Special Report: Portugal 2022

Presenting Portugal’s Modern and Diverse Wines of Character

By Michael Godel

This feature was commissioned by Wines of Portugal.

This is not an article about port. It is an exposé on the modern wine scene of Portugal, brimming from the sea to its many rivers with table wines expressive of a million complexities, a thousand emotions and hundreds of varieties. Scour the globe and try to unearth a country where fine wines are made with as much regional and varietal diversity as Portugal. Go on, I dare you. Portugal is the darling of such idiom and fantasy in a mindful, informative, and inciting way. Where else does the current scope of modernity inspire producers to be so bold yet cool, act so passionate and dare to be different? The past holds weight for traditions and yet the term old world applies only in acumen and experience because in Portugal, today is where it’s at.

Wines from Portugal have come into new unique light and great diversity with thanks to their native abundance of more than 250 grape varieties — though where would they be without their multifarious terroir, each accounting for their own specificity and corresponding micro-climatic influences? From farm to table, they offer versatility at the midday and evening meal — not to mention the bar, special occasion, event reception and after work wind down — all because of a wide variety of styles. There is always something to please every type of wine consumer. Even below $10 there are gems to unearth; in premium categories a remarkable set of fine wines to collect; and terrific value at all points in between.

The country is blessed with a long and rich history, having produced wines dating back to 2000 B.C. There is a new generation of winemakers — and while that may be true everywhere, it rings particularly clear in Portugal where tradition evolves seamlessly and threads seamlessly into innovation. The contemporary Portuguese wine machine embraces new techniques like master teachers of conscious movement. The mindfulness manifests across a wide spectrum of mostly red wines, but is increasingly noticed with whites, rosés, sparkling and an avant-garde reinvention of fortified wines.

Read on to discover the many talents of Portugal’s winemakers in the regions of Vinho Verde, Trás-os-Montes, Douro, Távora and Varosa, Dão, Bairrada, Beira Interior, Lisboa, Tejo, Península de Setúbal, Alentejo, Algarve, Madeira and Açores.

Here we will concentrate on six of those regions, further supported by a buyers’ guide to finding wines here in Canada.

The Alentejo advantage

The Alentejo region covers about a third of Portugal, and winemakers in the remaining two-thirds can often be heard to complain about the popularity of Alentejo wines. The reds, easy drinkers, rich and fruity, are the darlings of Lisbon cafés and restaurants, also to be found on wine lists across the country. There are quaffing wines, but also fine wines, especially in the red department. Whites are more difficult in this hot climate, but some very good ones are made, given the right place, and/or appropriate skill in vineyards and cellar.

Alentejo © Wines of Portugal

It’s a short drive up from the cool of the Algarve, over the hills and into the hot southern part of the Alentejo (or seriously cold, should it be winter). Most of the Alentejo consists of undulating plains and gentle hills, with serious mountains only in the northeast, where, near the town of Portalegre, the São Mamede mountain range rises up by the border with Spain, and the air becomes cooler and the countryside greener. Soils vary greatly: schist, pink marble, granite, limestone, often laid upon a sub-layer of water-retaining clay.

DOP Alentejo has eight sub-regions that together cover about a fifth of the Vinho Regional Alentejano region, but these are rarely seen on a label. It makes sense to take advantage of the name Alentejo (or Vinho Regional Alentejano). Seven of the sub-regions are clustered fairly centrally. Portalegre lies well to the Northeast on the granite foothills of the São Mamede Mountains, where higher rainfall and cooler temperatures especially at night, along with many old vines, gives complexity and freshness.

Borba, Évora, Redondo and Reguengos are more typical of the Alentejo, and can make smooth, harmonious, easy-drinking reds. Conditions are more challenging in Granja-Amareleja, Moura and Vidigueira, with poor, limestone-based soils and a significantly hotter climate. Nonetheless, a new generation of producers, particularly around Vidigueira, has shown the potential of these southern parts of the Alentejo. The white antão vaz is the star grape of the region, with good acidity and tropical fruit flavours. It also responds well to barrel-fermentation. The likes of arinto and roupeiro also offer precious acidity; white diagalves, manteúdo, perrum and rabo de ovelha make up the blends. The Portuguese aragonez (tempranillo) is the most widely planted red grape. The red-fleshed French grape alicante bouschet is often the inky, treacly backbone of red blends. Then there are alfrocheiro, castelão and trincadeira, all playing valuable roles, with moreto, tinta caiada and tinta grossa padding out some blends. However, many of the new generation of Alentejo reds incorporate imported grapes such as syrah and cabernet sauvignon, made as Vinho Regional.

Bairradas got sparkle

The Bairrada region follows along the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by the regions of Vinho Verde to the North, Dão to the east and Lisboa to the south. The nomenclature draws from the Portuguese word barro, meaning clay, which is the single most distinct soil feature of the region. The baga grape thrives here in the cool damp climate. Sparkling wines benefit from this conjoining between climate and geology, though some impressive red wines are made from the indigenous baga. Given time to ripen, the grape gifts a wide range of fruity rich, floral and complex wines.

Bairrada © Wines of Portugal – Luis Pato

Winemaking can be traced through Bairrada to the 10th century, following the Portuguese conquest at the hands of the Moors. The large demand for port wine in the 17th and 18th centuries forced winemakers to look beyond regions like the Douro, and Bairrada became a go-to for deeply rendered red grapes. The region received its official classification as a DOC (Denominação de Origem Controlada) in 1979. Sparkling Bairrada wines make use of more than baga and draw upon a wide variety of grapes grown in the clay. These include maria gomes, fernão pires grapes, bical and arinto grapes. Reds are predominantly made from baga though several international grapes have been introduced.

Dão defines diversification

The Dão region is steeped in tradition and history, being one of the oldest in the country, and yet it only received recognition as a DOC in 1990. It is located in the higher regions of Portugal, along the Serra da Estrela, Serra do Caramulo and Serra da Nave Mountain ranges. The vineyards typically occupy small plots of land, which can range in elevation from 200 metres above sea level to more than 1,000. Its temperate climate is well sheltered from potentially negative influences of the Atlantic. Ample rain fall comes mainly in the winter, keeping the soils hydrated during increasingly hotter and more arid summers. Cooler nights and warmer days create one of Portugal’s great temperature fluctuation effects, allowing for slower ripening and retained acidity. This results in rich wines of verve and vitality.

Dão © Wines of Portugal – Gladstone Campos

Between the northwest corner of the Dão and the southern part of the Vinho Verde lies a small area called Lafões. This region, also known as the Dão-Lafões, produces wines with even higher acidity, making them quite similar to the wines of Vinho Verde. The Dão’s most employed red grape varieties are touriga nacional, alfrocheiro, aragonez and jaen, while baga, bastardo and tinta pinheira are often part of the mix. In terms of white grapes there are bical, cercial, malvasia fina, rabo de ovelha and verdelho.

Douros deeper understanding

Long famous as the source of port, the Douro is now renowned for its fine, rich, unfortified wines, both red and white. This is one of the wildest, most mountainous and rugged wine regions of Portugal, cut through in deep twists and turns by the Douro River. Defying gravity on the steep slopes along the banks of the river and its tributaries, the vines are planted in poor, schistous soils. The Douro is divided into three sub-regions: from west to east, the Baixo Corgo, Cima Corgo and Douro Superior. The fertile, cooler and rainier Baixo Corgo, closest to the Serra do Marão, is the sub-region with the most vineyards.

Douro © Wines of Portugal – João Portugal Ramos

The Douro has a huge selection of local grape varieties, and many vineyards of gnarled old vines that yield small quantities of rich and complex wine, whether port or unfortified. Dozens of grape varieties may be mixed together in these old vineyards. In modern vineyards, vines are planted separately, and five grapes have been declared the top choice for port: tinta roriz, touriga franca, touriga nacional, tinta barroca and tinto cão.

Plantations of the red-juiced, high-acid sousão — known as vinhão elsewhere — have increased recently. Another black grape much planted in older vineyards is tinta amarela (as known as trincadeira). Among whites, notable grapes are gouveio, malvasia fina, moscatel, rabigato and viosinho. Some of these, from old mixed-variety vineyards at high altitudes, are being used for a new generation of dry white wines. The fortified Moscatel do Douro is made with the white galego, with fermentation interrupted by the addition of wine brandy. At 17 per cent ABV, it resembles certain ports but with more apricot and marmalade notes.

Lisboas fantasy and rebirth

Located west and north of Portugal’s largest city, the Lisboa wine region was until recently known as Estremadura. A lot of wine is made here, much of it in co-operatives, in a wide variety of styles and qualities. The vinho regional (VR) Lisboa is predominant here and the region has nine DOCs. Lisboa is a long, thin region running north along the Atlantic. Wind is inevitably a strong factor — no wonder these undulating hills bristle with windmills, and no wonder coastal vines are wind-stressed and hard pressed to ripen their grapes. Just a little way inland, however, a backbone of hill and mountain ranges offers some protection to many eastern parts of the Lisboa region.

Lisboa © Wines of Portugal – CVRLX

A number of the top wine estates of Lisboa are in or around the DOC of Alenquer, tucked in to the east of the Serra de Montejunto, and therefore a little warmer, a little less windy and wet. Grapes can ripen well, and red wines especially can be top class. DOC Arruda, likewise, is protected behind hills, just to the south of Alenquer. These two DOCs, along with DOC Torres Vedras (to the cooler, windier east of Alenquer), relaxed their grape restrictions in 2002 to allow some new national and international grapes including cabernet sauvignon, touriga franca, syrah, sauvignon blanc and chardonnay.

Just south again, between Arruda and the city of Lisbon, is the small but high-quality white wine region of Bucelas, bordered on the west by sheltering hills and on the east by the wide, nearly land-locked estuary of the Tejo river. DOC Bucelas is a fresh, crisp, dry, mineral white made with a minimum of 75 percent arinto and sometimes with rabo de ovelha and sercial. Sparkling Bucelas is also made. The DOC of Lourinhã, between the Óbidos wine region and the ocean, is cooler and windier still, and this DOC, whose grapes ripen with difficulty, is therefore restricted to brandies.

The largest DOC region within the VR Lisboa area, up in the north, is DOC Encostas de Aire on the western slopes and hills of the Candeiros and Aire Mountains. This is scenic, limestone country, clothed with orchards and olive groves as well as vines. It is possible to make good, rich reds and modern whites, but some traditionally made wines here are low in alcohol, high in acidity. Very little wine is made nowadays in the DOC Colares and Carcavelos, two once-famous wine regions by the coast, west of Lisbon. This is prime beach and residential country, where there are many more lucrative uses of land than growing grapes. Carcavelos, just west of the capital, makes tiny quantities of fortified wine that is nearly always sweet, from red or white local grapes. Colares, neighbouring the great surfing beach of Guincho, makes high-acid, tannic wines from red ramisco grapes, planted in sand dunes, and gently aromatic whites based on Malvasia.

For the Lisboa region as a whole, the main traditional white varieties are arinto, fernão pires, malvasia, seara-nova and vital, and for reds, alicante bouschet, aragonez, castelão, tinta miúda, touriga franca, touriga nacional and trincadeira, but many other national and foreign grapes are now used for VR wines and certain DOC wines.

Green light, Vinho Verde

Vinho Verde is still distinguished by its high acidity. Flavour depends on the grape varieties used: floral loureiro, steely trajadura, mineral arinto (known here as pedernã), creamy and mineral avesso, and the fine, mineral, subtly fragrant alvarinho. Another grape, called azal branco, is hard to ripen and declining in popularity, and in any case tends to get blended with more aromatic grapes. Most white Vinho Verde can be relied upon to be light, crisp and aromatic, often with a light prickle of fizz, and sometimes with a touch of sweetness.

Vinho Verde © Wines of Portugal – Sogrape

Vinho Verde is still distinguished by its high acidity. Flavour depends on the grape varieties used: floral loureiro, steely trajadura, mineral arinto (known here as pedernã), creamy and mineral avesso, and the fine, mineral, subtly fragrant alvarinho. Another grape, called azal branco, is hard to ripen and declining in popularity, and in any case tends to get blended with more aromatic grapes. Most white Vinho Verde can be relied upon to be light, crisp and aromatic, often with a light prickle of fizz, and sometimes with a touch of sweetness.

The fine alvarinho grape rules around the towns of Melgaço and Monção in the North, along the Minho River. The climate here is warmer and drier, the maritime influence partially blocked by hills, and the combination of grape and climate makes for richer, fuller, subtly complex wines, made dry and totally still. The DOC Vinho Verde has also permitted fully sparkling wines since 1999 — a growing and promising venture. And there is a lot of red Vinho Verde, too — dark, high in acidity, low in alcohol— made principally from the late-ripening, red-fleshed vinhão grape. There are nine sub-regions to the DOC, named after rivers or towns: Monção, Melgaço, Lima, Basto, Cávado, Ave, Amarante, Baião, Sousa and Paiva.

A primer on three endemic and increasingly important Portuguese grapes

Malvasia Fina

This is a grape of inland northern Portugal, especially the Douro, Dão and Beira Interior. It is also planted in the Távora-Varosa and Lisboa regions. The often highly aromatic malvasia fina wines are subtle, not particularly intense, reasonably fresh and moderately complex. You may detect a hint of molasses, a suggestion of beeswax and nutmeg, and the wine may appear slightly smoky even if it has not been matured in wood. Generally used for blending, it also contributes to base blends for sparkling wines in cooler areas and/or when harvested early, for instance in Távora-Varosa and Lamego. In the vineyard, malvasia fina is particularly sensitive to odium and moderately prone to rot, mildew and coulure, and yields are therefore extremely variable and inconsistent.


This Douro grape pronounced (go-vai-yoo) is now planted right across Portugal and has recently become particularly popular in the Alentejo. It produces fresh, lively wines with good acidity, plenty of body, and fresh, citrus aromas, along with notes of peach and aniseed, and lovely balance. It ages well in bottle. For years it was known as verdelho in the Douro, which led to confusion, as gouveio has nothing to do with the verdelho of Madeira. It ripens quite early, giving relatively high yields of medium-sized, tightly packed bunches of small, yellowish-green grapes that are prone to odium infection and vulnerable if rain should fall around harvest time.


This land-locked grape grows in a long north-south strip over by the border with Spain. It has various alternative regional names. Locally síria is the name used in the Beiras, but it is best known by its southern Alentejo name, roupeiro. This is the most-planted white grape in the Alentejo. Because it has a tendency to oxidise, síria/roupeiro is a wine to drink young. In its youth it is exuberantly aromatic, citrus and floral, with hints of peach, melon and bay. It does better in the cool uplands of the Beiras than in the heat of the Ribatejo and Alentejo, and is particularly successful in the Pinhel region in the northern sector of the Beira Interior. The síria gives high yields, and bunches and grapes are small.

Allow the WineAlign Crü to take you on a tasting trip through many of Portugal’s finest wine regions. We tasted dozens of examples available in Ontario and these are but a handful that impressed us — so much so that we’ve assembled this list as recommended best buys, many of which are currently available at the LCBO.

Buyers’ Guide to Portuguese wines:


Esporao Reserva Red 2019, Alentejo
$26.95, FWP Trading Inc. (LCBO, #606590)
John Szabo – Deeply coloured, richly fruity and also oaky in the Esporão house style (almost old school Rioja-like, such is the impact of the oak), this 2019 is a concentrated, also notably raisined red wine, with sweet date and prune flavours pleasantly enmeshed into the ensemble. The palate is broad and full bodied at 14.5 percent declared, and length and depth are good to very good. This should satisfy widely. Drink or hold 2 to 4 years.
Sara d’Amato – The Esporão Reserva is made from vines that average 20 years of age and features a blend of local and international grape varieties such as alicante bouschet, touriga nacional, aragonez (tempranillo), syrah, trincadeira, cabernet sauvignon and touriga franca. Taught but also generous in the fruit department, aged 12 months in American and French oak barrels for a seemlessly integrated spice profile. Flavours of black plum, tart red currant cherry and dark chocolate dominate the palate. The tannins still exhibit youthful vigour but should integrate nicely over time. Organically certified.
Michael Godel – Herdade de Esporão owns a long lineage of experience, something in the vicinity of 750 years — so that’s more than something. The Portuguese idiom changes gears a bit here with knowable and notable wood usage, vanilla and lavender French meets toasted nutty American for a silky smooth and suave red. Comparative study with Rioja Reserva would be prudent and offer a stylistic view, something that adds to the point of this being alternative in the regional oeuvre. Lots of wine here and some hedonism too. Fans of Napa cabernet might also wish to have a go.


Astronauta Baga Bruto Blanc De Noir 2018

Astronauta Baga Bruto Blanc De Noir 2018, Bairrada
$22.50, Le Savoir-Boire (LCBO #26706)
John Szabo – A baga-based traditional method from Bairrada, the home of such sparkling wines in Portugal, this is a straw-coloured, flavourful wine with plenty of autolysis character. Appley fruit and toasty-leesy notes dominate, and length and depth are very good. Solid value.
David Lawrason – This pours mature, medium gold. The nose is quite generous and rich with shortbread, vague honey, wilted yellow flower and spicy aromas. Alsmost a sunflower seed/popcorn kernel nuttiness as well. It is light to medium bodied, lively and fairly intensely flavoured. Finishes dry and almost salty. The length is excellent.


Pedra Cancela Dao Selecao Do Enologo 2018

Pedra Cancela Dão Selecao Do Enologo 2018, Dão
$16.79, Noble Estates (Consignment)
Michael Godel – Curiously aromatic Dão blend, of touriga nacional, alfrochiero and tinta roriz, the middle variety perhaps the catalyst for the exoticism expressed. Like a cross between pomegranate and orange blossom and that feeling at dusk, in late Spring, in a Dão garden. Perfectly weighted, concentration without density, alcohol in moderation and those aromas ever persistent. Great value here.
David Lawrason – From one of my favourite regions of Portugal, this three-grape blend shows a fairly reserved, woodsy, savoury and cedary nose with strawberry/red cherry fruit. Quite complex. It is medium weight with firm acdity, minerality and tension that marks this region. Tannins are quite fine but certainly present, and there is a sour-edge as well. The length is very good to excellent. There is a vinosity and lift that reminds me of good pinot noir.

Adega De Penalva Maceration Pelliculaire 2021, Dão
$22.20, Le Sommelier (LCBO #25231)
Michael Godel – Maceration pelliculaire, literally “film” or skin maceration, is all about aroma extraction and that is surely this white blend’s number one strength. A quick contact and one to bring out the citrus blossoms and this surely captures those scents. Otherwise quite easy and open, tart and lemon all over the palate. A simple Branco without complication.
John Szabo – The Adega de Penalva is one of the leading cooperatives in the area, with around a thousand member growers whose average holding amounts to barely over a hectare. This blend of local varieties — 40 percent cerceal branco, 30 percent encruzado, and 30 percent malvasia — is hand-harvested from vineyards planted on granite soils, fermented spontaneously and macerated on skins for nearly three weeks before ageing five months in used French barrels. It offers some tannic grip on the palate — not quite “orange” in style — alongside quite rich, ripe fruit flavours in the yellow-fleshed spectrum — apricot, nectarine, yellow plum and the like — with no noticeable wood influence. Acids line up nicely and the overall depth and concentration are very solid. Clean, well-made, characterful wine at an attractive price. Drink or hold 2 to 4 years — the phenolics should keep this going for a few years.


Vicente Faria Animus 2019, Douro
$13.00, Profile Wine Group (VinVino) (LCBO #535641 )
Michael Godel – A tale of one tinta and two tourigas, classically Douro, mid-weight while easy of alcohol on one side and fulsome to the other. Falls into line with so many quality European reds of ripe-to-chalky fruit matched so well by top notch acidity. Like barbera and sangiovese and here from a most generous vintage. Screaming value.
David Lawrason – This is a typically sturdy Douro red with its granitic/ferrous core, taut acidty and firm tannin. The aromas are low key but quite complex strawberry/plum, dusty wood and spice. It is medium-full bodied, warming and fairly tannic. The length is good to very good. Lots here for $13.

Quinta Da Pedra Alta Pedra A Pedra Branco 2018

Quinta Da Pedra Alta Pedra A Pedra Branco 2018, Douro
$19.45, Buyers + Cellars Wine Purveyors (LCBO, #125558)
John Szabo – About equal parts rabigato and gouveio from Pedra Alta’s highest vineyard in the heart of the Douro Valley, this 2018 white blend is evolving fairly slowly at this stage and still shows considerable effervescence on the palate — carbon dioxide added, no doubt, to maintain freshness. White and yellow fleshed orchard fruit mingle on the light-mid-weight palate registering 12.5 percent alcohol on the label, with crispy acids and no signs of wood influence. A pleasant introduction to the whites of this predominantly red wine zone, well worth a look at the price — carafe to dissipate the CO2 if desired and drink over the next 2-4 years.
David Lawrason – This is a blend of 52% rabigato and 48% gouveio, two local varieties grown at high altitude. This is a very pristine, precise white — light on its feet somehow with pleasant minerality at its core. The aromas are quite pretty and floral with lemon blossom, fine herbs and yellow plum. It is light to medium bodied, fresh and delicate, and ever so lightly sprtized. The length is very good to excellent.
Michael Godel – Essentially half and half rabigato and gouveio, aromatic and also viscous for a Douro white both floral and textured. Flavours are not quite as developed and so citrus, namely lemon and lime predominate. Not neutral per se but on the mineral side and so the aromas and mouthfeel are really what drive this wine.

Astronauta Moscatel do Douro

Astronauta Moscatel Do Douro, Douro
$22.35, Le Savoir-Boire (LCBO #26704)
John Szabo – A fortified, 17-percent-alcohol, amber-orange coloured moscatel (galego branco) from the Douro, this is pleasantly fragrant in the varietal idiom, like sun-dried orange peel and golden raisins, candied citrus and acacia honey, marzipan and bitter chocolate, and an appealing resinous herbal/bay leaf note. It’s complex and inviting. The palate is sweet to be sure, but also well balanced by both acids and phenolics (tannins) adding their pleasantly bitter counterpoint to the sugar so that the ensemble remains highly drinkable. Enjoy with a proper chill (10º-12ºC) with dried fruit tarts, not to sweet. A terrific value in the genre, ready to enjoy.
David Lawrason – This medium sweet moscatel pours fairly deep amber. The nose is generous with classic sultana raisin, orange peel and caramel aromas, along with walnut. It is medium bodied, creamy, smooth and sweet with 17 percent alcohol burning through the finish. Flavour concentration and acuity is excellent. There is some drying tannin on the finish.

Quinta do Cume White Reserva 2019, Douro
$24.95, Buyers + Cellars Wine Purveyors (LCBO, #20079)
John Szabo – A native Douro blend of just over half malvasia fina with 15 percent each of gouveio, viosinho and rabigato from high altitude young and old vines, this is ripe and aromatic wine with notable sweet oak flavour that will need some more time to integrate (partially barrel fermented). For now, sweet vanilla spice and caramel lead over white fruit of impressive concentration and depth. I like the creamy texture and balanced, 13 percent alcohol declared, with fresh acids and very good length.
David Lawrason – This is not a highly demonstrative white but it has some class and complexity. It compiles four local Douro white varieties grown at high altitude on granitic soils, partially barrel fermented to add some spicy complexity. It pours fairly deep lemon. Peach, lemon, herbal and cedary spice generously lift on the nose. It is medium bodied, fairly smooth and almost creamy with some tension and warmth. Very nicely made and the length is excellent.
Michael Godel – Quinta do Cume’s gorgeous white is a four poster blend of malvasia fina, rabigato, gouveio and viosinho. It may be bright and openly expressive but there is great depth and complexity lurking in the shadows. Beautiful from the beginning and inviting but how special is it when you just intuit there is so much more to be revealed. No reduction, some vanilla cream by the barrel and just exquisite texture requited, rendered and resolved. A special white in so many ways.

Quinta do Cume Selection 2017, Douro
$26.15, Esprit du Vin (Consignment)
John Szabo – Still luminescent, purple-red in colour, with lively, fruity-floral aromatics to match, this is an energetic and lively blend of 40 percent touriga franca with 30 percent touriga nacional, 20 percent tinta roriz and 10 percent alicante bouschet. I like the purity of fruit and the drinkability on offer; structure is modest but depth and length are good. A wine to enjoy over the next 3 to 6 years or so. Well done. Well-made.
David Lawrason – This is a stylish, generous Douro red showing quite complex and appealing toasty, cedary, vanillin, red rose and blueberry aromas. It is md-weight, fairly juicy and concentrated. I really like the tension and liveliness. Tannins are quite gritty but not out of balance. The length is very good.
Michael Godel – A traditional blend mainly, of touriga franca, touriga nacional, tinta roriz and alicante bouschet, dark as any of the Douro, tart and heavily influenced by the barrel. Black fruit, nutty tones, accents sweet and peppery, laden with graphite, creosote and eucalyptus. Somewhat typical and very “made.”


Astronauta Touriga Nacional 2017

Astronauta Touriga Nacional 2017, Lisboa
$21.30, Le Savoir-Boire (LCBO #26709)
John Szabo – Deep, almost inky coloured, with a rich, violet and black plum-flavoured, maturing and ripe palate, this is a satisfying and modern-styled touriga from near Lisbon. The palate is thick and full, though clocks in at a reasonable 13.5 percent alcohol declared, while length and depth are good to very good. This should appeal widely and satisfy. Drink or hold into the mid-2020s.

Vinho Verde

Adega Cooperativa de Ponte de Lima Loureiro Vinho Verde 2020

Adega Cooperativa de Ponte de Lima Loureiro Vinho Verde 2020, Vinho Verde
$15.27, Rocha & Sons Fine Wines & Spirits Inc. (RS Fine Wines & Spirits Inc.) (Consignment)
John Szabo – A rare pure Loureiro from the Lima sub-region of Vinho Verde, this is clean and fragrant white wine with a light spritz, simple, lively and ultimately refreshing. I like the lime-citrus and lemongrass flavours, the crackling acids, and especially the price. Patio white wine drinkers rejoice — this is everything that $15 Vinho Verde should be.

Vinho Regional Aletejano

J. Portugal Ramos Loios White 2020

J. Portugal Ramos Loios White 2020, Vinho Regional Aletejano
$9.80, Sylvestre Wines & Spirits (LCBO #92114)
John Szabo – This is a clean, fresh, well-made white at a very attractive price. White-fleshed orchard fruit, white grapefruit, green apple and lime mix with a gentle floral side on a light-weight palate registering 12.5 percent alcohol, with mild acids and soft texture. The finish lingers admirably for the price point. You can’t ask for much more from a $10 white. Enjoy now.
David Lawrason – This is a bright, fresh, fairly smooth if slightly sour-edged white with generous aromas of pear, subtropical yellow fruit and a musk/lily perfume. It is light-bodied, dry and easy drinking with a somehat glossy feel, then a sour-edged finish. The length is very good. Chill well.

Herdade São Miguel Colheita Seleccionada Tinto 2020, Alentejano, Vinho Regional Aletejano
$17.95, Noble Estates Wines & Spirits (LCBO #70730)
John Szabo – A properly rustic and swarthy, flavourful and well-priced red from the Alentejo, I prefer this less expensive bottling to the “Winemaker’s Choice,” admittedly. Tannins are comfortable and acids are juicy, giving desire for additional sips. Best now to 2025.
Michael Godel – As opposed to Herdade São Miguel’s Escolha Dos Enologos or “oeologist’s” choice, here is the younger or second sibling, the Colheita Seleccionada, or vintage selection, a similar if more rustic and natural energy alternative. Similar drive as well if a bit coarse and clunky but still a good mouthful of red Portuguese juice. Not for laying down.

São Miguel Escolha Dos Enologos 2020, Vinho Regional Aletejano
$24.95, Noble Estates Wines & Spirits (LCBO #445122)
David Lawrason – This wears its origins in the sunny south of Portugal with some charm and sophistication. The nose is generous, easy and complex with ripe, almost confected berry fruit, fine vanillin, subtle herbs and spice. It is medium-full bodied with very good acidity and fine sandy structure. The length is very good to excellent.
Michael Godel – The “oenologist’s” choice, made from alicante bouschet blended with the two tourigas in the silky smooth way of the modern Alentejo. Liquid peppery piques and fruit valleys, surprisingly aromatic, a mineral and floral mix, charcoal and violets, plenty of immediate engagement. Stylish and chic, still with good beating heart acids and a finish that’s got meaty beefiness, a burger with brisket and beef heart, hot off the grill.

Vinho Regional Lisboa

Quinta De Bons Ventos Lisboa VR 2019

Quinta De Bons Ventos Lisboa VR 2019, Vinho Regional Lisboa
$10.50, Majestic Wine Cellars (LCBO #462051)
Sara d’Amato – Made for commercial appeal, this sultry red blend from close to Lisbon exhibits delicious saltiness despite the presence of oak spice and ripe red fruit. Licorice and violets along with black pepper enhance the dark fruit on the palate. Notes of cedar and cured meat juxtapose the freshness on the palate. Well-crafted, this wine still offers a sense of place.

Confidencial Reserva Red 2017, Vinho Regional Lisboa
$14.95, Majestic Wine Cellars (LCBO #452789)
Sara d’Amato – This blend of 10 unnamed varieties has lots to offer for the price. Extended skin maceration has produced a pigmented wine that offers more fruit concentration than expected. Partial barrel aging for six months in French and Portuguese oak contributes a fair amount of wood spice including fresh cedar, vanilla, toast and sandalwood. A floral component along with saltiness and licorice add dimension to the black and blue fruit on the palate. Nicely balanced, mid-weight with good length. Vegan friendly.
David Lawrason – This is a barrel aged blend of local varieties grown in the maritime Lisboa region. It has a fairly generous blackberry/plum jam nose with violet undertones, gentle spice and vanilla. Not distinctive but pleasant. It is medium-full bodied, fairly dense, warm and lively, with fine, firm tannin and very good length.
Michael Godel – This Lisboa red blend must have been a bruiser early on, never mind the cost, as it has now settled but does show remnants of its grip and also austerity. Now a matter of lift post heft and energy without constraints. Good timing and equally proper value are the end result.

Casa Santos Lima Colossal Reserva 2018

Casa Santos Lima Colossal Reserva 2018, Vinho Regional Lisboa
$16.95, Majestic Wine Cellars (LCBO #548867)
Michael Godel – Usually a blend of syrah, touriga nacional, alicante bouschet and tinto roriz in a much brighter, lifted and spirited wine in 2018. Drifts up and away from the banal and the mire to float in a Lisboa ocean breeze where fruit, salinity and pleasure all coexist. There can be some bottle variation and this one is a winner.
David Lawrason – Still showing youthful purple tones and quite deep colour, this has a generous pretty floral, slightly jammy blackberry nose with vanillin, tobacco and gentle spice. It is full bodied, fairly rounded and smooth but has an energized, warm core. And the firm but not green tannin confirm its youth. Some minerality on the finish. The length is very good.

This feature was commissioned by Wines of Portugal. As a regular feature, WineAlign tastes wines submitted by a single winery, agent or region. Our writers independently, as always, taste, review and rate the wines – good, bad and indifferent, and those reviews are posted on WineAlign. We then independently recommend wines to appear in the article. Wineries, wine agents, or regions pay for this service. Ads for some wines may appear at the same time, but the decision on which wines to put forward in our report, and its content, is entirely up to WineAlign.