A Couple of Portuguese Reds

I had the great fortune to be invited to the Dão region of Portugal for a wine tour a few years ago. The Portuguese know very well how to arrange these tours. We lodged at a hotel in Viseu and made our forays into beautiful wine country each morning returning home in the late afternoon for a rest and then out for some fabulous food each night. Some of the best food was at the Quinta do Cabriz restaurant at the winery.

One winery visited was Quinta Cabriz. The red Cabriz was one of the wines we tasted and one that the Liquor Control Board of Ontario brings in in a few times of the year. It has a ruby colour. On the nose an abundance of red cherry with subsidiary notes of blackberry and violets. On the palate minimal tannins and unlike many lower priced wines it manages to carry through on the palate with the same notes as in the nose! Short finish. It certainly outperforms most Canadian wines at this price point.

As for sipping that works well. For food I don’t think it would stand up to beef but would pair well with Bachalau (cod casserole), cabrito (baby goat) or light intensity tomato sauce-based pasta or even pizza.

(Cabriz Colheita Selecionada 2017 DOC Dão, Global Wines, Carregal do Sal, Portugal, $14.95, Liquor Control Board of Ontario # 247973, 750 mL, 13%, Robert K. Stephen a little birdie told me so Rating 91/100).

We head 90 minutes north and we are back in Oporto and after a boat or train ride we are in the Douro and we try a Três Bagos 2016 Tinto Reserva. This is red blend of Tinta Roriz, Touriga Nacional and Touriga Franca which you may wish to refer to as the workhorse grapes of the Douro.

As for aromatic characteristics blueberry, black cherry and blackberry and mild but persistent tannins on the palate. Predominating are black cherry and blueberry pie but as it opens up sweet cranberry with yet more pie but this time a cherry pie. A short but stocky finish. Not much elegance but no nonsense  and straight at you wine which will bulldoze you out of the way if you dare get in its path. Perhaps better to say it is a very solid and it has just a bit of sweetness as it first hits the palate but no mistake this is a dry wine. As it aerates it puffs out its chest and opens up the throttle. So decant this wine for an hour to settle down its youthfulness.

Better with food but serious wine lovers might find it is a good quaff without food. This would work magic with rare cuts of beef or ox. Also on a more North American note you could enjoy it with some brisket or smoked meat sandwich but in Opporto you must have the deadly delicious and obscenely rich Francesina sandwich that would have a smoked meat sandwich weeping at its feet. Beef, sausage, ham and cheese topped by a variety of sauces but most made with beer and simmered for hours. If you encountered a good one like my first time at Hotel Teatro in Opporto for lunch it will tide you over. I recall having one at the hotel then going for dinner with another Canadian journalist at Postigo do Carvao and facing a feast laid out by my owner pal Alex. I looked at this tremendous spread and silently groaned but did a fine job polishing off all manner of appetizers and a huge fish platter. Thank goodness my colleague was willing to walk back for an hour to our hotel and Porto almost a decade ago was a rough and tumble city not entirely safe in parts at night. Without that walk and a litre of water before bed I just may have exploded. A word from the wise.

“bagos” can be translated into “berries”.

This will improve and be drinkable until 2026.

(Lavradores de Feitoria, Três Bagos Reserva Tinto 2016, Douro DOC, $19.95, Liquor Control Board of Ontario # 603761, 750 mL, 13.5%, Robert K Stephen a little birdie told me so Rating 94/100).

Published by Robert K Stephen (CSW)

Robert K Stephen writes about food and drink, travel, and lifestyle issues. He is one of the few non-national writers to be certified as a wine specialist by the Society of Wine Educators, in Washington, DC. Robert was the first associate member of the Wine Writers’ Circle of Canada. He also holds a Mindfulness Certification from the University of Leiden and the University of Toronto. Be it Spanish cured meat, dried fruit, BBQ, or recycled bamboo place mats, Robert endeavours to escape the mundane, which is why he has established this publication. His motto is, "Have Story, Will Write."

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