By Alexandre Guedes
First, let’s talk about Vinho Verde. In Portugal, it’s top of mind as the sun begins to show some strength. Fresh, light and super aromatic, these are wines to drink outdoors, day or night. In the lush, verdant north of the country, we find the Vinho Verde region with a climate much like Portland, Oregon. Main grape varietals are Alvarinho and Loureiro. They’re bottled quite early (thus verde, or green). As a result, fermentation continues in the bottle naturally, developing a gentle effervescence which makes them refreshing & easy to drink. These days, we are loving Quinta do Ameal Loureiro 2016, which is delicate and elegant, with emphasis on floral and fruity aromas. It has structure and minerality, with tons of freshness and a persistent finish. Perfect with fish, seafood, sushi.
Next, Rosé. Of course. It’s a style of wine that is commanding more and more attention in the Portuguese wine market. As a result, there are some truly excellent examples these days. One to seek out is Quinta Monte D’Oiro Lybra Rosé 2016, which has beautiful shades of pink, with lavas of gray. In the nose, it shows discreet, but well-tuned aromas, reminiscent of forest fruits. In the mouth, it is fresh, elegant, with very present acidity. A beautiful rosé made with Syrah, produced right here next to Lisbon, in Alenquer.
Heading back up to the north of the country, to Douro, where Port wine lives and where still wines made from many of the same grapes are considered some of Portugal’s finest. The 2011 harvest in the Douro DOC was widely considered by producers, critics and consumers alike as the best vintage of the last 50 years. (TIP: if you see wines from this vintage outside of Portugal, grab them). The wines are of classic Portuguese character, concentrated, with intense aromas, good acidity and structure, but with very evident elegance. Dona Graça Touriga Nacional Reserva Tinto 2011 has deep aromas that reveal fruity and floral notes and very well integrated oak. Dense and powerful in the mouth, very tasty with a long finish. A perfect red wine to eat with lamb – we’re in Portugal after all!
*if you’re in Lisbon, head to Garrafeira Nacional and ask for Alex. He’ll help you find these wines and more. Otherwise, check out wine-searcher for where to buy.
Alex is a winemaker who has worked around the world, and most recently, close to home at Herdade Grande in Alentejo. Today, he lives in Lisbon, is studying for WSET certification, and preaching the gospel of Portuguese wines.