The extremely drinkable wines coming out of Portugal right now might be considered new, and the region deemed “emerging,” but the country has a tradition of winemaking that dates back to the Roman Empire. Hundreds of indigenous grape varieties grow here—like Baga, Alfrocheiro and Fernão Pires—many of which are blended, as is the Old World way.
Most of us, when we think of Portuguese wine, imagine a sweet ruby or nutty tawny after-dinner port. But the bottles to look out for are those you might serve during the main course: crisp, aromatic whites that beg to be sipped with plump oysters and spring salads. Reds ranging from light and juicy to powerful and complex. And, most exciting of all, grape varieties many of us have never heard of—until now.
In the Douro Valley, a region wine lovers know for its rocky schist soils and staggering views, port wines reign. But the same grapes used for them—such as Tinta Roriz, sometimes called Aragonez and known as Tempranillo in Spain, and Touriga Nacional, considered Portugal’s noblest grape—are now being turned into elegant non-fortified wines.
Despite seemingly unexpected, it comes as no surprise to those in the know that 3 of the 4 best wines in the world according to Wine Spectator are Portuguese, though it is by no means an easy accomplishment. This is a direct result of Portuguese wine producers' great competence and professionalism, allied to brilliant national and foreign enologists dedicated to achieving quality results and taking advantage of the unique grape varieties and "Terroir".
It's not the first time these references are highlighted worldwide, but this enormous honour is definitely worthy immense praise.
The Portuguese winners, below:
#1: Dow's - Vintage Port 2011
Powerful, refined and luscious, with a surplus of dark plum, kirsch and cassis flavors that are unctuous and long. Shows plenty of grip, presenting a long, full finish, filled with Asian spice and raspberry tart accents. Rich and chocolaty. One for the ages. Best from 2030 through 2060. – Kim Marcus
#3: Prats & Symington - Douro Chryseia 2011
An elegant and monolithic red, pure and powerful, with hints of lushness to the concentrated red plum, raspberry and dark currant flavors. This is filled with black olive and baker’s chocolate notes, backed up by grippy tannins. Finishes with refined accents of slate and white pepper. Best from 2016 through 2022. – Kim Marcus
#4: Quinta Do Vale Meão - Douro 2011
A lush, seductive red, filled to the brim with an array of dark fruit and kirsch flavors, accented by plenty of cream and spice notes. Silky tannins and molten chocolate hints add richness. The long finish echoes with mineral and white pepper details. Best from 2015 through 2022. – Kim Marcus
To see the full list, visit: http://2014.top100.winespectator.com/