RKS Wines: Some Portuguese Wines to Finish Off the Year: Part 1: Vinho do Bispado

After just about finishing off an intensive virtual tasting of Ports from the Douro it might be time to come back to earth and finish off the year with some Portuguese table wines. While there is no real competition to Port there is plenty of competition raging against Portuguese table wines.

The Douro produces some very worthy red wines with mostly indigenous grapes. One wonders how long this rigidity will last. It was the Super Tuscans in Italy that challenged Tuscan categorizations so I query just how long before we see Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon or Syrah sneaking into the Douro to shake things up. The last thing I want to see is the demise of Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional or Rebigato but the time may come when some excitement will shake up the Douro as it has done in Alentejano or Lisboa.

We try a Vinha do Bispado with a blend of 40% Touriga Nacional, 30% Tinta Roriz and 30% Touriga Franca 40% of which has aged 8 months in French barrels and 60% in stainless steel.

Black cherry in colour. There is a creamy base to the wine on the nose with effusive blackberry, fig, rhubarb, coconut and hazelnut wafer cookies. On the palate the tannins are mild and the palate has a refreshing lightness to it perhaps my reaction to reviewing 6 successive Ports. The light and airy body has blackberry, cassis and cherry pie to it. Could we say “light and airy” gives the wine a dash of “freshness” to it? This lightness is not often my experience with Douro reds but don’t they say a change is as good as a rest?

Can I say not your typical Douro red? In fact its uniqueness is rather enchanting. The finish is short and light. While many Douro reds are ideal for beef, goat and duck this lighthearted wine would suit Bachalau very well which might be a generalization as there are over 300 recipes for this “national” Portuguese dish!

(Vinha do Bispado 2018, DOP Douro, Casa Agrícola A Roboredo Madeira, Almendra Douro Superior, Portugal, $10.30, LCBO #923903, 750 mL,13.5%, Robert K. Stephen A Little Birdie Told Me So Rating 89/100).

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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