RKS Wines: Should Portugal’s Douro Be Looking Over Its Shoulder to the Surging Alentejano?

In terms of the volume of Portuguese wines coming into Canada the Douro, leads the pack. The Douro produces top quality wines but since the grapes used in their winemaking are largely indigenous one might say their excellence is predictable. On the other hand the region in second place, Alentejano, produces excellent wines as well but adds a twist by including internationally recognized grapes in its red blends such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Alicante Bouschet adding some excitement and unpredictability to their wines. The same applies to the wines of the Lisbon region. Now you might like predictable excellence and applaud the use of indigenous grapes or you might find it boring always knowing what is in your glass. Whatever your preference over the years Alentejano has been gathering traction in Canada. Is it the excitement factor? That there is even a second place with Portuguese imports is a mini-miracle considering the Liquor Control Board’s irrational fear of disturbing money makers. LCBO where are wines from the Tejo, Bairrada, Algarve, Lisboa and the Dão?

Setting aside the polemics how is the Coutada Velha Signature 2019 from the Alentejano? On the nose it is inviting and enticing. There is a certain note of creaminess on the nose along with blueberry, black cherry, cactus pear, freshly rolled Cohiba cigars and fat ripe strawberries. On the palate the tannins are relatively mild. There are notes of cherry pie, roasted Portuguese almonds, rhubarb pie and raspberry galette. The finish is short. Although the wine has been aged in French oak for 8 months it is subtly entwined in the wine.

I would say great to drink on its own but it would match duck, beef or a vegetarian Putanesca sauce over pasta.

Immediately accessible and delicious. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Aragonez and Trincadera. Ready to drink now but it will hold until 2025. Competitive pricing!

(Coutada Velha Signature 2019, Vinho Regional Alentejano, Ravasqueira, Arriolos, Portugal, $15.95,Liquor Control Board of Ontario # 11152,750 mL 13.5%, Robert K. Stephen A Little Birdie Told Me So Rating 91/100).

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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