Portugal: The Land

Old Baga for $20? Yes please.
Portugal is a curious wine region.  Often it's thought of as a place for 'great value' wines...too often however, great value is confused for 'cheap'.  Yes, many of the best wines in Portugal are perhaps less expensive then their relative equivalents from say Spain or Italy, but as a whole most Portuguese wines are still made industrially, on a very large scale, with little attention to the farming or winemaking. 

It takes a long time for a wine region to change.  In most cases the status quo is difficult to overcome and frankly the producers don't often see a reason to change at all.   Many are happy the way things are, few are determined to find the new frontier and push forward; these pioneer's are the ones we're most interested in. 

Tonight we've decided to take a little bit of a different look at Portugal, not he most known regions such as the Dao or Douero, but rather places like the Minho valley and Bairas in the far north as well as the impossibly small region outside of Lisbon called Colares.  We have the rare chance to taste what the avant-gard producers are doing as well as old vintages (2000 & 2001) from staunch traditionalists carving a new niche out of the stalwart Portuguese wine landscape.  

These are exciting, and of course utterly affordable wines, join us!

The New Old Portugal Lineup: 

Muros Antigos, Loureiro, Vinho Verde $11
This is not the junky, carbonated supermarket version of the often industrially made Vinho Verde.  This wine has complexity in its simplicity, being made of 100% lourerio helps.  Fresh, dry and realer then most! 

Filipa Pato, Bical/Arinto Vinho Branco & Baga Tinto, Bairrada $16/18
Two wines from the sensational Filipa Pato, daughter of legendary Luis Pato, perhaps the first voice in natural wine in Portugal.  Today Filipa's wines are enjoying much success, mostly because they are great.  The white is bical and arinto, snappy fresh and dry.  The red is her most prized grape called baga.  Her wine region is heavily influenced by the Atlantic giving wines of freshness and delicacy in a world of savory, brooding wines (those are next!)

Adega Regional de Colares, Chao Rijo, Colares $15
Southwest of Lisbon on a tiny jut of land that runs right into the Atlantic Ocean is Portugal's smallest D.O.  Here the vines grow in deep pits dug meters into the sand. Reed fences are built around the vineyards to protect from the incessant wind and the wines are exotic, structured and extremely rare.  100% castelao.

2000 & 2001 Caves San Joao Gran Reserva & Frei Joao, Bairrada $18/20
So this doesn't happen every day...tasting wines over a decade old that are $20 and less, we're excited. Both of these wines are reserva's, aged at the winery and just released.  Each offers a unique look at what mature, aged, traditional wines can offer from Portugal.  Baga is the backbone of both, while the San Joao incorporates some Bordeaux varieties that add lots of depth to the wine...don't miss these!

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