techniques and a renewed focus on fruit concentration has paved the way for a new breed of modern Portuguese wines – from whites with enough elegance and finesse for delicate fruit characteristics to support refreshing acidity to reds with soft tannins and fruit characters working in harmony.

Just as Spain’s indigenous grapes have proved a genuine challenger to the dominance of Rioja, so Portugal’s recent vintages have been holding their own against the international varieties in both style and value. I’ve taken a real liking to wines from the Ribera del Duero in Spain recently, and many of the Portuguese wines we stock are from the banks of the very same river – known to the Portuguese as the Duoro. For those who enjoy a spot of bargain hunting, there are some real gems to uncover.

Planalto Douro White Reserva 2009  Planalto Douro White Reserva 2009/10
£6.99 or £5.49 when you buy 2 bottles

Anyone tired of the same old Sauvignon Blanc should give this a try. Intense aromas of apple blossom and citrus mingle delicately with flavours of pear and honeydew melon. Expect a refreshing acidity, magnificent with haddock and dill risotto.

Casabel Vinho Tinto 2009 Lisboa  Casabel Vinho Tinto 2009, Lisboa          New!
£7.49 or £5.99 when you buy 2 bottles

The use of steel fermentation vats has produced very intense, but very pure fruit characteristics. A bright, fresh and young wine that has a distinct nose of cherries and raspberries with soft tannins that would be a great match for a duck stir fry.

Marco do Pegões 2008 Terras do Sado Tinto  Marco de Pegões 2008/09, Terras do Sado Tinto
£7.49 or £5.99 when you buy 2 bottles

You really can smell and taste the sun in this wine. Red berry aromas rise softly from the glass and the fruit follows wonderfully through on the palate, complemented by well-structured tannins. A great value full-bodied red, it’s ideal with a rich casserole.

Ramos Reserva 2010 Alentejo  Ramos Reserva 2010, Alentejo          New!
£8.49 or £6.99 when you buy 2 bottles

Founded in 1990, this winery combines traditional techniques with modern knowhow. A very bright red wine with aromas of redcurrant and blackberry, supported by robust tannins. This would perfectly match charcuterie or any cured meats.

Crasto Douro Red 2008/2009 Quinta de Crasto  Crasto Douro Red 2009, Quinta de Crasto
£9.99 or £8.49 when you buy 2 bottles

Made from the same grapes as Port, you’ll wonder why unfortified blends like this aren’t more popular. This lighter-bodied red has wonderfully intense aromas of blackberry which evolve on the palate. Match with paella or grilled sardines for a real taste of Portugal.
Prices valid until 31 October 2011.

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