Big, bold reds are a specialty of Portugal. While there are great warm-hearted offerings from the southern Alentejo, the best examples come from the two northern regions of Douro and Dão, which specialize in the country’s star grape, Touriga Nacional.
The two regions are situated within 50 miles of each other, yet their styles are quite distinct. The Douro, also home to Port wines, produces reds that are luscious, concentrated and dense. The best examples have a line of firm tannins that allows them to age for 10–15 years or more. The Dão, with its granite soil, produces wines that are driven by minerality and structure. They age equally well, always preserving a firm and solid core.
There are not many wine countries where you can buy such impressive wines for under $30.
In the 20 years that I have been following Portugal, the best winemaking traditions, some of which date back to the Roman era, have been maintained. However, alongside these traditions have been advancements in vine growing and winemaking, which have brought Portugal into the modern era.
In the Douro, many of the top still reds come from the great traditional Port producers, such as Quinta da Romaneira, Poças and Quinta da Carvalhas. The Dão, held back for years by the dominance of under funded cooperatives, has blossomed as talented producers like Casa Anadia and Casca Wines have realized the potential of this mountainous area.
These two wine regions are featured strongly in this month’s Buying Guide. Portugal continues to astonish thanks to the increasing quality of its wines and their terrific value. There are not many wine countries where you can buy such impressive wines for under $30.
Recommended wines from Douro
Quinta do Sagrado 2011 Reserva (Douro); $24, 93 points. From a great Douro vintage, this is a ripe wine, packed with generous fruit and concentrated tannins. Berry flavors and juicy acidity dominate a wine that has plenty of power while keeping elegance and stylishness. Drink now. Skurnik Wines, Inc. Editors’ Choice.
Rui Roboredo Madeira 2014 Castello d’Alba Vinhas Velhas (Douro); $24, 92 points. A field blend dominated by old-vine Touriga Nacional, this is a richly endowed wood-aged wine. It is dark and concentrated, packed with juicy black fruits and acidity. The tannins support the ripe fruitiness. Drink this generous wine from 2018. MS Walker.
Secret Spot Wines 2014 Vale da Poupa Reserva Field Blend (Douro); $19, 92 points. Aged in wood for up to 14 months, this wine is rich and smooth. Produced from low-yielding old vines, it’s a field blend of many different varieties. It is ripe with layers of black currant and spice flavors along with acidity. The wine has weight but remains stylish. Drink from 2018. Vintage Wine Marketing.
Manuel Carvalho Martins 2015 Golpe (Douro); $19, 91 points. Full of dark tannins, this has bold black fruits, with acidity to balance. The wine is impressive with its weight, concentration, dense texture and spicy aftertaste. Drink this wine from 2019. Value Vines LLC.
Quevedo 2014 Claudia’s Reserve (Douro); $25, 91 points. This is a dense, mineral and structured wine. Produced by the sister-and-brother team of Claudia and Oscar Quevedo, it is firm, with layers of black fruits, acidity and a solid tannic core. The wood-aged wine is made for aging and will be better from 2019. P.R. Grisley Company.
Quinta das Carvalhas 2014 Touriga Nacional (Douro); $22, 91 points. This is the estate wine from this flagship estate of Real Companhia Velha. It is ripe and juicy, full of open, generous black fruits and balanced acidity. The structure gives it a firm character that will allow it to age. Drink this wine from 2019. Saranty Imports.
Magnum Vinhos 2014 Tom de Baton (Douro); $16, 90 points. Produced from old vines, this generous wine is ripe with black fruits, with a juicy, dense texture as well as ripe tannins. The structure is comfortably cushioned within the rich fruitiness, giving way to a crisp, lingering aftertaste. Drink now. Wine Bridge Imports. Editors’ Choice.
Rui Roboredo Madeira 2014 Quinta do Côa (Douro); $20, 90 points. Produced from organic grapes grown in the dry Côa valley, this is a pure, fruited wine with a black-plum-skin texture and firm tannins. With its layers of acidity, it is crisp at the end while remaining solidly textured. The wine needs to age further, drink from 2018. MS Walker.
Wines & Winemakers 2014 Aguia Moura em Vinhas Velhas Reserva (Douro); $18, 90 points. With minty wood flavors, this wine is smooth and polished. It offers berry fruits from the blend of 10 varieties in this old-vine vineyard. With spice and some firm tannins in the background, it is ready to drink. Best Brands Incorporated. Editors’ Choice.
Recommended wines from Dão
Casa Anadia 2014 Reserva (Dão); $20, 92 points. Dating back to the 16th century, this estate produces some classic Dão wines. With its rich tannins and minerality and with the influence of Touriga Nacional in this field blend, this wine is structured, still firm with tannins. Luscious fruits are held in check by the tannins. Let it soften more and drink from 2019. Irokos Group.
Magnum Vinhos 2014 Ribeiro Santo Reserva (Dão); $19, 91 points. This ripe, perfumed wine is an opulent blend of Touriga Nacional with smaller proportions of Tinta Roriz and Alfrocheiro. It is juicy, ripe, concentrated and dense, with abundant black fruits. This harmonious wine could age a little longer and will be at its best from 2018. Wine Bridge Imports. Cellar Selection.
Casa Anadia 2014 Colheita (Dão); $15, 90 points. A blend that includes Touriga Nacional and Alfrocheiro, this is a well-structured wine. Tannins and black fruits are seamlessly integrated to give weight and richness. The acidity, the mineral texture and the density all contribute to a wine that will be ready to drink from 2018. Irokos Group. Best Buy.