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"Wine Column: Welcome to a world of difference in Portugal - Wines of Portugal"
Notícia in Richmond News/AICEPPartilhar de 23-08-2017 12:00:00

In a world where so many countries produce the same type of wines, Portugal stands out in the crowd of clones.
Filipa Anunciação of Wines of Portugal explains how Portuguese wines are so unique.

“Usually the major countries work with the same grape varieties. If you want to be surprised you should try a Portuguese wine,” she says. “We have something to offer that the other regions do not have.”

She backs  this up with the fact that Portugal has more than 250 grape varieties not available anywhere else.

“We are masters of blends,” Anunciação says. “With our field blends, for example, we can have more than 40 different grape varieties in the blend. Instead of having plots of only one grape variety, they have 40 or more grape varieties mixed in the field. It’s a very complex and rich wine profile.”

There are more reasons to discover Portuguese wines than just their uniqueness.

“Everyone is discovering Portuguese wines right now and they are being surprised by our quality, by the difference of our blends and our grape varieties, and the quality price relation that we have to offer,” explains Anunciação.

Here in Canada, sales of Portuguese wines have increased 20 per cent in the past year. Two premium wines, Port and Madeira, are amongst the most famous wines in the world, yet are reasonably priced for the average wine consumer. 

Three wines I’ve come to really enjoy are reds from Jose Maria da Fonseca. Their Periquita ($8.99) is Portugal’s oldest table wine. Produced from Castelao, Trincadeira and Aragonez grapes, it’s a very respectable red for the price. Expect a black cherry and dark plum bouquet with a smoky, savoury flavour on top of the fruit. It’s tasty with barbecued salmon. Remember to chill it for half an hour during the summer.

Moving up the scale in quality is the Periquita Reserva ($15.99). The Castelão, Touriga Nacional and Touriga Franca indigenous grapes create a wine with more depth and richness: hints of blackberries and boysenberries, violets and spiciness with a whiff of cigar smoke and vanilla. 

Full-bodied and smooth, the Reserva is wonderful with Oka cheese and Isle of Man Cheddar.

A third Fonseca wine to uncork this summer is the 2014 José de Sousa ($14.79) from the Alentejano region of central Portugal. This dry red, named after the winery’s owner, has a gorgeous character of cherries and plums along with chocolate and cocoa. 
The American wine magazine Wine Enthusiast gave it a 93-point rating.

“This wine is packed with firm, generous tannins and ripe, juicy black fruits. It has some oak aging that has given the wine a polished feel. With its concentration, structure and final acidity, it will age well.”

The prestigious magazine rated José de Sousa the best Portuguese wine in 2016 and number five out of the Top 100 wines in the world. 

Eric Hanson is a retired Richmond teacher and wine enthusiast.

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