Have you ever tasted a Portuguese wine? I know I hadn’t until last Tuesday. And apparently that is the unfortunate norm. Although Portugal has a wide range of delicious vintages they are extremely underrepresented by American wine sellers. And as a result, we, the American wine drinking public, have been missing out. Hopefully, that is about to change.
Last Tuesday I attended a Wines of Portugal seminar taught by Master Sommelier, Doug Frost. The class was extremely informative as well as entertaining. Doug provided us with a thorough view of Portuguese history and geography, while relating it all back to the country’s diverse wine producing regions. I learned about how the country’s different regions, effected by coastal breezes and water (ocean on one side, Mediterranean Sea on the other) as well as mountainous and hot sandy climates in the middle of the country, allow it to produce a wide variety of grapes and wines.
The result of these unique geographical circumstances? Some truly delicious wines. One thing I learned from Doug is that we each have unique tastes and palates. I now know that I have a low sensitivity to acid. Portugal is famous for having a high acidic base to many of their wines. Think Virginia’s Viogniers, New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs or German Rieslings as comparable options. I had never made this connection before, but these are some of my favorite types of wine, which is why I loved the majority of the Portuguese wines I tasted. The takeaway from this class is that by drawing more attention to the Portuguese wine industry, people will start asking for these wines to be made more readily available. So next time you do see a Portuguese wine listed on a wine menu, take a risk and try it. My guess is you won’t be disappointed and hopefully these wines will become a mainstream commodity here in the States.
Three great reds and a 20 year old Tawny Port. Served with the 3rd course, but the port wine was more for the dessert course.
Range’s bread basket included a tasty and diverse selection. On the right, you can see the smoked strawberry creme cheese and Old Bay butter.
First Course: Yellow Fin Tuna with Soy, Lime and Jasmine, Hamachi Hearts of Palm with Pequillo Peppers and Green Garlic.
Second Course: Braised Meat Ragu, Goat Cheese Seamless Ravioli.
Third Course: Roseda Beef Rib Cap Steak with Roasted Carrots. Oyster mushrooms were not include on my plate due to an allergy.
Dessert Course: Mexican Hot Chocolate and Espresso RANGE Chocolates.
I recently had the wonderful fortune of sitting in on a Full Circle Wine Solutions master class wine luncheon at Bryan Voltaggio’s restaurant, Range. The theme was “An Exploration of Portugal’s Wine Regions and Varietals.” Each course was paired with 4 wonderful Portuguese wines. We were even sent home with the book (wine journal that includes distribution information) 50 Great Portuguese Wines by Doug Frost.The food, the wine, and the pairings were spectacular. We really should get the word out about how good Portuguese wines can be.
I could just sit here and some of the delicious 2012 Quinta da Raza Raza Vinho Verde (green wine) right now! Then, I’d start on a the other vinho verde, 2012 Adega Cooperative de Ponte de Lima Adamado. I do love vinho verde, and yes, they are named for lushness of the region. I was also very much enjoyed the third course wines (including the tawny port that was served with them in advance of the dessert course).
The wines we sampled included:
2012 Quinta da Raza Raza Vinho Verde
2012 Adega Cooperative de Ponte de Lima Adamado Vinho Verde
2009 Campolargo Arinto, Bairrada
2011 Jose Maria da Fonseca Domingo Soares Franco Verdelho Peninsula de Setubal
2011 Esporao Reserva White, Alentejo
2009 Quinta do Mondego Red, Dao
2010 Quinta S. Joao Batista Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon-Touriga Nacional, Tejo
2010 Luis Pato Vinhas Velhas, Bairrada
2009 Tahora Medeiros Tonto, Aentejo
2009 Joao Portugal Ramos Conde de Cimioso Falua, Alentejo
2009 Quinta do Portal Touriga Nacional, Douro Valley
2009 Durum Reserva Old Vines, Douro Valley
Graham’s 20 Year Old Tawny Port, Douro Valley