PORTUGAL: NOT JUST FOR SWEET WINE AND DIVING FOOTBALLERS
The country of Portugal has a long history of exporting its greatest products to the rest of the world. Many years ago, the country was one of Europe’s ocean hubs, a place that all goods must have passed through to reach exotic foreign markets. In today’s modern world, the ships that once peppered Portugal’s harbours have gone. However, there are still a number of exports from this nation that have come to define it on a world stage. I am, of course, referring to the country’s wonderful wines, as well as footballers that embellish injuries while looking for penalty kicks.
While I could do without the crying to the referee, I cannot do without the wines! One of the reasons that Portuguese wine is so attractive to wine lovers is that this Old World region has been producing fantastic wines at a great price for hundreds of years. Here are some of my favourites in the Alberta market right now.
Gazella Vinho Verde – $13
Vinho Verde, which literally translates to “green wine,” is made in quite a unique style. Light and high in acid, these wines experience a process in the bottle, known as malolactic fermentation, that gives them a slightly bubbly texture much like a very light sparkling wine. The Gazela Vinho Verde is a favourite of many wine lovers, as it is known to be a consistent and well-valued wine. This wine is chuggable and a perfect hot-day picnic wine (just in case we ever see another hot day in this province).
Niepoort Dialogo Branco Blend – $24
This white wine is a blend of Portuguese grapes of which you’ve likely never heard. Drinking wines made of Codega de Larinho, Rabigato and Gouveio and many others grapes may be outside of your comfort zone, but those who love a crisp, refreshing white like Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio will absolutely love this wine.
Cristiano Van Zellers “Rufo” Red Blend – $19
Rufo sounds dangerously close to “roofies.” However, it is actually the Portuguese word for “drum,” so, in this case, it’s OK to Rufo your date or yourself. This big, dry red wine is a great food wine and shows huge blackberry and cherry notes. Rufo punches way above its weight class in terms of price, which is why I love it so much. It is sure to please the discerning palate but still comes in under $20.
1994 Caves Messias Colheita Port – $48
Colheita ports are ports with grapes from a single vintage that have been aged in the barrel for many years before being bottled. This gives them a body style that is very close to the more commonly enjoyed “tawny” ports. All you need to really know about this wine is that it is delicious. Rich dried fig and deep kirsched cherries are predominant in this sweet, fortified wine.
I know I continue to harp about exploring new horizons when choosing wine, or anything you drink for that matter, but it is because I truly believe in these lesser-known regions. Cheers!
By Jeff Jamieson
Photo: Courtesy BelGusto.com