Wines of Portugal (The Best Portuguese Reds & Whites)
Portuguese Wines: Centuries of Perfection
I discovered Portuguese wine while traveling in Portugal. During my travels, I systematically learned about each wine and port produced in the favored region of the Douro Valley.
During one particular evening with a wine connoisseur, I experienced several different regional reds and whites while discussing the attributes of their balance and bouquet.
Comparing Portuguese grapes to those of Napa Valley or France, one can notice a relative dryer palette. When enjoying one of these wines, the palette rejoices in the tenderness the grape offers with its profound, vibrant balance of flavors. Portugal's wines are the benchmark for what a port can ultimately achieve.
In this guide, we'll look at various selections from these wineries:
- Ramos Pinto
- Quinta Do Vale Maeo
- W&J Graham's
- Port Niepoort
Ramos Pinto Winery
Porto Dry White: The Port-Lover's Favorite
If you prefer a port with a good body that isn't too heavy, Ramos Pinto's dry white is an excellent choice. Pale straw in color, it marries well with canapés and is best served at 46 to 48 degrees.
The intense nose has been described as nutty or reminiscent of a delicate fruit with images of honey and dried fig.
Porto 10 Anos
As a 10-year-old wood-aged port, it is light and stylish with rich tawny. Amber-orange in color, it mingles effortlessly with a cheese platter.
A highly pleasurable nose with spicy scents of nutmeg and cinnamon dances rhythmically against the fragrant fig and a stunning walnut. The alcohol warms the palate and is instantaneously sweep over by crème caramel, nutty flavors with a hint of citrus.
A unique white port adds a splash of younger and happier flavors delighting the palate. Citrine and golden colors can be enjoyed by itself or as a long drink mixed with ice, tonic and a slice of lime.
The nose senses freshness with the sensuality of ripe, dry fruits offering a mineral taste, finesse, and elegance. The palate will notice a slight acidity with a pleasurable sweetness coming from behind.
About the Winery
Adriano and Antonio Ramos Pinto founded the winery in Douro, Portugal, in 1880. Since 1990, Champagne Louis Roederer became the major shareholder. The grape varieties used include Roriz, Tinto Barocca, Touriga Nacional, Touriga Francesca, and Tinto Cao.
Winery: Quinta Do Vale Meao
Vintage Port 2007
A vintage port with a good depth of red color produces character and strength. Ripe round tannins give the port backbone with its pleasant acidity, taunts you to finish it in one sitting.
The nose and palate are pleased with Quinta’s floral and exotic orange peel character and boysenberry, sharing fresh and spicy cinnamon and mocha, with distinct tobacco leaf aromas.
About the Winery
In 1877, Dona Antónia Adelaide built a Quinta and vineyards. Today, the Quinta is still with the family and owned by Francisco Olazabal. The grapes used are Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz, Touriga Francesa, Tinta Amarela, Tinta Barroca, and Tinta Cão.
Vintage Port 2003
The vintage port is worth the wait, ideally served after four hours in the decanter. Dark red-violet with firm tannins offer a very long finish that stands alone or with creamy cheeses.
A powerful nose with attractive and sweet aromas of blackberries, currants, and flowers entice a full-bodied palate, with pleasant, slightly fruity and a medium finish.
Twenty-Year Tawny Porto
The color matures as a deep ruby blending with amber and yielding a rare and delicious Tawny Porto. Serve slightly chilled with an appetizer like foie-gras or with dessert or fruit like a peach.
A rich, graceful combination of flavors include honey, nuts, dried apricots, spices, and vanilla. An incessantly complex wine unfurls smoothly and develops in the mouth, producing the perfect end to a meal.
About the Winery
Sandeman established by a Scotsman, George Sandeman, in 1790. For more than 200 years, Sandeman has remained in the family. Some of the grapes used are Tinta Barroca, Tinta Cão, Tinta Roriz, Touriga Francesa, and Touriga Nacional.
Winery: W&J Graham's
Late Bottled Vintage Port
The wine holds an intense and deep ruby color that stands alone or goes well with chocolate desserts, hard cheeses, or soft goat’s cheese.
The nose senses complexity, blending vibrant, youthful aromas, berries, and hints of peppery spice. A full-bodied palate with concentrated flavors of black chocolate and fruit create balance and well-structured tannins, lingering to the finish.
Tawny Port (Aged 20 Years)
The pale amber color is a unique, delicious tawny port. A pleasing partner with dried fruit, nuts or fruitcake, but is also delicious as an addition to vanilla ice cream or crème brûlée.
A pleasing complexity on the nose adds touches of mandarin oranges, walnuts, and roasted almonds. The splendid palate opens with soft, burnt toffee, honeyed fruit, and a velvety touch.
Six Grapes Reserve Port Rozes: Vintage 1994
Fruity and robust with dark red color, this wine served at the end of a meal with spicy, nutty or chocolate desserts, pleasant with strong cheeses.
A seductive nose creates a heavy perfume of ripe cherries and plums. The palate becomes full with complexities and good structure, a long lingering finish.
About the Winery
W & J Graham founded by two Scotch families: the Grahams and the Symingtoms. The winery has continued as an independent family business. Some of the grapes W & J Graham grow are Touriga Nacional, Tinto Cão, Touriga Francam, Tinta Roriz, Tinta Amarela, and Tinta Roriz.
Winery: Port Niepoort
Red and amber in color, the tawny port is wonderful on its own at the end of a meal or on a cold winter day in front of an open fireplace.
The nose holds a very intensive bouquet of nut flavors and drying fruits. The palate is beautifully balanced with nuts and dried plums, pleasingly, with delicacy.
About the Winery
In the course of five generations, the winery passed succeeding from one Niepoort to the next Niepoort. Most of the times, older and younger generations worked alongside each other. Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinto Cão, Tinta Francisca, Tinta Amarela, Sousão, Tinta Roriz are some of the grapes grown.
My most significant fascination with the history of Portuguese wine is the Scots who founded several of the wineries.
Now, when I sip the wine, Portugal's benchmark for what a port achieves, I'll know I am drinking some of my heritage.
What kind of wine do you like to drink?
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© 2012 Kenna McHugh