Archive for the 'Portuguese Wine' Category

Best Damn Tasting Ever! presented by the Seacove Group and New World Wines

OK, so I’ve been really bad with posting lately… and rightfully so. I’ve got a life and a full-time, outside wine job. I’ve been feeling badly about the lack of posts, so I’ve resolved to writing at least a few of ’em a week for the next while. Not only does that accomplish the more-posts-in-a-month goal, but it also makes me document the wine I drink, which was the original idea behind this site.

Well, now that that’s out there, I’ll get down to the task at hand. A few weeks ago, I received an invite from my friend Paul Watkin, who works with the Seacove Group, a wine agency in town for a tempting-sounding trade tasting being held at the Metropolitan Hotel.

The tasting was put on by the Seacove Group and the New World Wines agencies – and featured a diverse selection of wines from pretty much everywhere. There were wines from Italy, France, Spain, New Zealand, Portugal and the USA. Graham and I made our way around the room and I can honestly say there wasn’t a single wine we didn’t enjoy. Both agencies have some stunners, so I’m just going to give you our top 5’s from each.

Graham’s picks from Seacove:

  • Champagne de Venoge Brut Milliesime 1995 – Stunning length with beautiful citrus and lees.
  • Livon Braide Alte 2006 – Loved this wine.  Superbly crisp with nice pear and lime and solid mineral finish.  I imagined this with mussels or clams.  Mmmmm….
  • Egelhoff Cabernet Sauvignon 2003 – A gorgeous Napa Cab with great black fruit.  This wine was like someone ground a pepper mill over the glass.  Excellent stuff.
  • Chateau des Graviers AOC Margaux “Quintessence” 2001 – Delicious.  Great nose of tea, marker and ground coffee.  Finishes up with some nice graphite and green leaf.
  • Moncellior Pinot Noir 2008 – I really liked this one.  Nice full raspberry nose with great acidity and some nice green stalk on the finish.  This is a great value in the Otago Pinots for $35.

My picks from Seacove:

  • 1995 Champagne de Venoge Brut Millesièmme -Wow. Just wow. So graceful and tasty.
  • 2006 Signorello Winery Padrone – OK, it’s expensive, but it’s also really bloody tasty. Massive black fruit and pepper are followed by equally massive tannins. This one needs time.
  • 2005 Van Zeller Douro CV “Curriculum Vitae” – Elegant dark plum and berry fruit lead to a loooong finish. Pretty wonderful stuff.
  • 2003 Egelhoff Wines Cabernet Sauvignon – Great dark fruit and black pepper flavours made me want to go back for more.
  • 2006 Quinta do Crasto Touriga Nacional – Dark fruit and chocolate with a finish that lasted minutes. I love this wine.

Graham’s picks from New World Wines:

  • Barnett Vineyards Merlot Spring Mountain 2006 – Amazing spice on this wine.  Anise and Cinnamon with gorgeous red fruit.  Loved it.
  • Darioush Winery Signature Series Shiraz 2005 – Deep intense black fruit with nice black pepper and firm tannins.
  • DeLille Cellars D2 2006 – This was soft and sexy goodness.  Gorgeous red fruit and silky finish.
  • Betz Family Winery Clos de Betz 2006 – Beautiful dark chocolate, black fruit and some nice mint on the finish. – Loved it.
  • Flowers Vineyard & Winery  Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2006 – Elegant, with beautiful cranberry and currant.  Great length with a bit a brown sugar on the finish.

My picks from New World Wines:

  • 2005 Darioush Winery Signature Series Shiraz – So good! Immense dark fruit, dark chocolate and black tea flavours lead out to a long-long finish.
  • 2006 Barnett Vineyards Merlot Spring Mountain – Dark chocolate and plum fruit with a toasty edge. So good.
  • 2006 Betz Family Clos de Betz – It may be starting to sound like a record on repeat, but dark chocolate and blackberry flavours made me want more.
  • 2006 DeLille Cellars D2 – Mouth-filling dark fruit. Yum.
  • 2004 Lail Vineyards Blue Print – This had a hint of bell pepper to its dark fruit and spice. Bloody good.

Quinta Vale D. Maria Reserve Porto Lote 06

04222009Wow. Mmm… Port. It’s one of those things you either love right away, or come to love after learning about it and tasting multiple bottles. Fortunately, I loved Port the second I tasted it years ago – I have a sweet tooth and a love for big reds. That helps. I tasted this one at the Vancouver Wine Fest a while back and a recent craving led to it recently being popped open.

The QVDM Reserve Port was bottled unfined and unfiltered, as winemaker/owner Cristiano van Zellar’s personal reserve. It’s produced from single vineyard Douro grapes – a blend of Tinta Amarela, Rufete, Tinta Barroca, Tinta Roriz, Touriga Francesa, Touriga Nacional and Sousão – and is crushed by foot (I hope they washed) before being aged for 2 years in old wood vats. It’s bottled only once every year, on the date shown on the label. In this case, that would be 2006.

This is a wine that would pair very well with a lot more than dark cocolate (check – I loved it): try blue and hard, flavorful cheeses, as well as dark chocolate-based desserts. I’m getting hungry just writing this.

Because it’s unfiltered and unfined, be careful when pouring this wine. There’s a lot of sediment in the bottle. You want the wine, not the sludgey stuff.

So, what did I think? Well, it’s a bloody tasty Port for the money. It’s got a lot of the character of a Vintage Port, without the price tag. The nose shows ripe blackberry, black tea and dark chocolate. A sip gives up a bunch of ripe and juicy blackberry along with the dark chocolate and a finish that has that black tea edge.

Is it good? Hell yeah. It’s very good. If you love the Port and can find it, you won’t be disappointed.

~$30 CDN if you can find it.

4 1/2 stars


2004 Caves Aliança Bairrada Quinta das Baceladas Single Estate

012120091I happened on this wine at the Alberni LDB store in downtown Vancouver the other day. The wine is mainly a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon along with some of the Baga varietal that is native to the Bairrada region. I’m always up for trying something from Portugal, so I grabbed one.

It may be Old World in location, but there’s definitely some of that New World fruit and oak going on. I’ve had it open for a few hours.. so let’s go. The nose is a sexy mix of ripe blackberry, plum, dark chocolate and mineral. The flavours are all about the ripe berry and what struck me as sweet fig with a long dark chocolate  coated finish. Sounds tasty, huh? Yep, it is.

Apart from some bitterness in the middle, it’s just a hint away from being absolutely outstanding. It is pretty damned fine. For the moolah, I’d buy it again. Yes, I would.

$28.50 at LDB stores here in BC.

4 stars

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Wine – Gazela Vinho Verde NV

07302007.jpgOK, so I was in the Alberni LDB store with my friend Ryan when he told me I had to pick up a bottle of this… for $10 he said he’d give me the money if I didn’t like it.

Well, Ryan can keep his money. I can’t believe I like a $10 bottle of wine, but this is a great summer sipper. Despite its regularly-shaped white wine style bottle, it’s a lot like a Prosecco – effervescent, light and lightly citrus-fruity. I’m sitting here on a patio sipping it right now and I’m thinking that when it’s warm, this is almost the perfect aperitif (or liquid appetizer as I like to call it).

It’s not going to blow you away, but it more than delivers for the price. It would even pair pretty darned well with light fish or Thai dishes.

Seriously, I’m telling you – you can’t go wrong. Grab a bottle, go outside and sip it while relaxing. You’ll be glad you did.

$9.99 at BC LDB stores.

3 1/2 stars

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Wine – 2004 Flor de Crasto – Douro Vinho Tinto Tinta Roriz

02082007.jpgOver the years I’ve come to love the Quinta do Crasto Douro, as well as their superb ports, so when I saw this I had to give it a try.

Given the fact the price of their Douro has gotten a little steep, this is a nice value option for something a little different.

It is has dry, floral nose with some strawberry and bit of the nice earthiness of a standard douro. This was great afternoon sipper while transcribing the Zap notes and preparing dinner.

If you‘re in the mood for a light and approachable wine this is a really nice option in terms of value and variety.

$13.99 at BC Liquor Stores

4 stars

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Wine – 2004 Quinta do Crasto Douro Reserva Old Vines

01142007.jpgI’ve always really liked Portuguese reds… why I don’t drink more of them is just a game of numbers. It’s that “so many wines, so little time” thing. Wines like this make it clear I should really pay closer attention.

I’ve had it open a few hours and wow. It’s deep, dark and, while it’s very Old World, shows great deep and dark fruit with a super-sexy syrupy edge and a long, spicy finish.

It’s balanced and very drinkable now, yet a bit hot due to it’s young age (and 14.5% booze) – put this away for a couple of years and see it really hit its stride.

The Wine Spectator gave it a very health 93-point rating, describing it as, “A ripe, full-bodied red packed with dark fruity flavors as well as plenty of paprika. Powerful, with a dense core of spicy elements that follow through to the long, cream-filled finish.” Yep. I agree.

$33.95 at LDB stores here in BC.

4 1/2 stars

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Wine – 2003 Quinta do Vallado Douro Red

08082006a.jpgThis was among the wines I poured at the Vancouver International Wine Festival this year, so I got to taste it back then. Upon sipping it again, I realized I had forgotten how tasty it was. The folks at Quinta do Vallado (warning: annoyingly slow flash website) make some great wines. Don’t miss tasting any of them if you get a chance.

I know I say this now and then, but this wine is sexy. It’s all full-bodied, dark plummy fruit with a mouth-watering finish. It’s a bit “hot” initially from the 14% booze, but that wears off as the wine has a chance to breathe. After that it cuddles up to your taste buds.

What a great wine for the money.

~$19 here in BC.

4 stars


Wine – 2005 Quinta do Ameal Loureiro

2005 Quinta do Ameal LoureiroI like to try wines that I haven’t had or just plain haven’t heard of… and that would be true of this one. Before Friday, I had never heard of the Loureiro grape variety. I now know that it’s one of the varieties used to make the tasty Portugese Vinho Verdes I have had.

I made a trek to BC’s flagship Liquor Store on Friday and had a browse… SO MANY wines, so little time (and money). I wandered into the Portugese section because I’ve had so many wines from there that I’ve really liked over the years – almost 100% of them red though. This white caught my eye, so I decided to give it a go.

The colour is very light… like a young riesling. It’s light to medium-bodied (11.5% booze). The nose is lightly floral and citrus-y. The flavour is lightly fruity (I get peach) followed by crisp citrus acidity with a mineral edge. In wine terms it’s much like a Viognier has been crossed with Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon with a dash of Riesling. It all adds up to a mouthful of tastiness. This would be fantastic with seafood.

~$18 here in BC.

4 stars

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