Bottoms Up

Beer and wine in the Bay Area and beyond

Portuguese wines you’ll want to look for

By Jessica Yadegaran
Tuesday, April 17th, 2007 at 10:28 am in Uncategorized.

So I’m working on getting samples of the Jacuzzi wines made by the family my colleague Marton Dunai wrote about on A-1 yesterday. I know they make Primitivo, Sangiovese, Barbera, Nebbiolo, and Valeriano, a Super Tuscan. It’s nice to see a number of Italian varietals under one roof. So far, that, the fact that they’re organic, affordable ($14-$38) and Cline Cellars’ stellar reputation, is working for them. I’ll keep you posted on the wines.

On to Portugal. I attended the ViniPortugal event on Thursday in San Francisco and tried to taste as many of the 400 wines showcased by the 48 producers present. My overall impression of these wines is solid. Most are light to medium bodied in style, yet structured, with some interesting finishes. I’d never heard of many of the varietals, but admit they were easier to pronounce than Greek ones.

Below are some standouts. I’m hesitant to write about them in too much detail because of the 400 wines there, only some 20 to 30 percent are readily available for purchase in the Bay Area. The salesmen and buyers I talked to assured me that this is changing as we speak. For the time being, I suggest hitting Spanish Table in Berkeley or looking for these wine online. Here goes:

Famega Vihno Verde. From the Amarante region, this pear-tinged white is not green as the name suggests. Rather, it stuck out because it has a natural fizz. It’s not a sparkling though. It’s a light white with only 9.5 percent alcohol and less calories than other wines. It also costs less around $7.

Azamor Petite Verdot. From the Alentejo region, this inky dark purple red has a lot of tannin and was satisfying enough to drink alone or with a steak. It’s also valuable, at around $15. An importer told me it’s literally on the docks and just a matter of weeks (close to a month) until we can buy it in San Francisco.

Esquila Wines Nomisma 2002. Also in the Alentejo, this gorgeous, opulent, dark red is a blend of Aragonez, Trincadeira, Alicante Bouschet and Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s Cali-style at 14.5 percent alcohol but so earthy with firm tannins and a lot of herb. Maybe that why Jenny and I loved it so much.

Esquila Wines Dignitas Reserva 2003. Saved the best for last. Wow. This is the same blend as the Nomisma minus the Cab. I think it lets the Mediterranean soil and the Portuguese varietals really stand out. This is what the region is capable of: Deep red color, slightly less alcohol (14 percent) with tobacco, coffee and oak. What a beautiful wine.

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