Tasting Notes: Spring in Portugal

Posted on Mar, 17. 2011 by

Categories: Wine

Yet again, Portuguese wine far outpaces its tariff! The bottles we tried last night further reinforce Portugal’s standing as the best “new” old region in the world (in my humble opinion) in terms of variety and value. The spectrum spans from racy modern wines to rich, Spanish-styled bombs to rustic, earthy, traditional gems – all the while remaining remarkably steadfast in terms of overall quality. The stuff last night showcased this spectrum…and the most expensive wine was all of ~$20! My favorites:

2009 Muralhas Vinho Verde
Vinho Verde has come to embody summertime for us, but I can’t reiterate this enough: there are two different classes of branco (white) Vinho Verde: one is the light, racy, spritzy stuff that you fill the cooler with and drink out of plastic cups on the hottest day of the year, while the other is a more evolved style of whine closer to traditional Alvarinho. The Muralhas is the latter (see the vintage? It’s a year old.) This does not have the spritz or the bracing acid of “Vinho Verde Nouveau”, but it still has the distinctive white-flowers-and-citrus character…just with more roundness to it, more depth, but never taking itself too seriously. It’s Vinho Verdo with soul, and I’m struggling to think of a better wine at this price for these mild, lovely spring days. The 2010 “nouveau” VV’s will be arriving within the next month or so, but the ’09 Muralhas is a different monster, and everyone should have both in their cooler.
Member Price: [private_member] Grand Cru: $10.64 • Premier Cru: $11.12 [/private_member]
Retail Price: $14.50
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2005 Casa de Santar Dao
The Santar is a marriage of brute strength and an almost feminine delicateness…grizzled red-fruit edges with whispers of vanilla and pipe tobacco in the core. It’s this “Duality in the Dao” that is pervasive throughout the wine, and it even shows in its general style. Casa de Santar has been making wines in the Dao since 1616, and that classicity and tradition are evident throughout the wine (earthy, woody, brambly…pliable tannins and a hint of pencil shavings), but at the same time, the winemaker’s handiwork is decidedly modern (ripe red/black fruits, soft French and American oak, a touch of extraction on the long finish). I love the clear delineation of elements here, which give the wine far more depth than it should have at this price…and while you don’t see very many Portuguese wines at this price level, it’s a freakishly great steal for your cellar (it’s already got 5 years on it, and could go for 5 or 7 more). Forget the inflated Spanish cellar selections – this is where you need to be looking. Very highly recommended.
Member Price: [private_member] Grand Cru: $19.80 • Premier Cru: $20.70 [/private_member]
Retail Price: $27.00
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Thanks for joining us last night, those of you who could, and to those who could not, here’s your chance to jump on some of the best deals going outside of closeoutland (price/order sheet is attached).

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