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Portugal,Wine,Wine Business,Wine Education

Learning Portuguese Varieties ~ Enoforum Delivered Fresh Wines from Alentejo Portugal

As a wine publicist, there’s nothing more refreshing or exciting than beginning to learn about a new client. Research comes before development in any story telling process, and that’s the journey right now. Take that process away from anything else I’ve learned in my 16+ year repertoire, and it means that as much as I know, I now know nothing at all, anymore.

This begins my journey for Portuguese culture and wine varieties anew ~ both red and white. As I’ve noted before on this blog, 2009 is the year of Portuguese wines for me… Learning and then sharing, because this is what this blog’s all about… Sharing tales of a wine publicist.

Having tasted these white wines earlier, the following is what I reported. I need to preface this with the fact when I tasted these whites, Enoforum was not one of my clients. Delfim Costa is the brands’ general manager, for whom I’d met earlier. These white wines were tasted for my own edification and enjoyment, and so I did.

  • 2007 Alentex DOC Alentejo White, from Portugal, this wine is 60 percent Antão and 40 percent Arinto:  This is a beautiful white wine, and you must not let the price fool you into thinking it isn’t a top notch wine. Land and labor prices around the world are so much less than what we’re used to in California. As a result, it’s a lot easier to find really well crafted wines that are very reflective of their terroir – versus being grown as a simple commodity product that will become bulk wine with no personality. This product of Portugal is a reminder of how a $9 bottle of wine can be so gorgeously flavorful. Pale lime in color with tropical fruit aromas, this wine richly covered my palate and screamed enjoy me with your “Pork and Green Beans tonight!” (Garlic, soy, rice wine, turbinado sugar, bamboo shoots, celery, and onions, Chinese mushrooms). Enoforum. 90 Points [Will be in the US in the near future as an imported brand.] ($8.99)
  • 2007 Alentex DOC Alentejo Portugal Rosé, from Portugal, this wine is a blend of 75 percent Castelão and 25 percent Aragonez  ($8.99):  Stainless steel fermented under controlled temperatures, this vibrantly lively rosé has a floral nose that segues into beautiful berry flavors on the palate that include raspberries and mashed cherries. As light and fresh as this wine is, it’s a perfect complement to rich sea food dishes, or one of my favorites… Chicken Breast with Toasted Sesame Seeds. (Green peppers, plum sauce, rice wine vinegar + pineapple juice, sesame seeds, and scallions.) Enoforum. 91 Points [Will be in the US in the near future as an imported brand.]

There I was, tasting different grape varieties for the very first time, and also experiencing that more than great Port comes from Porto Portugal, as in the following wine information now being integrated…

~Wine Grape Varieties~

Arinto:

Wine Library Terroir refers to this cultivar as “One of Portugal’s Freshest.”

Castelão:

Defined in Wine Searcher as “dark skinned grape variety planted all over southern Portugal. It is also know as Periquita in Terres di Sai and Ribatejo; as João de Santarém or Santarem in parts of Ribatejo; as Mortagua in Estremadura, and even Trincadeira Preta elsewhere.”

Just when I thought learning one variety’s name would take me far, along come a miriade of synonyms. I’m thinking Castelão is going to be a good start, for now. I remember I had to think about the grape varieties in a Bordeaux for quite a while, after the first time I realized they existed.

Aragones:

Sitting with my wine library, moving into a reading area, I chose: The Encyclopedic Atlas of Wine: A comprehensive guide to the world’s greatest wines and wineries. I found my way to pages 356 to 357, dedicated to Portugal. In the very first paragraph, “Portugal’s wine industry has virtually undergone a comprehensive transformation over the past three decades. In the 1960s, the country was best-known for its mid-range rosé in a distinctive bottle- – Mateus.”

Get Out! I didn’t know Mateus was a Portuguese wine.  I didn’t even think about imported or domestic back then. I was busy studying Buddhism, bird watching, and passing the bottle of Portuguese rosé.

~ Wines that I’m exploring next for evaluation ~

2006 Alentex – [$8.99 - $9.99]

This one is their value wine for under $10, and is still a premium red wine. It was delicious and very pleasing, a wine of simplicity, and yet over delivered what I expected. A very pleasant surprise.

2006 Alentex Trincadeira | Aragonez DOC Alentejo * Portugal Vinto Tinto [$13.99]

Again… Trincadeira… Another wine that exudes terroir in a bottle, and wine to establish my benchmark considerations for Alentejo’s potential

2006 Além Syrah, Touriga Nacional, Vinho Regional, Alentejo [$18.99]

Syrah… no problemo. Touriga Nacional… The most revered wine variety for port… continuing with Jancis… tannic and concentrated.

2005 Alentex Reserva ~ DOC Alentejo ~ Alicante Bouschet, Aragones, Trincadeira [$22.99]

I’m familiar with Alicante Bouschet. I’ve tasted some from Sonoma County in Russian River Valley. Because the grape vines are close to a road lined with eucalyptus, the soils are affected, and I can always pick up that trait. I’d love to taste this variety without the mint. I look forward to it.

The Trincadeira… there’s a new one… back to the library. Jancis Robinson’s The Oxford Companion to Wine, page 718. “Trincadeira das Pratas, name for the fine red wine grape TINTA AMARELA in the southern Portuguese region of Alentejo where it shows great potential.”

[FOR MY RECORDS: Embassy of PORTUGAL ~ Location: 2012 Massachusetts Avenue, NW ~ Metro: Dupont Circle (Red line); Metrobus N2, N3, N4, or N6]

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