Although Italian and French wines play the main role in International markets, Portuguese wines are not be outdone in terms of quality, variety and taste.
By Riccardo Costa
Portugal has exceptional wines. As matter of fact, although the Italian and French wines play the main role in International markets, in the last year even Chilean and Californian brands are considered strong competitors. Portuguese wines are not be outdone in terms of quality, variety and taste. At the tasting of Wines of Portugal, I discovered types of wine I wasn’t acquainted with before, not the usual (albeit good) Sangiovese or Cabernet or Merlot, but varieties such as Alicante, Alvarinho, Aragonez, to name just a few of the 250 kinds of grapes. Both the whites and the reds have their distinct identity. They are not acidic or too thick on the palate and can marry well with different fish and meat dishes. If Portuguese cuisine were probably better known abroad, their wines would be too. My favorites are those from the wineries Terra D’Alter and Quinta Da Pedra. First, I must say that people who served them were not just salesmen, but truly passionate about their craft and proud of their products. We can appreciate the love they impart about these wines as if they were a part of their own family.
Terra D’Alter Branco Reserva 2010 is my favorite: light, pleasant to the palate, fresh and elegant with notes of vanilla and coconut. Even the genial Thelas red 2009 is a new creation that combines the Syrah and Viognier grown on land with a mild climate in the Alentejo region. The other wine that has attracted my attention is the Quinta Da Pedra, a noble wine, aged in a 17 th century old building elegantly remodeled using technology to create a perfect environment for the aging of the wine. The granite soil of the earth and the Portuguese sun are the salient characteristics that make this elegant wine perfect as an aperitif or table wine thanks to its freshness. The grapes in the Alvarinho region are small and this makes them taste more floral and fruity, and you sense it immediately at the first sip. Some of these wines do not have a U.S. distribution and it is a shame. I hope that a discriminating distributor will try to put them on the market because I’m sure he’ll have guaranteed success.