Most wine drinkers are familiar with the fine dessert wines from Portugal but don’t often consider exploring the country’s excellent table wines. They may not be as easy to find as Oporto dessert wines, which are in wide distribution, from low-cost non-vintage wines, to reasonably priced late-bottle vintage Ports (LBV), to those from years where they declared a vintage.
With a little patience, one can find good values in white and red table wines through some of the big online shops, such as Wine.com, the source of eight wines for a recent blind tasting.
The tasting, part of a monthly series by the Carmel Valley Wine Club, featured three white and five red dry wines from Douro, Alentejo, Monçao and Melgaco, and Alenquer. Prices ranged from $19 to $75; vintages from 2014 to 2020, and alcohol levels were from 12% to 15%.
The red wines were mostly blends. Touriga Nacional is Portugal’s finest red grape variety. It is often blended with Touriga Franca and Tinta Roriz. Touriga Franca is the most widely planted grape in the Douro, currently accounting for around a fifth of total vineyard area. Tinta Roriz is enjoyed across the border in Spain, where it is known as Tempranillo.
For more information on the wine regions of Portugal and its domestic vine varieties, check Wines of Portugal.
The wines are in order of serving to the 17 panelists. Top wines and values are noted.
- 2019 Reguengo de Melgaço Alvarinho Vinho Verde ($26). Pale straw; green fruit, citrus nose; like a Spanish Albariño; mid-plus acids; semi-tight, long crisp citrus finish. 16 UC Davis scale, 90 other scales.
- 2018 Cartuxa Pêra Manca White ($50). Light green gold; floral, honeysuckle, green fruit nose; softening acids; midbody; Long semi round finish, 16/90.
- 2020 Luis Seabra Vinhos Xisto Ilimitado Branco ($30). Pale straw; floral, herbaceous, clove nose; round, mid long green fruit, mineral finish; good depth of fruit. 16.5/91.
- 2019 Herdade do Rocim Amphora Tinto ($19). Mid garnet, viscous; sweet red fruit nose, jam (50% Moreto, 30% Tinta Grossa, 15% Trincadeira, 5% Aragonez; aged in amphorae); tight, hard; one-dimensional; hard finish.15.5/89.
- 2017 Duorum Colheita ($20). Good value. Mid dark garnet, viscous; black fruit, wood, oak nose (40% Touriga Nacional, 40% Touriga Franca, 20% Tinta Roriz); mid plus tannins; opens with air; midbody; decent flavor; a little woody. 16-16.5/90-91.
- 2014 Quinta da Romaneira Douro Reserva ($75). Mid garnet; viscous; sediment; red fruit, Zinfandel-like nose (65% Touriga Franca, 35% Touriga Nacional); older earth undertones; softening acids; a little sour; faded. 16/90.
- 2018 Quinta de Chocapalha CH Touriga Nacional ($47). Best of the group. From old vines. Dark purple, viscous (15.0 alc.); ripe grape, earth, wood, cedar nose (100% Touriga Nacional from old vines; 22 months in 30% new French oak); Sangiovese-like; balanced; mid-plus tannins; deep fruit; long rich finish.16.5-17/91-92. Best red.
- 2018 Meandro do Vale Meão Douro ($23). Best value in the tasting. Dark; sediment; viscous; red fruit, pomegranate, wood, jam nose (45% Touriga Nacional, 30% Touriga Franca, 20% Tinta Roriz, 5% other); seems older; mid-body; balanced; some style; long woody finish. 16.5/91.