Thursday, April 23, 2009

Discover the Wines of Portugal

Several times a year the wineries of Portugal come to Toronto – some of the events are large and some of them are small. On Tuesday, April 14th, trade people in Toronto were treated to a medium sized tasting made up of producers who, for the most part, were looking for representation in the area. Now, what this means is that while you may have a hard time getting your hands on most of these wines right now, once they have representation, they have some really amazing prices on their wines so that they can enter into our market relatively easy.

This particular tasting was host to nine wineries, approximately seventy different whites, roses, reds and Ports to sample. Here are some of my favourites:

Adega Cooperativa de Favaios
Foral da Vila DOC 2007 White
Just an amazing floral, fruity nose on this wine followed by an incredible balance of flavours on the palate. Although, traditionally, Rose’s are the summer sippers of choice, this one is a very pleasant change and may quickly become a favourite.

Uniao das Adegas Cooperativasda Regiao dos Vinhos Verdes, UCRL
Terras de Gelgueiras Espadeiro 2007 Rose
There is a nice little hit of effervescence floating up through the glass which makes this a very “pretty” wine to look at. Although the nose does become very faint when it is over chilled (which is why you will want this wine a little less cool than you would normally have a Rose), the flavours in the glass more than make up for it. Although I would not normally associate a cheese flavour with a Rose wine since it tends to be more fruit than anything else, this particular wine has a distinctive smoked Gouda flavour that is unmistakable.
They were passing around crostini with Mozzarella and Basil at the tasting that matched perfectly with this wine so it stands to reason that this wine will pair perfectly with a Margherita Pizza.

Cooperativa Agricola Santo Isidro de Pegoes
Adega de Pegoes Trincadeira 2007
This is one of those wines that sneaks up on you. On the nose, there is very little to this but when you take your first taste beware because you could end up with whiplash. Mark, who tasted this wine alongside me, said “it goes from 0-60 in 3 seconds.” If you want a fabulous food pairing with this here are two words for you – MINI BURGERS!

Soadegas – Sociedade Comercial de Vinhos, LDA
Mirante 2007 Red
Everything about this wine was amazing – the colour, the aromas, the flavours. The colour was this raspberry red shade with a purple hue…unlike anything I had seen before. The aromas were a wonderful combination of berry fruit and floral while the flavours were smooth, silky, perfectly balanced and a continuation of the aromas. Without a doubt, this was the best table wine I had that day.

Caves Santa Marta Vinhos e Derivados, CRL
Porto 10 Anos
Very pleasant Port overall – aromas of raisins & currants, flavours of the same with a hit of spice at the end. Definitely a great way to finish off an evening.

Caves Santa Marta Vinhos e Derivados, CRL
Porto LBV 2000
Slightly sweeter than the 10 year old Port above but very similar flavours. The extra time on the vines contributes to the extra sweetness – similar to how a Late Harvest wine from Ontario is slightly sweeter than a table wine.

Caves Santa Marta Vinhos e Derivados, CRL
Porto Vintage 2004
To be a Vintage port, the grapes used in it have to be picked in a year that Portugal’s governing body on wines designates as a Vintage year – 2004 was such a year. Although this is the youngest wine on the table, it is showing much more complexity and intrigue than any of its older counterparts so imagine how this is going to taste 10, 20 and 30 years down the road. If you are looking for a good food pairing for this, the restaurant was serving a goat cheese and olive crostini that went very well with it but anything with goat cheese and black olives will work.

Caves Vale do Rodo, CRL
Porto Vintage 2004
As I mentioned with the previous wine, Portugal’s governing body on wines designated 2004 as a Vintage year. This particular wine epitomizes exactly why 2004 was designated such a year. It has an amazing purple ruby colour going on with it and the aromas have this really intriguing mix of cooked fruit but with just a kick of citrus…well, mostly lemon but I think I caught a hint of orange as well just before I took a sip of it. The aromas continue on to the flavours making it seamless and this particular Port had a long, lingering, smooth, delectable finish. Definitely a perfect way to end the afternoon.
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