So a bit of a confession: these have been sitting at my house for waaaay too long. I received them before the end of 2020, but between the holidays and a kitchen remodel, I just wasn’t in a spot to be able to open them all at once like I wanted to.
Fortunately, between our kitchen being finished, my wife’s birthday, and our bubble all being vaccinated, we found the perfect moment to share wine with friends.
2014 CARMIN Reguengos Garrafeira Dos Socios – $48 (SRP)
A blend of Alicante Bouschet (65%), Touriga Nacional (20%), and Tinta Caiada (15%).
My wife and I actually opened this one the day before her birthday to enjoy ourselves (we’re allowed to be a little selfish). In the glass the 2014 CARMIN was a deep red with purple around the rim. On the nose it was a bit hot at first (14% alc/vol), but that gave way to notes of spice and plum. In the mouth the wine was spicy and jammy with a nice dry finish that went well with the steak, asparagus, and crispy smashed potatoes that we paired it with.
2017 Herdade Sao Miguel Colheita Seleccionada Red – $15 (SRP)
A blend of Alicante Bouschet (50%), Touriga Nacional (30%), Syrah (10%), and Cabernet Sauvignon (10%)
Deep red with hints of an orangish-pink around the rim, I got aromas of plum, cassis, and berry on the nose, all of which were juicy and jammy. In the mouth the wine was lush and dark, with flavors of red berries and blueberry in a medium-body with just a hint of tart fruit on the finish.
This one was an easy sipper and one of the favorites of the night. At $15 it’s a good value grab.
2015 Adega de Borba Reserva Red – $18 (SRP)
A blend of Trincadeira, Alicante Bouschet, Aragonez, and Castelao.
Bright red in color; vibrant and semi-opaque. I got soft and subtle aromas of red fruits and wood. In the mouth flavors of cherry and red berries, both tart and with a clean finish that didn’t linger. This wine was lighter bodied than the others, making it a great warm weather red and one of the favorites of the night (easily the first bottle we finished after tasting them all).
2016 Cartuxa Tino – $25 (DOC)
A blend of 40% Aragonez, 40% Alicante Bouschet, and 20% Trincadeira.
Deep, garnet red in the glass, with a hint of orange around the rim. On the nose I got ripe red fruit with a touch of cedarwood and dried herbs. In the mouth the wine was bright and vibrant, with flavors of blueberry, cassis, and a finish that lingers just a second to make sure it won’t be missed, but doesn’t over stay its welcome.
This was probably my second favorite of the evening, and one I’d revisit again.
2016 Esporao Reserva Red – $24 (SRP)
A blend of Aragonez, Trincadeira, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Alicante Bouschet.
A mostly opaque ruby red in color, I got aromas of berry and herbs in the very soft nose. In the mouth It was tart and jammy, with flavors of licorice and red berry. The finish on this wine lingered the longest, and other than the 2014 CARMIN probably cried out for food the most (conveniently we had steak tacos set out, which paired well).
I’ve gotten to try more Portuguese wine in the last year of so than I’d had previously, which has been nice since that’s where my dad’s side of the family comes from. Trying the various blends together, often with the exact same grapes just prepared in different measurements and in different ways, showed the skill of the winemakers in Portugal, and how small changes can have profound impacts on the wine.
The value and quality coming out of Portugal is definitely something to watch, and it’s a great way to find a new favorite that you can enjoy over and over again without having to break the bank. These wines are drinking well now, but I’d be interested to see what even a year of aging in a cellar (if you have the facilities and the patience…of which I have neither) would do to them.
If you’ve been hesitant to expand your European wine profile beyond France and Spain, heading just a little further west could turn up some real hidden gems.