Wine Reviews: Portugal

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 10-03-2021

I miss Portugal. For quite some time, I had been looking forward to bringing my family there with me to share my love of this country. But that trip was scheduled for April 2020, so…

I plan to return there next year for a long-overdue visit. It’s not just the wine that I love, but the coastline, the surf, the incredible people, the country’s history, architecture, food, olive oil… But, yes, also the wine.

Symington’s Quinta da Fonte Souto comes out swinging with an impressive white blend from Alentejo’s Portalegre region. Alentejo red blends offer a plethora of options and styles. From dark and saucy to spicy and vibrant, early-drinking to cellar-worthy, I am continually impressed with the complexity and value in wines from this region. This report includes some solid offerings for sure. Herdade do Esporão, based in Alentejo, also has some rocking, inexpensive Douro reds that continue to deliver and impress.

These wines were received as trade samples and tasted sighted.

White and Rosé

2019 Quinta da Fonte Souto Portalegre Branco – Portugal, Alentejo, Portalegre
SRP: $25
Deep yellow color. Rich but so inviting on the nose with yellow apples, apricot, along with ginger, honey, almond, topped in yellow flowers and sea salt. Nice presence on the palate, pleasant creaminess with moderate acidity to balance things out. Lemons, yellow apples and apricot, chunky but lively fruit. Complexities of honey, raw almond, some butter, floral perfume, matched with minerals, hay and talc. I love Portuguese white wines, and Portalegre in particular, and this is a great example of what this region is capable of – could age well, too. Arinto and 25% Verdelho, with 60% of the blend fermented in 500-L oak, the rest aged in a mix of new French, oak, third-year oak and stainless steel. (91 points IJB)

2020 Herdade de São Miguel Colheita Seleccionada Rosé – Portugal, Alentejo
SRP: $15
Pale copper color. The nose pops with lemons and peaches with white flowers, celery seed, lemon verbena and some chalk dust. On the palate this is crisp and bright with green apples, watermelon rind, along with mint, chalk, verbena and white pepper. Has a vibrant, spicy, fresh and food-friendly appeal. A lot going on here. (89 points IJB)

2020 Quinta do Ameal Vinho Verde Loureiro – Portugal, Minho, Vinho Verde
SRP: $18
Medium yellow color. The nose is so bright with lemons, kiwi and peaches, along with lots of flowers (daisies, dandelion, magnolia) along with some sliced cucumber and chalk dust. Crisp and salty on the palate with a crunchy, vibrant feel. Lemons, apricot and kiwi fruit mix well with complex tones of lemon verbena, daisies, dandelion greens. Such depth for a Vinho Verde, complex and really delightful. From a vineyard located in the Lima River valley, aged seven months on the lees in stainless steel. (90 points IJB)

2020 Quinta do Ameal Vinho Verde Bico Amarelo – Portugal, Minho, Vinho Verde
SRP: $18
Light yellow color. Bright, floral and lively on the nose with orange peels, kiwis and limes, topped in chalk dust, all sorts of white flowers, along with celery and cucumber slices. So vibrant and bright with a light but focused and precise appeal. Limes and lemons and apricots mix with chalk dust, floral perfume, saline. A minty, celery seed tone with a finish like a mineral-infused citrus bowl of goodness. Loureiro, Alvarinho and Avesso, aged six months on the lees in stainless steel. Insane value. (91 points IJB)


2019 Herdade do Rocim Vinho Tinto “Amphora” – Portugal, Alentejo
SRP: $18
Light purple color. Really juicy on the nose with black cherries, blueberries, raspberries, along with clove, white pepper, barbecue sauce, potting soil and dark chocolate shavings. Zesty on the palate, really impressive with its freshness and vibrancy, on a frame of dusty tannins. Tangy raspberries and blackberries, it has a juicy, crushable feel, but it is complex, too. Components of leather, pepper, smoky earth and clay add complexity. Fun, versatile, fresh – this is a reliable producer with a solid example of this traditional style. Moreto, Tinta Grossa, Trincadeira and Aragonez grapes fermented in amphora. (90 points IJB)

2018 Carmim Monsaraz Tinto Reserva – Portugal, Alentejo
SRP: $16
Deep purple color. The nose shows plum sauce, blueberries, along with smoky earth, graphite, sweet cocoa, a lot of deep elements that need time. Full and chewy on the palate, ripe and deep but shows nice grip, low acid, and a core of blueberries and blackberries. Notes of graphite, cocoa and espresso mix with violets, pepper, paved road. This begs for kebabs of grilled meat and peppers, a delightful blend of Alicante Bouschet, Trincadeira, and Touriga Nacional. Great value. (90 points IJB)

2019 Adega de Borba Tinto Premium – Portugal, Alentejo
SRP: $13
Deep purple color. Smells of lush blackberries, blueberries, with violets, tar, deep, smoky earth. Full-bodied but fresh, with smooth tannins and a plummy, chewy but pleasant mouthfeel. Chocolate-covered cherries and juicy blueberries, mixed with mint, pepper, rose petals with some earth and coffee grounds. A ripe, fun style but it holds itself well. Trincadeira, Touriga Nacional, Alicante Bouschet and Cabernet Sauvignon. (88 points IJB)

2015 Adega de Borba Tinto Reserva ­- Portugal, Alentejo
SRP: $18
Vibrant purple color. The nose shows jammy plums and black cherries, with notes of milk chocolate, coffee, but also red pepper flakes and smoky earth. Smooth and surprisingly fresh on the palate, tangy but saucy with flavors of black cherries and blackberries. Anise, charcoal, tobacco and dark chocolate tones add complexity. A fun, grill-friendly wine that has some solid complexity. Trincadeira, Alicante Bouschet, Aragonez and Castelao. (88 points IJB)

2018 Adega da Cartuxa Tinto “EA” – Portugal, Alentejo
SRP: $10
Deep purple color. Aromas of raspberry jam, plums, with smoky earth, dried rose petals, sweet violets, clove. So juicy on the palate, yet vibrant acidity, a smooth, slightly dusty yet approachable feel. Raspberries, sweet currant and plum jams, tossed together so well with barbecue sauce, toffee, espresso and chewing tobacco notes. Fun but complex and quite deep, this is such a complex and intriguing wine for the price. Notes of sage, anise and candied apple add complexity. This has lot to show for not much money. (88 points IJB)

2014 Carmim Reguengos Garrafeira dos Sócios – Portugal, Alentejo, Reguengos
SRP: $48
Light purple color. Smells of mulled cherries and plums with notes of grilled beef, roasted red peppers, tobacco pipe and some floral potpourri. Full-bodied, the tannins are structured but refined, moderate acidity. Tangy plums and black cherries mix with notes of tilled soil, graphite, roasted chestnut. Beautiful mouthfeel and focus throughout. Needs air or a few my years in the cellar, this is lovely and shows how well some of these wines can age. (91 points IJB)

2017 Herdade do Esporão Douro “Assobio” Quinta dos Murças – Portugal, Douro
SRP: $14
Light purple color. The nose sports a warm compote of red plums and black cherries, along with a spicy herbal mix, black tea, some warm clay and light roast coffee. Tangy acidity on the palate with light, dusty tannins and tart black cherry fruit makes for a refreshing, lively wine. Warm clay, black tea, peppercorns and oregano add some complexity, Fan-friendly, inexpensive, but also “serious” and offers a whole lot of value. (89 points IJB)

2018 Herdade do Esporão Douro “Minas” Quinta dos Murças – Portugal, Douro
SRP: $24
Vibrant purple color. The nose shows deep currant paste contrasted with juicy raspberries, along with notes of violets, smoky earth, lovely clove and pepper tones, too. On the palate, this shows tart acidity and moderate-strength tannins. Spicy raspberries and juicy plum fruit, laced with anise, campfire smoke, pepper, violet petals and potting soil tones. Stays fresh throughout and versatility. Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz, Tinto Cao and Tinta Franceica, aged nine months in concrete and old French oak. (90 points IJB)

2018 Prats and Symington Douro Prazo de Roriz – Portugal, Douro
SRP: $17
Deep purple color. Nose shows saucy black cherries and currants, with dusty charcoal tones, coffee grounds, anise, some pepper. Full-bodied with velvety tannins and moderating acidity, this wine sports roasted figs, saucy black cherries, but the fruit maintains a tangy edge, too. Complexities of charcoal, leather, mocha and pepper are integrated well. Accessible, easygoing texture but also complex and thought-provoking. Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz, and Tinta Barroca. (90 points IJB)

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