Tag Archives: Portugal

Periquita 2011

periquita

Portugal, $10
A group of esteemed restaurant judges were in the offices last week and choosing wine for them is always a trick—their palates are pampered and they’re used to a pretty rarified level of imbibing. To make matters worse, the wine room at the office was at a near all time low in terms of variety. And then I found it, tucked away and forgotten at the bottom of one shelf was this bottle—a 2005 Periquita with the foil removed. For those of you who don’t know Periquita, it’s a workhouse value Portuguese red that’s been over-delivering to the under $10 crowd for years. It’s a blend of castelao (a grape few outside of Portugal have ever heard of), trincadeira (a grape that sounds like a deadly bacteria) and aragonez (actually tempranillo but the Portuguese like to call it something else just to complicate matters) and it’s decidedly not modern—it delivers a rustic idea of red fruit—and it’s not meant for aging. It’s own tasting notes say it has a shelf life of 6 years after bottling and the bottle I had was already on year 9.

And it was great. It was a little tired and most of its freshness had long gone, but it retained an earthy elegance and the years had rubbed all its elbows smooth. It was like a little Hobbit who had made an incredible journey and I couldn’t help but be impressed by it. I weekly drink scores of $20+ wine that wouldn’t make this journey with the same grace that this under $10 had done.

 

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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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Niepoort Dialogo Branco Douro 2011

Niepoort Dialogo Branco Douro 2011

Portugal, $20

I’m not so naïve as to assume that the pleasure one derives from wine comes solely from what’s inside the bottle. There’s the joy of discovering a new region, a new grape and the small charge one gets from a well-designed package…AND there’s what’s inside the bottle. This new-to-the-market bottling from Portugal’s famed Niepoort family succeeds on almost every level. It’s from the Douro, which is famous for Port, but only now is it starting to gets props for its table wine (and the white are even more nascent).

It’s a blend of—wait for it—codega do larinho, rabigato, gouveio, dona branca, viosinho and bical. I’m not making those names up—they’re actual Portuguese grape varieties. And the label is super engaging and fun. All that would only go so far if the stuff inside weren’t so compelling and lively in the glass. It’s fresh without being overly acidic or bracing, and has lovely white peach aromas and—just so you know you’re in Portugal—a long, almost salty but pleasing aftertaste. One of the most fun white wines I’ve had all year.

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