Wednesday Wines – Episode 113 – Unmissable ‘Portuguese Holiday Wines’
Episode 113 – On Holiday in Portugal – The Finest Wines
15th June 2022
Thousands of Brits head off to Portugal every summer, and I popped down for a couple of days earlier this month and raided the supermarkets to determine the finest wines to drink this year. The two leading supermarkets I visited were Pingo Doce and Continente.
Of the fifty or so wines I bought, here are the finest. It is worth noting that all whites are fresh, young 2021s – any 2020s I picked were already tiring on the nose and palate regardless of style. All the reds were 2019s (a terrific vintage), and three of my four come from the top-class Douro winery Casa Ferreirinha. While several other reds came close, this quartet shone for the reasons noted below. I wouldn’t recommend straying too far from this bunch unless you visit wineries and taste before you buy or decide to investigate independent wine shops where you will inevitably pay more for your bottles.
Also, this month top-flight wine scribe Sarah Ahmed and Bar Douro Supremo Max Graham are hosting a fantastic Portuguese wine event, ‘London’s landmark Portuguese wine festival: FESTA by Bar Douro, 24th & 25th June’. Here is a link to tell you more – I am sure this will be an exceptional initiative, so please support these lovely people and discover all there is to know about Portugal and Portuguese wines.
2021 Pingo Doce, Vinho Verde, Loureiro, Carlos Teixeira €2.19
I holidayed with an Aussie winemaker who pointed out that the bottle, label, cork and capsule cost €2, so transport, the wine itself and the margin, presumably, are nil! This is a simple but mouth-wateringly delicious and pinpoint accurate VV. It is the cheapest and most rewarding white wine I have tasted this year (and nothing else will come close).
2021 Vinho Verde, Loureiro, Lima €4.29
This is the price at which serious wine kicks off, and this sub-regional beauty is raspy, authentic, finely judged and foodie. It is the cheapest, ‘wine-expert-style’ white wine of the wines I tasted and I could happily have stuck on this throughout.
2021 Aveleda, Fonte Vinho Verde €4.49
Smoother, more floral and a little more obviously citrusy and modern, this is a desperately easy wine to quaff, and it has a more international feel about it with flair and charisma on the nose and palate.
2021 Lagarto Pintado, Colheita Selecionada, Vinho Verde €5.99
This was the wine we bought the most (we cleared the shelves at Pingo Doce), and it ticked all the boxes. Authentic flavour, modern polished winemaking, quirky label, aperitif-shaped but with enough length and complexity to handle a summery lunch menu.
2021 Esporão Monte Velho Branco Biológico, Regenguos, Alentejo €7.50
Without a doubt, the finest white at any price (we tasted wines up to €20). This is a triumphant, organic white wine; the only flaw was the wrinkly labels after they had been dunked in the ice bucket! This is a wine that would enchant even the sternest of critics with its heavenly perfume and top-class palate.
2019 Esteva, Casa Ferreirinha, Douro €4.99
Esteva Tinto, is the easy-drinking, entry-level red in the Casa Ferreirinha firmament. It’s a blend of Tinta Roriz, Tinta Barocca, Touriga Franca and Touriga Nacional fermented and aged in stainless steel. It is shaped like a Beaujolais and flavoured like a summer pudding with a sprinkle of spice. It is £10 in the UK and only €4.99 in Portugal, and it is, by a very long way, the finest glugger on the shelves.
2019 Vinha Grande, Casa Ferreirinha, Douro €9.99
There were no worthy wines between Esteva and this magnificent VG.
Ferreirinha is a large company with amazing distribution and an impressive portfolio, so it is the go-to winery in supermarkets for red wines. 2019 VG is sublime – claret-shaped, Douro-flavoured, with so much class and breeding it is amazing. Decant it if you can! This is a stunner.
2019 Fitapreta, Antonio Maçanita, Alentejo €11.89
Made from Aragonez, Alicante Bouschet and Trincadeira and subjected to ‘neutral ageing’, it shows none of the grubby oak found in many of the lesser Alentejo red wines, Fitapreta is a modern, glossy, black fruit and liquorice concoction with serious glossiness and depth. It has an awful lot of flavour and texture, and fans of ripe, velvety, plush reds will adore this wine. In global terms, this price is a snip for a wine of this quality, given it is £16 in the UK.
2019 Callabriga, Casa Ferreirinha, Douro €18.49
Top of the pile and, perhaps, a little pricey for a holiday wine, I bought this because I was keen to find one more amazing red, and the vast majority of the candidates on the shelves lacked freshness, labouring under raw oak notes or too much sweetness. I have been ultra-selective here, as you would expect, so these are all wines with silver and gold scores, and so if you want to push the boat out while staying under €20, this is the wine. The grapes for Callabriga are sourced from selected vineyards on the Quinta da Leda estate (see my Episode 97 – 2011 Barca-Velha, Casa Ferreirinha, article on 16th February 2022). Made from Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional and Tinta Roriz, the grapes are gently crushed and then macerated and fermented in stainless steel tanks and lagars. It is then matured in French and American oak barrels for 18 months. This is your affordable Grand Cru red for Summer 2022!