Earlier this year I predicted that Portuguese wines would be the breakout juice of 2010. Which, in retrospect, is kind of funny considering the country has been pressing grapes into service since what seems like forever. Portugal’s time is now, though, especially when it comes to wallet-friendly red wines.
It has had some liquid success. Port (the classic fortified wine), Vinho Verde (a zesty white style) and good old Mateus (a rosé worthy of more respect) are well-established; but its reds have never been taken as seriously as those made by its European neighbours (at least among the masses).
I still say that will change this year; especially when you consider that the majority of Portuguese reds deliver big, unique flavours for less than $15.
Sogrape is one of the country’s largest producers (it makes Mateus) and its Vila Regia 2007 ($8.95 – $11.99) is a great introduction to the wines of the Douro Valley. Made with many of the same grapes as port, it’s a dry, rustic red with a nice balance of oak and bitter cherry.
Also from Douro, Symington Family Estates’ Altano 2006 ($11.95 – $14.99) has a touch of raisiny sweetness flowing underneath its mature, dark plummy fruit.