Dao Grao Vasco 2012

 Portugal, $10

I’m working on a long piece about the new high-end Portuguese wines for our upcoming issue, so I’m in an Iberian frame of mind. The dominant image I have in my mind from this week’s bottle comes from a four-hour layover I had at the Lisbon Airport last fall. As I was settling in with myless-than-exciting food court lunch, I saw a gentleman in his mid-50’s, dressed quite nicely, sit down at an adjoining table. To go with his sandwich he had purchased an entire 750 mL bottle of Dao Grao Vasco, and over the course of the next 30 mins polished off the whole thing, whereupon he courteously cleared his tray and headed off for his flight. Ah, Europe.

Generally, wine available in airport food courts is wretched the world over, but that gentleman was on to something in this case. In the past, cheap Dao wines were something to truly fear, but this oddball blend of grapes (Jaen, Alfrocheiro, Tinta Roriz, Tinta Pinheira and Touriga Nacional) manages to channel a back alley Barolo vibe that I sort of love: dry, dark cherrieswith a swack of spice and a medium body. For under $10, it’s damn near impossible to beat—just be discrete if you want to whip it out at your next Canadian food court lunch.

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