Portuguese wine is getting noticed as one of the best values on offer. As their presence in international markets continues to grow, there has been a uptick in experimentation, especially with blending indigenous varieties with cabernet sauvignon. The majority of the exported dry reds are coming from the regions of Tejo, Alentejo, and the Douro valley. There is a long list of local varieties used for dry red wine production throughout these regions. Some of the most commonly used include touriga nacional, baga, and tinta roriz which is known as aragones, and as tempranillo in Spain.
The flavor profile of these high scoring wines is consistently rich, with impressive depth of character showing plenty of red and black fruits, earthy structure, spice, and complexity. Mostly priced under $25, the value these wines offer makes them that much better. When traditional grapes are blended with international varieties as in 2017 finalist Dona Maria Amantis Reserva 2012 from Alentejo, which combines touriga nacional with cabernet sauvignon among other grapes, the resulting wines bridge the gap between new and old world styles. At 93 Points this wine shows dried plums, cranberries and currants are tangy on the nose. Pure and focused fruit flavors in the mouth sing with vibrancy. Dried herbs, piney forest floor and gentle spice round out the sip, creating an elegant layering of components. Delicious.
This forward thinking approach from Portugal is creating a category of wines that appeals to a wide range of drinkers, fitting the palates of those who indulge in juicy Napa cabs just as much as those who prefer an earth driven Bordeaux blend. With prices and value that are hard to match, these wines show tremendous promise for the coming years.