Wine Reviews: Portugal and Spain

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 02-13-2021

Long-time readers may have heard me sing praises of wines from Portugal’s Alentejo region, and, well, I’m here to do it again. In this report, I have a nice mix of the region’s signature saucy, spicy reds that will keep you warm and cozy during winter.

Alentejo’s Esporão produces a dizzying array of wines. In this report, I have their entry-level, widely-available Monte Velho wines, which I think are some of the best values around. I also tasted three Vinho Verdes. I love those wines when I’m sitting at a café eating shellfish in Portugal, but they’re usually (by design), simple wines. Thee three in this report are something else entirely.

I enjoy vibrant, white wines year-round, and I have a few in this report that bring a crisp, summery feel to the colder, darker months. Two vibrant white Riojas, offer a lot of complexity, value and personality.

These wines were all received as trade samples and tasted sighted.

2019 Herdade do Esporão Monte Velho Branco – Portugal, Alentejano, Vinho Regional Alentejano
SRP: $10
Rich yellow color. Fresh aromas of chalk, ocean spray in river stones, over top of richer honeyed tones, yellow pears and apricots. Precise acidity frames the well this richly-textured wine, showing balance, freshness and delicious fruit (lemon, peach, apricot). The fruit is tossed with honey, raw almond, chalk and crushed shells, notes of ginger and saltine cracker. Beautiful stuff, a perennial screaming value, case buy kind of wine. A blend of 40% Antao Vaz, 40% Roupeiro, 20% Perrum. (90 points IJB)

2019 Herdade do Esporão Monte Velho Tinto – Portugal, Alentejano, Vinho Regional Alentejano
SRP: $10
Light purple color. Aromas of juicy cherries, raspberries and plums, along with mocha, sweet roses and mesquite. Medium-bodied, light, dusty tannins, and juicy, accessible raspberry, cherry and blackberry fruit. Laced with smoky earth, sweet clove, cocoa and violets. Vibrant,  yummy, accessible, this is inexpensive but has a lot of personality. A blend of Aragonez, Trincadeira, Touriga Nacional and Syrah. (87 points IJB)

2015 Adega Cooperativa de Borba Adega de Borba Reserva – Portugal, Alentejano, Alentejo
SRP: $18
Vibrant purple. Jammy, ripe nose of black cherries and plum cake topped in milk chocolate, this is hedonistic but also spicy and smoky. Medium-bodied, has surprising acidity to help balance the plums, saucy cherries and blackberries. Notes of tar, smoky earth, anise, charcoal and dark chocolate add complexity. Tobacco and mint on the finish. A ripe, juicy, fan-friendly blend of Trincadeira, Alicante, Aragonez and Castelao. (87 points IJB)

2014 Carmim Reguengos Garrafeira dos Sócios ­- Portugal, Alentejano, Alentejo, Reguengos
SRP: $48
Light purple color. Aromas of mulled cherries and plums mix with these notes of grilled beef, cracked black pepper, olives, roasted red peppers and tobacco – lovely! Full-bodied, structured but refined tannins, moderate acidity, this is framed well and sports delicious, tangy plums and black cherries. The non-fruit flavors pop: tilled soil, graphite, roasted chestnut, anise. Still plenty of aging time ahead of it, and it opens up really well with air, and goes to show how Alentejo Alicante can age. Includes 20% Touriga Nacional and 15% Tinta Caiada. (91 points IJB)

2017 Herdade de São Miguel Colheita Seleccionada – Portugal, Alentejano, Vinho Regional Alentejano
SRP: $15
Deep purple color. Nose shows deep tones of baked figs, blueberry jam, with cocoa, mint and tobacco. Medium/full-bodied with nice grip, velvety edges to the tannins, medium acidity. Tart black cherries and blackberry compote, topped in roasted coffee, grilled herbs, violets and clove. Has nice structure, depth, even ageability, which is really impressive given the price point. Alicante Bouschet with Touriga Nacional, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. (88 points IJB)

2015 Adega da Cartuxa Évora Cartuxa – Portugal, Alentejano, Alentejo, Évora
SRP: $25
Medium purple color. The nose sports plums, blackberries and black cherries with an inviting mix of violets, tar, clove, warm clay and black tea. Medium-bodied with refined tannins that offer structure, while medium acidity gives freshness. Tart blueberry and blackberry fruit blends well with coffee, violets, anise, tar, and these deep mineral, pencil shavings and iron tones. Deep yet lively, this will continue to get better over at least the next five years. Aragonez, Alicante Bouschet and Trincadeira. This wine is consistently an awesome value. (91 points IJB)

2016 Esporão Alentejo Reserva – Portugal, Alentejano, Alentejo
SRP: $24
Deep purple color. Smoky, earthy aromas with charcoal, graphite and anise over top of dark plums and black cherry jam. Medium/full-bodied with nice, dusty tannins, chewy but lively with plums and black cherries. Notes of tar, charcoal, smoky, leather, with mineral undertones. Fresh, lively, with a vibrant finish. Aragonez, Alicante Bouschet, Trincadeira and Cabernet Sauvignon. Expressive, exciting, especially for the price. (89 points IJB)

2019 Esporão Quinta do Ameal Vinho Verde “Bico Amarelo” – Portugal, Minho, Vinho Verde
SRP: $12
Light yellow color. Aromas pop with peaches, lemons, limes, with daisies, dandelion and honey, shows depth along with the freshness. Racy, fresh and vibrant on the palate, this shows a textural depth and complexity that I don’t get often from Vinho Verde a lot. Complex peaches, lemon and quince, combined with pristine chalk, minerals and sea salt, topped in white flowers. The depth and focus are impressive, and one of the more memorable Vinho Verdes I’ve tried. Loureiro, Alvarinho and Avesso. I was shocked when I saw this price point – excellent and inexpensive. Aww, yeah. (91 points IJB)

2019 Esporão Quinta do Ameal Vinho Verde “Loureiro” – Portugal, Minho, Vinho Verde
SRP: $18
Medium yellow color. The nose shows chalk dust, saline, floral perfume, along with limes, pineapple and yellow plums. Precise acid on a racy frame, with pineapple and lime fruit, and some creamy depth that adds to the mouthfeel. Notes of chalk, potpourri and mint add complexity. All Loureiro from the Lima subregion, this has precision and complexity worth seeking out. (90 points IJB)

2019 Esporão Quinta do Ameal Vinho Verde “Solo Unico” – Portugal, Minho, Vinho Verde
SRP: $28
Deep straw color. Aromas of lemons, limes, green melon rind, new tennis ball, with honeysuckle and sea spray. Brisk and focused on the palate, a prickly and lively feel, with lemon, quince and green apple fruit. Notes of lemon verbena, daisies and honey mix with sea salt and crushed chalk. Lovely freshness and solid depth as well. All Loureiro aged on the lees for seven months, fermented in a mix of stainless steel and concrete eggs. (90 points IJB)

2019 Viña Bujanda Rioja Blanco -­ Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alta, Rioja
SRP: $15
Rich yellow color. Interesting tones of apricot, orange peel, with hay, white tea, some sea salt, dried honey. Inviting texture on the palate but also vibrant and fresh throughout, and the white peach, orange peel and yellow apple fruit mixes well with sea salt, brine, dried nuts, wildflowers. There’s a lot of pure, mineral undertones and a lot of depth in here. (88 points IJB)

2016 Bodegas Palacio Rioja Blanco Cosme Palacio Crianza ­- Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
SRP: $26
Deep yellow color. A complex, inviting blend of apricot and orange, drizzled in honey, topped in sea salt, candle wax, almond skin and white flowers. Deep texture but precise on the palate, waxy yet zesty, with lemon peel, grapefruit and nectarine, mixed in with spiced white tea, sea spray, saltine crackers, mixed nuts and honey. Complex, evolving well but this has a solid stretch of years ahead of it, too. (91 points IJB)

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