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  • An Epic Fantasy Novel - from the Writer of Red Wine Please!


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    A Few More Portuguese Wine Values

    After sort of neglecting Portuguese wines for a long time, due to a sometimes troublesome relationship with the Touriga Nacional grape, we were reintroduced to the wines of Portugal at Portugalia Marketplace in Fall River, MA.? You can read the outcome of that here.? There were some excellent, and I mean excellent, value wines that day.? Those wines were supplied by Sarmento’s Imports of Fall River, so it seemed logical to reach out to them and learn more about what we’ve been missing.? Alfred Sarmento graciously replied and met me at his warehouse, where we spent 30-40 minutes discussing Portuguese wines.? They are mostly known for their value, and we certainly found a few at the Portugalia tasting.? If you wander around that store and look at the shelves, the number of wines under $10 is astounding, with many more in the $11-$15 range.? But are they good?

    Al suggested we form our own opinion, so we’ll be evaluating a series of various reds and a few others to start with.? They are predominantly reds from Alentejano, Dao and the Douro, along with three bottles of various port styles and a few odd bottles of rose, Moscatel and a sweet dessert wine.? So we have red blends without Touriga Nacional, with Touriga Nacional and even a 100% Touriga Nacional.? If nothing else we’re going to put to bed whether we like this grape or not.? To start we kept to the Alentejano blends, which don’t use that particular grape.? We also opened some of the “others”.? One was unfortunately badly corked and was not drinkable.? Here’s what we have so far.

    Campelo Vinho Verde Rose – a simple wine, with some fruit and a fairly clean and crisp experience.? It’s IMG_0794a good summer wine, is something you can serve at parties without breaking the bank and which is OK.? It’s also $3.99 or so, which makes it more OK.? Perfectly drinkable if not outstanding, but very affordable.? Vinho Verde is huge and growing.? Sarmento’s sold 23,000 cases of the Pavao Vinho Verde last year, and that’s a lot of any vinho.

    Sodade Vinho do Fogo Passito – this is sweet and came in a half bottle.? It is dense and brings ripe fruit and some molasses to the nose and the palate.? This is smooth and rich.? It’s sort of a cross between a Malmsey Madeira and a Pedro Jimenez sherry.? It is IMG_0795surprisingly low in alcohol at 14%, you’d think higher after taking a sip.? I liked it.? If you like sweet dessert wines you probably will like this.? About $14.

    Now here come two incredible value reds:

    2006 Monte da Pestana Tinto – from the Alentejano, this is deep red in color with an explosive nose of dark monte da pestanaberries, some wood and also savory notes.? It is full bodied, with a deep flavor profile and excellent length.? We got a little grilled meat on the palate along with the great fruit.? The tannins are still firm here, and it has a few years left in the tank.? It’s really good, could be served to anyone, anywhere and checks in at about $13.99.? This is crazy good for the money.? Monte da Pestana was Jorge’s recommendation at the wine tasting and now we know why.

    2011 Morgado da Canita Tinto – again from the Alentejano, it checks in at 14% alcohol and brings a nose of berries, with some currant and blackberry.? Oak comes in on the palate, with IMG_0796some char or smoke playing subtly. There was also some cocoa.? It’s just south of full bodied, but close.? The tannins are still stiff and will soften with a year or two, you might want to decant or let it sit.? We picked it up the next day and the wine was even more complex, showing roasted bell pepper (yes, really) and stronger blackberry.? I could almost guess Syrah here, but it is certainly not that.? This is another wine you could serve anywhere to anyone with confidence.? It runs about $7.? That is not a typo.? What we have here, ladies and gentlemen, is a bonafide crazy good value and buy by the case wine.? Unbelievably good for the money.? Great for twice the money.? Buy some and try it.

    So there are four, and we have many to go.? Next we’ll open some from the Dao and Douro, and let the Touriga start to flow.? With Newport and Greenwich about to crank up their festivals it will be a little while before we get back to Portugal, but never fear we will get through them all and let you know what we find.

    We very much like the wines so far from Alentejano, and even more so their prices.? Again, these particular wines are imported and distributed by Sarmento’s Imports of Fall River, and should be available locally.? I know Portugalia carries some, if not all of them.? Thanks again Al!

    A votre sante!


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