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Palhete is the local name for a wine that is made in a farmer's style, by blending red and white grapes to create a low-alcohol wine to drink during the day. As founder Vasco Croft explains, there was no soda or beer back in medieval times, and water was not reliable, so the Palhete wines provided the only trustworthy hydration at the time. This particular blend is 80% Loureiro and 20% Vinhão. The 2019 is, in my opinion, the tastiest Palhete we've had since starting to carry the wine several vintages ago. The wine is very light in body, but with plenty of savory, crushed red berry character in the mid-palate. Drink with a light chill. -EL
A delightful and idyllic orange wine from Tiago Teles and Antonio Marques-da Cruz. 100% Vital - a rare local grape from the Serra de Montejunto near Lisbon, with two weeks of maceration on the skins, and aging for about a year in old barrels. From my little experience with Vital, there is a LOT of character, but it's not overwhelmingly fragrant on the nose. Along with subtle overtones of stone fruit and salt, there are lovely aromas of crushed skins. Delicate tannins, elegant, and food friendly. Well worth a try for fans of skin contact wines. -EL
Bairrada, with its cooler maritime climate, has a long history of producing fresh and distinctive sparkling wines of quality from the native grapes of the region. Filipa Pato admirably keeps the tradition alive with her delicious and unpretentious brut rosé made from a blend of Bairrada’s signature noble red variety Baga and the tangy high acid white grape, Bical. Spicy and zesty with notes of bright citrus and red berries, this is a great (and affordable!) pairing for baked fish with paprika and Iberian olive oil, smoked fish or a party with a variety of hors d'oeuvres...
What a treat! A Loureiro from northern Portugal, essentially in the Vinho Verde region, that is complex, mineral, and much like some of our favorite Muscadets. Relatively neutral on the nose, save for a hint of lemon pith and wet stone, the palate is fresh and chiseled. 3 days of gentle skin contact lend some weight and flesh to the mid-palate. The lime blossom and saline notes give way to more breadth as the wine opens up, likely thanks to the aging, which is done half in stainless steel, but also 25% in chestnut barrels and 25% in tinaja (local anfora). -EL
Humus is a winery from the Lisbon area, focused on producing wines from organic vineyards and with minimal intervention. This delicious Tinto is a blend of Touriga Nacional, Syrah, and Tinta Barocca. The style is perfect for every-day drinking, and a multitude of food pairings. Medium bodied, with some earth and nice acidity. -EL
A delightful, pale and lightly-hued rosé of Castelão from the Alentejo region in southern Portugal. Balanced acidity and body, with a subtle red fruit on the nose, and a long, mineral finish. -EL
This is a blend of Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz and Tinta Barroca, with a small percentage of Malvasia. Mateus Nicolau de Almeida is involved in many winemaking projects, from the Trans-Douro Express wines, to collaborations with other winemakers in Portugal. This special bottling was made in a friendly style, with label carrying on the tradition from the beloved 'Perfect Red' that Chris Brockway (Broc Cellars) produced last yet. It is a Tinto Perfeito in its own right, medium-full bodied, with some grip but overall very accessible.
Lúcia Freitas manages Quinta da Mariposa, located in Carregal do Sal in the Dao región of Portgal. The Dao is home to Portugal’s oldest varieties, Touriga Nacional and Tinta Roriz. Mariposa’s Tinto is a blend of both of these varieties and a little bit of Jaen (or, Mencia). It shows notes of wild strawberry, bramble, some brown spice and fresh herbs. JDC
A charming little white from the Lisboa region, clearly showcasing the salinity of the Atlantic, and the local grapes Arinto and Viosinho. -EL
Sidónio de Sousa's Reserva Tinto is a savory, medium to full-bodied expression of Baga, from clay-limestone soils in the Ancas-Bairrada. Pressing and fermentation happens in traditional small cement lagars, with aging for a year in large 4000L barrels, and a further two years in bottle before release. Pepper, black currant, oregano, and fresh earth abound. For a wine under $20, this traditional Baga over-delivers, providing the leather and cedar notes of a fine Bordeaux mixed with the finesse of Nebbiolo. Perhaps an old fashioned wine in style, this is no fault! A great value. -EL
Fernao Pires, Arinto, and 10-15% other regional grape varieties, from the Lisboa region. Medium weight, with a hint of rubber on the nose. Once it breathes, more of the salinity from the Fernao Pires and Arinto show up aromatically.
This is a special wine (not just because it's called "Especial!"), a solera that Pedro started in 2013 and has been adding to since then. A blend of mostly Arinto, Alvarinho, and Fernao Pires, with some skin contact. There's lovely structure in the mid-palate, with bright salinity, and slightly oxidative finish. A very cool wine. -EL
In the mountainous region of Ponte de Lima in northern Portugal, Miguel Viseu has teamed up with to Brits who fell in love with Portugal and were thoroughly impressed with his forward thinking, natural approach to winemaking and farming. This wine shows a side to Loureiro that I hadn't experienced to date. Dense, voluminous, still mineral at its core, but akin to one of the top Muscadets from Luneau Papin or Marc Olivier. Portugal still has a way to go in convincing the world that it has a wealth of high quality, fine wines that are well worth paying up for, but this Loureiro should definitely help in this effort. Easily the finest white I've had from the Vinho Verde region. By all means, the wines from Antonio Lopes Ribeiro (of Casa Mouraz) are also worth mentioning, but this one takes the cake. -EL
From the Viuva Gomes estate in Colares, this is a really impressive Castelão, truly an age-worthy wine and a treat for any fan of high-quality Portuguese reds. -EL