Portugal’s wines have a great advantage on the global stage. They represent outstanding value and offer extremely high quality-to-price ratios. Sure, Best Buys priced at $15 and under abound, but the true value is in the $20–$40 range. The selection of excellent wines available at a fraction of the price of almost any other region is astonishing.
Much of this variety is driven by young winemakers who relish the chance to craft great wines (often blends) beyond Port, Madeira and a few legendary bottlings. They’re not restrained by tradition, but they also never forget their vinous roots.
Portugal is a small country of Atlantic climates. Light, crisp whites are crafted in the north; big, bold reds are produced in the south; Ports and just about everything else can be made in between. There’s a fantastic array of native grape varieties that produce unique, enticing aromas and flavors.
What follows are 40 wines rated at 90 points or higher that retail between $20 and $40. Though there are plenty more to consider, this list will likely set off your Portuguese love affair. How do you say thank you in Portuguese? Obrigado.
Fruity Red Wines
All Portuguese wines are indeed fruity. But some just burst with bold fruit flavors, brightened by ample acidity and a lack of extended wood aging. As with many native grape varieties here, like Alfrocheiro or Touriga Nacional, there will always be some tannic structure. But for these wines, a juicy character is always at the core, with a fruity perfume and elegant structure. Cool regions, like coastal Bairrada and Lisboa, and Dão, with its mountain vineyards on granite rock, are particularly good at this style of wine.
Campolargo 2015 Rol de Coisas Antigas (Bairrada); $30, 92 points. This is a balanced blend of seven grapes, headed by Bairrada’s own Baga. It is this grape that gives the tannins and tight acidity that dominate this structured wine. Its potential is considerable, with its texture still evolving. The black-currant fruits at the end are crisp and will soften with age. Drink from 2019. M Imports, LLC.
Casa da Passarella 2013 O Oenólogo Vinhas Velhas (Dão); $35, 92 points. From 24 different varieties of old vines, this wine is rich, bold and ripe. Without any wood aging, it is solid with tannins and dense structure. There is a juicy background coming from the blackberry and damson fruits. Drink this serious, ageworthy wine from 2019. M Imports, LLC.
Casa Santos Lima 2014 Confidencial Reserva (Lisboa); $26, 92 points. One of the top wines from this producer, this blend of at least 10 grape varieties comes from its estate. The wood aging has added sophistication to this already concentrated wine. With black fruits to the fore and firm tannins, it will age well. Drink from 2019. Tri-Vin Imports. Editors’ Choice.
DFJ Vinhos 2015 Francos Reserva (Lisboa); $29, 92 points. This is a flagship wine for DFJ owner and winemaker José Neiva Correia. It is generous while preserving great style and elegance. The black berry fruits and layers of tannins are well balanced with the acidity and the light wood aging. A wine to savor, it will be ready to drink from 2018. DHI Selections. Editors’ Choice.
Messias 2013 Quinta do Valdoeiro Reserva Colheita (Bairrada); $24, 91 points. This Messias family vineyard is close to their main winery in Bairrada. The wine, with its proportion of Baga, is full of acidity as well as tannins and black-currant fruit. It offers a touch of saltiness as well as spice. The wine is just approaching maturity so drink from 2018. LGL Imports, LLC.
Real Companhia Velha 2015 Evel Reserva (Douro); $35, 91 points.This wine is rich and firmly structured. Ripe black fruits are integrated into a generous texture, full acidity and with a great base of tannins. It still needs to age. Drink from 2019. Metrowine Distribution.
Wines & Winemakers 2015 Companhia das Lezírias Herdade de Catapereiro Single Vineyard Escolha (Tejo); $18, 91 points. This organic vineyard in the northern reaches of Tejo regularly produces concentrated wines like this. It’s richly endowed with fine tannins and black fruit but also has the sort of structure that will allow it to age well. Drink from 2019. Iberia Wine & Spirits, LLC. Editors’ Choice.
José Maria da Fonseca 2014 Domini Plus (Douro); $40, 90 points. Attractively perfumed, this wine offers rich berry fruits, dense tannins and a firm structure. The fruits and the tannins will come together in a year or two, so drink this wine from 2019. Palm Bay International.
Quinta das Marias 2015 Alfrocheiro (Dão); $24, 90 points. The grape that is very local to the Dão region has produced a dense rich wine that is full of fruit. Black currants and berries shine through the firm texture and the solid tannins. The aftertaste has tangy minerality and plenty of acidity, both good for aging. Drink from 2019. Firo Cellars.
Bold, Rich Red Wines
Portugal’s big guns are powerful wood-aged and lushly fruited wines crafted to drink best at five years or more after harvest. These wines are terroir-driven; they showcase both the vineyards and the skill of the winemaker to create a harmonious blend. Though ripe and concentrated, they never lose sight of the fruitiness that makes Portuguese wines so drinkable. The Douro and the southern vineyards of the Alentejo (home to most of Portugal’s cork trees) are the star regions for this category.
Quinta Vale Dona Maria 2013 VVV Valleys (Douro); $34, 95 points. In this wine, the Van Zeller family—15 generations in the Douro—is recognizing the three valleys where they have grown grapes: Pinhão, Douro and Torto. It is a rich smooth wine, powered by tannins and the wood aging. Foot trodden in open fermenters, the wine is a blend of grapes from 35-year-old vines. It is rich, still developing and will be ready to drink from 2020. MS Walker. Cellar Selection.
Monte da Ravasqueira 2014 Vinha das Romãs (Alentejano); $25, 94 points. This single-vineyard wine, made from Syrah and Touriga Franca, boasts good concentration, ample acidity, barrel spice and firm, structured tannins. LGL Imports, LLC.
Quinta de Chocapalha 2013 Vinha Mãe (Lisboa); $40, 94 points. The top red from Chocapalha, this comes from a single parcel. It has concentrated tannins, along with the minty flavors that come from new wood. Balancing that combination are the rich fruits: blackberry, damson along with a touch of licorice. It’s a powerful wine that needs aging. Drink from 2018. MundoVino–The Winebow Group.
Quevedo 2014 Q Grande Reserva (Douro); $40, 93 points. Aged for 14 months in large new-wood barrels, this wine from the Quevedo siblings is lush and generous, with swathes of ripe, rich fruit. Firm tannins promise further aging, while the juicy fruitiness shines strongly. Drink from 2019. P.R. Grisley Company.
Quinta da Romaneira 2014 Tinto (Douro); 93 points, $30. This rich wine is concentrated and ripe with black fruits and juicy acidity. With its density, fruits, wood-aging and complex texture it provides a beautiful example of a Douro blend. Minerality in this still-young wine comes through strongly. Drink from 2019. Grape Expectations (CA).
Rui Roboredo Madeira 2013 Castello d’Alba Limited Edition (Douro); $38, 93 points. This field blend has rich tannins and concentrated new-wood aging flavors. Ripe, generous mint and black-plum fruits are powered by the dark, firm texture. It demonstrates great style as well as powerful fruit and tannins. Drink from 2018. MS Walker.
Mouchão 2012 Ponte das Canas (Alentejo)$20, 93 points. From the historic Herdade do Mouchão in northern Alentejo, this is a powerful wine, full of dense tannins and impressively ripe, juicy black fruits. Syrah and Alicante Bouschet bring southern richness to Touriga Franca and Touriga Nacional. Drink this wine now. Wine In-Motion.
Sogrape 2013 Herdade do Peso Reserva (Alentejo);$30, 93 points. This wood-aged wine is a product of the new venture Sogrape has launched in Alentejo. It is powerful, dark in color and seriously concentrated. Dense tannins and a solid structure are rich with black plum and berry fruits as well as acidity. The wine is still young and needs to age. Drink from 2018. Evaton Inc.
Herdade do Esporão 2014 Esporão Reserva (Alentejo); $25, 92 points. From the heart of this large estate, this wine is powerful, structured and firm, with dense black plum and damson fruit. With the perfume of Aragonez and the structure of Alicante Bouschet, this fine wine still needs time to develop. Drink from 2019. Aidil Wines/Old World Import.
Quinta da Alorna 2013 Marquesa da Alorna Grande Reserva (Tejo);$26, 92 points. Named after the fourth Marquesa who was a noted poet, this dense and concentrated wine is all about power and intensity. It has dark tannins, bold black fruits and super-rich wood-aged flavors. It is made to age further, and will be better from 2019. American B.D. Cellar Selection.
Quinta do Crasto 2014 Superior (Douro);$30, 92 points.This wine has fine tannins, rich black fruits and a dry core. It is produced by the Roquette family, who owns this spectacular estate high above the Douro. A solid, structured wine, it’s packed with tannins and fruit, finishing with acidity. Drink from 2018. Broadbent Selections Inc.
Quinta do Vallado 2014 Quinta do Orgal Organic Vineyards (Douro); $40, 92 points. This wine comes from an estate purchased by Vallado in 2008 in the upper reaches of the Douro Superior, where the owners have planted a 74-acre organic vineyard. This dense, firm wine is the first release. It’s packed with intense black plum fruit and wood spice and will continue to improve with age. Drink from 2021. Quintessential Wines.
Niepoort 2014 Vertente (Douro); $28, 91 points. This wine is rich, smooth and full of black currant fruits. It has a dense texture although the acidity suggests a crisper side. It will age relatively quickly, giving a fruity wine that has layers of acidity. Martine’s Wines.
Light White Wines
White wines are part of the psyche of this nation, which also boasts the best seafood in Europe. What better way to wash down a plate of sardines, salted cod or any sort of shellfish than with a glass of dry, light Vinho Verde from the north, or bright, crisp wine from Lisboa in the south? These are perfect apéritif wines, often low in alcohol, packed with fruit and offering little to no oak influence.
Casa do Valle 2015 Reserva Special Edition (Vinho Verde); $40, 92 points. The blend of this rich wine is dominated by Alvarinho, some of it from old vines. With its wonderful ripe fruit and layers of apricot and pear flavors, this is like no other Vinho Verde. That is except for that zingy acidity that gives the wine is refreshing fruitiness at the end. Drink now. Massanois Imports.
Adega Mãe 2015 2 2 1 Alvarinho (Portuguese Table Wine); $20, 91 points. Anselmo Mendes from granite Vinho Verde and Diogo Lopes from clay-soil Lisboa brought together the fruit of their harvests to make one limited-edition Alvarinho wine. The result: a ripe, warm and creamy character with wonderful fresh acidity. Drink this refreshing, ripe wine now. Aidil Wines/Old World Import. Best Buy.
Casa Agrícola Alexandre Relvas 2016 Herdade de São Miguel Art. Terra Amphora Branco Arinto (Alentejano); $23, 91 points. Pale gold in color, this was made in clay amphoras, giving a dry wine but one that has a honeyed edge. It is aromatic, ripe, and spicy, with an herbal character as well as good finishing acidity. Drink this limited-production wine from 2018. Editors’ Choice.
Casca Wines 2013 Monte Cascas Vinhas Velhas Old Vines Viosinho (Douro); $35, 91 points. This is a sumptuous wine from Viosinho, a grape winemakers almost gave up on due to low yields. With its lees stirred for 18 months, the wine has intensity and a lightly oxidative character. Now maturing well, its citrus fruit is becoming almost toasty, certainly nutty. Great acidity keeps this rich wine full of crispness. Drink now. Laurel Importers.
Quintas de Melgaço 2016 QM Alvarinho (Vinho Verde); $23, 91 points. Ripe Alvarinho from its home turf in the Minho Valley, this wine is immediately attractive while also having a more serious intent. There is a crisp apple edge to this textured wine along with a creamy character that makes it both smooth and intense. Drink this from early 2018. M Imports, LLC. Editors’ Choice.
Colinas do Douro 2015 Verdelho (Douro); $29, 90 points. From vineyards in the eastern Douro Superior region, this perfumed white is soft, smooth and finely balanced. The acidity is just right, giving the rich pear fruit a crisp edge and refreshing aftertaste. Drink now. Bera International.
Wood-Aged White Wines
This selection brings together some stunning white wines. Remember these great grape varieties: Encruzado, Alvarinho, Viosinho and Rabigato. They’re sometimes produced as single-variety wines, but more often blended. Though these wines are wood-aged, they’re not overpowered by oak. What distinguishes them is the combination of intense fruit and ample structure, which give them the ability to age. They’re richly textured, and they bring in yellow fruit and spice that are balanced by acidity.
Quinta da Rede 2015 Grande Reserva Branco (Douro);$26, 93 points. Packed with ripe fruit, this wood-aged wine is dense and rich. A blend of Arinto and the Douro’s local white grape, Rabigato, it is full of the ripest yellow fruits, laced through with stony minerality. The acidity and the spice from the wood give this wine its aging potential. Drink from 2019. M Imports, LLC.
Global Wines 2014 Casa de Santar Vinha dos Amores Encruzado (Dão); $30, 92 points.Who can resist a wine called the Lovers’ Vineyard? Finely aged in wood, it comes from the highest point of the Santar estate and is rich in yellow fruit and toasty spice. Creamy, smooth and lightly tangy, it needs another few months to mature. Drink from 2018. Tri-Vin Imports.
Luis Duarte 2015 Rubrica Branco (Alentejano); $23, 92 points. A straw-colored wine, this was aged in wood and is full of spice as well as fruit. Centered on Antão Vaz and Verdelho, it has acidity, apricot and citrus flavors and good acidity. Beautifully structured, it’s rich while still firm and restrained. Drink from 2018. Specialty Cellars. Editors’ Choice.
Quinta de Soalheiro 2015 Reserva Alvarinho (Vinho Verde); $40, 92 points. A rich wood-aged wine, this is dense and creamy. With acidity and toast, ripe apples as well as spice, the wine is made to age. Coming from the Alvarinho heartland of Melgaço on Portugal’s northern border, the wine has minerality and great intensity. It will be good until at least 2020. Wine In-Motion.
Secret Spot Wines 2014 Lacrau Old Vines (Douro); $25, 92 points. This rich wine is made from old vines in a field blend. With its intense acidity and ripe apple fruitiness, the wine is full and concentrated. The spice and toastiness are at peace with the fruit, giving a balanced wine that will be ready to drink from late 2017. Vintage Wine Marketing. Editors’ Choice.
Quinta das Carvalhas 2015 Carvalhas Branco (Douro); $30, 91 points. This smooth, wood-aged wine is impressively ripe and stylish. Yellow fruit and pear flavors are spiced with nutmeg and toast from the wood, giving richness and a ripe character that are balanced by acidity. Drink this wine now. Saranty Imports.
Ramos-Pinto 2015 Duas Quintas Branco Reserva (Douro); $30, 91 points. This fine wood-aged wine is rich with ripe yellow fruit and a subtle toasty character. It’s smoothly textured, brimming with fruit and spice, finishing on vibrant acidity. Impressive in its youth, it will be better from 2018. Maisons Marques & Domaines USA.
For generations, Portugal was known for its fortified wines. The British created the market for two world-class wine styles, Port and Madeira, to satisfy their need for wine that could travel around the world. Port comes from the Douro Valley in the north of Portugal, while Madeira is produced on an Atlantic archipelago southwest of Portugal. Port is produced in myriad styles, though the greatest are Vintage Ports (and their close relative, Late Bottled Vintage) and Tawny Ports, with their long wood aging. Madeira has styles from dry to sweet, though never cloying, all balanced by unforgettable acidity.
Taylor Fladgate NV 325 Anniversary Tawny Port; $40, 97 points. This is a superb blend of aged tawny Ports, blended to celebrate the company’s 325th anniversary. Filled with rich fruit, it has great depth and spicy richness although it is also impressively fresh. Dried fruits and red plums are lifted with a hint of smoky wood and good acidity. Like any tawny Port, it is ready to drink. Kobrand.
Cossart Gordon 2008 Colheita Single Harvest Bual (Madeira); $34/500ml, 94 points. The sweetest style of Madeira still has that wonderful burnt acidity that keeps it from being cloying. So while there is an initial toffee character, the wine then tightens up with orange marmalade and an intense acidity. Drink this beautiful wine now. Premium Port Wines, Inc.
Quinta do Noval 2011 Unfiltered Single Vineyard Late Bottled Vintage (Port); $27, 92 points. Coming from the great 2011 vintage, this is an impressive wine. It is rich, smooth and generous in the mouth. Dark dried fruits and acidity create a wine that is on the dry side of Ports. The tannins and acidity and the fact the wine is unfiltered mean it could age although ready now. Drink until 2030. Vintus LLC. Editors’ Choice.
Quinta de la Rosa 2012 Late Bottled Vintage (Port); $28/500ml, 91 points. The wine is rich and spicy with layers of dried raisin and prune flavors along with a light touch of acidity. Its ripe fruit is tempered by the bite of spirit that gives the wine a lift as well as adding extra richness. On the dry side of Ports, it is made to be drunk now. Winesellers, Ltd
Quinta do Portal NV Portal 6 Barrels Tawny Reserve (Port); $25, 90 points.Rich and smooth, this is a ripe and fruity wine. It has hints of wood aging as well as dried fruit to bring out a tawny character. The wine is nicely poised between freshness and some maturity. M Imports, LLC