Let’s face in. The spotlight for international wine lovers in Portugal has been the Douro region about an hour by train from Porto to Douro wine country. Of course, even better is taking a cruise along the Douro River over to wine country. Porto was a bit rough on the edges a decade ago but it has been rejuvenated of late and unfortunately swamped by tourists particularly cruise ships so you really must escape from Porto’s centre to avoid the crush of the cruise ship passengers. As Barcelona suffered the crush with La Ramblas an artisanal centre in the 1970’s morphed into a gaudy and cheap walk for the masses of cruise ship passengers so too will be the fate of Porto. It’s waterfront is crammed with tourists I hate to say this but on my last media trip to Porto I stayed at the Sheraton out in the “business district” which seemed a more authentic area and I even managed to find a couple of local restaurants where I was the only non-Portuguese diner. I think my sardines and salad with a glass of wine was 6 Euros.
I have become increasingly impressed with the wines from the Alentejo region of Portugal which is the biggest wine region in Portugal. And its red wines are not afraid of having Alicante Bouschet in their blend which can add a warm almost creamy nature to wines it is used in. The wines from Alentejo often have “international grapes” in their blend which can make some interesting wines. For example the Quinta do Quetzal has Syrah in its blend. At $16.95 it is not exactly bargain basement but is moderately priced and I’ll guess has more oomph to it that Niagara red wines in that price point.
On the nose this quasi-purplish wine has a forceful presence of blackberry, black cherry, Santa Rosa plums and raspberry cream filling. It is warning you that it’s going to full bodied but I’ve been fooled by the nose more than a few times that can’t translate into the palate. So on the palate? There are definitely tannins to the wine not overwhelming it but giving it a firm structure. There is raspberry jam, black cherry preserves, bits of black licorice, blueberries, some coconut and a nice slab of freshly baked cherry pie. It has a moderately long finish. It will improve in the bottle and cruise nicely into 2025.Beautifully made the wine has aged 12 months in French oak casks.
A blend of Alicante Bouschet, Syrah and Aragonez.
It would suit Portuguese ox filet. Or getting domestic, grilled beef or Prime Rib Roast beef with Yorkshire Pudding!
Try the magic of Alicante Bouschet! There is more to Portuguese wines than those made in the Douro!
(Quinta do Quetzal Guadalupe Wine Maker’s Selection Red 2018, Quinta do Quetzal, Vila de Frades, Portugal, $16.95, Liquor Control Board of Ontario # 408138, 750 mL, 14.5%, Robert K. Stephen A Little Birdie Told Me So Rating 94/100).