Impenetrable purple purple ruby, right out to the edge. Big round old-cellar funk on a weedy core carries dense rich ultra-ripe fruit into the nose, jammed up with cinnamon, clove and sage. Decomposed granite and wet match-head drive a grapefruit minerality into a fresh manure so perfectly, you keep asking yourself what part of the Old World did this come from? Every swirl brings a see-saw of beautiful fruit and beautiful funk.
In 2000 I visited Portugal and was blown away by the wines. I was pretty well along in my *wine problem* and had a generous collection of vintage and LBV ports in my cellar–prizes I drug out at the end of dinners and parties to express everything there is to know about Portugal. Port, right? End of conversation. Then I visited.
People: I can’t even BEGIN to describe the wine-situation in Portugal. I spent a week there and never drank a DROP of port! There was still-wine EVERYWHERE. Beautiful reds and whites–of all densities and price-ranges–practically ran in the gutters. All the restaurants had–in addition to bright, fresh local cheap guzzlers sloshing from carafes and pitchers–deep lists of bottles from all over the country. I learned about Dao and Bairrada and Douro and Alentejo with a multitude of provincial and regional sub-regions. Port was the furthest thing from anybody’s minds! From simple red quaffers to deep, brooding reserve bottles and from tanks of vinho verde to rich, buttery whites, Portugal nearly competed with my visits to France in wine-speak and prevalence. I had NO CLUE any of this existed.
And then I had to come back home to America. And I started snooping around. And it turns out I was NOT merely ignorant of Portuguese wines in the past, they literally DO NOT EXIST in the United States. Occasionally an adequate vinho verde or a bad Dao will pop on a shelf. A major warehouse wine-retailer in Los Angeles might have dedicated 5 or 6 faces or a half-dozen square feet to “WINES OF PORTUGAL” while the Port section takes up several acres of careful refrigeration and every chain supermarket and liquor store in America has a dozen fortified offerings. But still-wine from Portugal? N’existe pas!
Now I have a blog! It’s not just me rambling away at parties about drinking in foreign lands or pontificating about alleged dry bottles from a country ubiquitous with sweeties. Now you have to listen to me! And I am always on the hunt for Portuguese wine–even though they HAVE NOT become easier to find or anywhere NEAR more plentiful in 2017. This HAS to change!!! You people NEED to try these wines!!! They’re amazing! THIS ONE, for example. This is a $25 vinho regional from Alentejano! And it’s nearly perfect in every detail.
In the mouth, biting acidity strikes early and often, greening up the mouthfeel and adding piquant depth to ripe blackberry fruit, already wracked with firm structure. Worn leather and fines herbes stage a race across the palate, fruit generously in tow, as they head for a cataclysmic fate with bracing green tannin. This is not a thin, bright villages wine. This is a bold, beautiful, concentrated wine nearly perfect in every detail. Find yourself some Portugal!
2014 HERDADE de SAO MIGUEL ‘Escolha dos Enologos’ Alicante Bouchet/Touriga Franca/Touriga Nacional 40/30/30 Alentejano Portugal 14.0