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Portugal’s wines are great value

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When I think of Portugal my mind goes straight to port, but in this summer weather some of their table wines are very pleasant, inexpensive and easy to enjoy.

For instance Casal de Ventozela is a family business created in 1983 and dedicated to producing vinho verde wine. Their 99 acres of vineyards are situated in the subregion Vale do Ave, in the heart of the Portuguese Vinho Verde region. They are spread over various estates and land plots, across gentle slopes and granitic soils and the plots are planted with varieties indigenous to the region. The climate is influenced by the sea breeze coming from the Atlantic Ocean and the wines produced are pleasantly light and fresh.

In 2017, Ventozela obtained the certification of “integrated production” for their vineyards and wines. Integrated production refers to a sustainable farming system that produces high-quality food and other products by using natural resources and regulating mechanisms to replace polluting inputs. Emphasis is placed on a systems approach involving the entire vineyard as the basic unit, on the central role of agro-ecosystems, on balanced nutrient cycles and on the welfare of all species in animal husbandry. The preservation and improvement of soil fertility and of a diversified environment are essential.

No chemicals are used by Ventozela. Everything is hand-harvested, by a team of about 30 people, usually starting around September 20. The wines are vegan, fined with bentonite. Remember that vegan folks avoid wines that are clarified by traditional egg yolks or gelatin.

Casal de Ventozela Vinho Verde 2018 rosé is 100 per cent espadeiro, a traditional grape variety native to the Vinho Verde region. Always the last one to be harvested (usually the first week of November), it has a tough skin and needs specific and time-intensive pruning to ripen. Combined with the fact that it takes six years to choose the right clone for espadeiro, this is an expensive grape to grow. Pale pink colour. Very fresh and fruity with hints of raspberries and wild strawberries. Well balanced between the vibrant fruit and mineral notes, persistent finish. Great as an aperitif or with light dishes. Stock #6382 will cost you only $17.45.

Casal de Ventozela Vinho Verde 2018 blends 60 per cent loureiro, 20 per cent arinto and 20 per cent trajadura, all grape varieties native to the Vinho Verde region and hand-harvested. The wine is then aged in stainless-steel tanks for a minimum of three months. Intense floral aromas. Fresh and crisp white wine with a long finish that is slightly “pétillant”, which is a term meaning effervescent. Stock #6381 and also $17.45.

During a conversation with someone who used to work with Majestic, one of the largest chains of wine stores in the UK with about 1,000 outlets, I was told that Porta 6 became an instant bestseller. Their site actually says, “Truth be told when we launched it, it sold out in three hours and actually broke our website.” Maybe you can take down www.wineonline.bm? Another blurb reads, “Porta 6 is a wine from the Lisbon region, produced by Caves Vidigal and made from tinta roriz, castelão and touriga nacional grapes. Known as the Portuguese wine that has ‘crashed' a UK sales site due to the exhausting demand provoked by a BBC television show, this wine is characterised by being round, with a balanced acidity and silky tannins.”

Give us a modest $15.85 and we will give you stock #8781 Porta 6 Red. Well-known critic Jancis Robinson commented on this wine: “The quality on the palate really is impressive, bursting with ripe fruit.”

If you can find another $1.25 then pink up $17.10 and splurge on a bottle of #8784 Porta 6 2017 Reserva with its dark-ruby colour, intense aromas of wild and black fruits, spices and a light touch of chocolate. The classic syrah, cabernet sauvignon and touriga nacional team up for this effort.

When Bruno Prats, the former owner of Château Cos d'Estournel one of the great classified wines of Bordeaux, teams up with the Symington family of Portugal, owners of Grahams Port House, you can expect excellence. We have it with their “second wine”, 2017 Post Scriptum de Chryseia (P+S, get it?), that is a partner to their top Chryseia, drawn from the same vineyards. Its profile is similar, with expressive, fresh and concentrated fruit married to exquisite balance and elegance. Lighter oaked, it is ready to enjoy at a younger age. It is a blend of 51 per cent touriga franca and 49 per cent touriga nacional. Wine Enthusiast awards it 92/100 and writes, “The wine is structured, rich while also elegant. Spices and tannins combine with acidity to produce a powerful wine, solid with black fruits.” Stock #9200. $34.35. (I have just been told that we unloaded the 2018 this week and so you may see this 58 per cent touriga nacional, 39 per cent touriga franca and 3 per cent tinta roriz blend on the shelf.)

Chryseia has been one of the pioneers of the now widely-recognised resurgence of non-fortified Douro DOC wines. However, this wine, whose name means “golden” in ancient Greek — as does the name of the river in Portuguese — has remained true to its own style. Elegance and balance predominate and it has depth without heaviness, and body without sharpness. Chryseia symbolises the union of a noble Portuguese tradition and an equally rich Bordeaux tradition in the creation of a new and modern style of wine. Chryseia was first launched with the 2000 vintage.

Prats & Symington Chryseia Douro 2014 has the rare honour of being included on the Wine Spectator top 100 wines in the world for 2017; in 2014 an earlier vintage took third place overall! For the 2014 vintage that we have, the magazine said this: “A powerful and concentrated red, featuring kirsch, red plum and baker's chocolate notes, balanced by tarragon, slate and violet details. Elegant, with supple tannins framing the long finish, which is laced with hot stone, olive and liquorice accents. Drink now through 2023.” Stock #7784. $84.80. (The 2014 should be on display but, if you are interested, the 2016 arrived this week and Wine Enthusiast rates it 95/100.)

We have a lovely range from every day to the amazing — truly many choices for you.

This column is an advertorial for Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. E-mail mrobinson@bll.bm or 295-0176. Burrows Lightbourn has stores in Hamilton (Front Street East, 295-1554), Paget (Harbour Road, 236-0355) and St George (York Street, 297-0409). Visit www.wineonline.bm

Perfect spot: head to Burrows Lightbourn for wine from Portugal's Vinho Verde region

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Published July 17, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated July 17, 2020 at 2:46 pm)

Portugal’s wines are great value

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