Wednesday Wines – Episode 215 – The Definitive Portuguese Summer Collection

Regular readers will know that I often head to Portugal in May to recharge the batteries, but I can’t seem to leave the day job behind, so I am always on the hunt for great wines.  Believe it or not, this article is one of the most read each year on matthewjukes.com.  This is because so many people (with great taste!) go on holiday to Portugal each year.  The wines below can be bought from supermarkets, wineries and cash & carry operations, and they represent the elite picks from tasting a massive number of often rather dull wines.  While the average bottle on the shelves in Portugal, like in the rest of the world, is not disastrous these days, we all deserve better, particularly those of you who are Friends & Members of this website.  I purchased a few wines at discounted pricing, and these are mentioned below; I am not privy to the schedule of discounts in advance like I am in the UK, so I cannot guarantee that these slashed prices will coincide with your trip.  Still, it might be worth ordering in advance, so take advantage of deep price cuts.  So read on for a collection of utterly stunning wines that start from just a few euros!  I assure you that you will have a happy holiday with these wines in your glass this year!

White

Aveleda VV 2023

2023 Aveleda, Fonte, Vinho Verde (€4.99, reduced to €3.49 on occasional offer, Pingo Doce; €3.49, Continente).  A benchmark VV, with a rock-bottom price and a thrillingly refreshing palate.  This is a light, lemony, zingy wine that soars above any other white cheapie this year.

Lima 2023

2023 Ponte de Lima, Lima Loureiro, Vinho Verde (€4.29, Continente).  If I were served this wine blind, I would place this flavour at a tenner, not sub-four-quid.  It is stunning.  Bracingly dry, detailed, elegant and seriously high quality do not miss this incredible Loureiro.

Papa Figos Branco 2023

2023 Papa Figos, Vinho Branco, Casa Ferreirinha, Douro (€5.99, Continente).  This is the first Papa Figos white that has passed muster with me, and it feels like a layered, ozone-soaked Muscadet in both shape and size.  This is a stunning wine with gastronomic skills and a superbly long finish.  It is also the first of many Casa Ferreirinha wines in this list – and this is no surprise because this outfit is number one in the country when it comes to the depth and quality of its portfolio.

Soalheiro Allo 23

2023 Soalheiro, Allo, Loureiro/Alvarinho, Minho (€6.32, www.marvanejo.pt).

Climbing up the Vinho Verde ladder, you will find the very finest example from Soalheiro – Primeiras Vinhas (below).  But this elite winery also makes a cheery glugger with a stunning price.  So, this is my favourite ‘second wine’ this year!  It is not a main course wine but a racy aperitif style and it shows the typical gloss and style found in every wine from the great Soalheiro estate!

Soalheiro PV 22

2022 Soalheiro, Primeiras Vinhas Alvarinho, Monção e Melgaço, Vinho Verde (€17.59, Continente; €15.58, www.marvanejo.pt).  Made from older vines and with a level of sophistication that belies its price, this is Portugal’s equivalent of a serious Premier Cru Chablis, and I love it.  The fruit quality and complexity are otherworldly, and with a year under its belt it is at the peak of its powers.

Teixinha 2021

2021 Teixinha, Field Blend, Herdade da Malhadinha Nova, Alentejo (€19.21, www.marvanejo.pt).  This is not an aperitif wine, but a highly complex, ‘Michelin-star’ style white from the awesome, high-altitude vineyards of Portalegre.  Made by the incredible team at Malhadinha Nova, this complex blend is jaw-dropping in every department.  I first found this wine in the UK at the annual Portuguese Tasting and immediately ordered 24 bottles to enjoy this summer via the winery in Portugal, whose website sent me to the phenomenal cash & carry Marvanejo – this place is a goldmine, assuming you order by the case.  Marvanejo also owns a vineyard called Herdade da Amada, in Elvas, and I will write these wines up in another article, very soon!

Rosé

Sonhador Rosé 2023

2023 Howard’s Folly, Sonhador Rosé, Alentejo (€84 for 6 bottles, reduced to €67.20 for wine club members, www.howardsfollywine.com)

There is a Portuguese and English website connected to Howard’s Folly, so be sure to navigate accurately and sign up to the wine club as the deal is fabulous, and this reduced all purchases thereafter.  This is my favourite rosé of the season and when I drove over to the winery to pick up my order, I managed to taste all the current releases, so here is a bonus collection from Howard’s Folly.  This ought to mean you can place a big order to cover all eventualities!

Howards Folly Collection

2023 Howard’s Folly, Alvarinho, Melgaço (€84 for 6 bottles, reduced to €67.20 for wine club members) is a delicious, bright, salty and luxurious style of Alvarinho; richer, more exotic and layered than those in the white section above.  It is a small price to pay for a beautiful wine.  2022 Sonhador Branco (€84 for 6 bottles, reduced to €67.20 for wine club members) and all the others in this section come from beautiful vineyards in Portalegre, in the Alentejo.  Sonhador White is a smooth, sultry and magnetic white made from 80–120-year-old vines, and it is a heavenly main course choice for a vast range of cuisines.  The next white is 2022 Três Ânforas Branco (€126 for 6 bottles, reduced to €100.80 for wine club members), and this time, there is tension, pithiness and grip, which comes from the amphoras!  Etna-like, textural and herbal and toothsome, there is a crunchy, orange blossom and fig note here that is simply sensational.  The first of the reds is 2022 Freshco? (€72 for 6 bottles, reduced to €57.60 for wine club members).  I have never understood this chillable red wine until this tremendous 2022 vintage.  It is sensational with amazing brightness and lightness.  It reminds me of a spankingly fresh Juliénas, with spicy, bright, ripe and clean fruit!  Get your ice bucket ready for this red wine.  2021 Três Ânforas Tinto (€126 for 6 bottles, reduced to €100.80 for wine club members) takes the amphora recipe and builds and brutal, challenging, lip-smacking flavour that balances modern fruit and ancient techniques with genuine style.  Finally, 2020 Sonhador Tinto (€84 for 6 bottles, reduced to €67.20 for wine club members) is the red sibling to the white and rosé above.  This is the finest Sonhador Tinto release yet with terrific, bright, clean red fruit with a silky mid-palate and a smooth finish.  While Freshco? is Beaujolais-shaped, this wine’s silhouette is akin to a modern, feisty Portuguese ‘Côtes-du-Rhône’!

Red

Papa Figos 2022

2022 Papa Figos, Vinho Tinto, Casa Ferreirinha, Douro (€7.99, Continente, Pingo Doce; €6.95, www.marvanejo.pt).  Always a winner and, in 2022, polished to gleaming tenderness and revitalising freshness, this is your ‘house red’ and it can be drunk cold, cool or regular temperature to great effect!  Watch out for deals!

Vinha Grande 2022

2020 Vinha Grande, Casa Ferreirinha, Douro (€10.99, Continente, Pingo Doce).  I found the 2018, 2019, and this epic 2020 on the shelf, and they are all stunning.  Bordeaux-shaped and proud, this is a gold-plated winner.  Here is an excerpt from one of my MoneyWeek earlier about this 2020 – ‘The Vinha Grande label represents the top of the ‘everyday wines’ range at Ferreirinha.  Under this label, the white, rosé and red are made with the same exacting standards as the icon wine Barca-Velha and by the same winemaker, Luís Sottomayor. I think it is the finest ever released under this label.  Made from a heady blend of 40% Touriga Franca, 30% Touriga Nacional, 25% Tinta Roriz and 5% Tinta Barroca, and spending 12 months in French oak and weighing in at 14.5% alcohol, this is a serious wine! In terms of its shape and size, it is richer than most clarets, similar to a Rioja, Super-Tuscan or Ribera del Duero, but so much more polished and detailed on the palate than any sixteen quid wine I can think of (this is the UK retail price).  Load up now – you will be in orbit when you taste this wine.’

Pedra a Pedra Clarete 2022

2022 Quinta da Pedra Alta, Pedra a Pedra, Clarete, Douro (€10.00, www.qpa.pt).

The 2021 is still showing on the website (and I haven’t tasted this vintage), but I managed to order the 2022, and I am sure you will be able, too.  I mentioned the Teixinha white (above) was my favourite white wine from the annual Portuguese Tasting in London, earlier this year, and this was my favourite red.  Again, I ordered this wine from the UK and arranged for it to be delivered to my Portuguese address.  It is a spectacular red wine with an extremely pale hue that makes it more of a dark rosé than a light red, hence the name Clarete.  Plummy, brittle, teasing and herbal, it tastes as delicious cool as it does at normal temperature and as far as red wine styles are concerned, it is unique.  I absolutely love it.

Quinta da Leda 2020

2020 Quinta da Leda, Casa Ferreirinha, Douro (€49.99 reduced to €37.49 on special offer, Continente; €43.56, www.marvanejo.pt).  Here is a copy of my Wednesday Wines note (and sky-high score) on this wine from late last year, ‘This is a stunningly serious wine with extraordinary class and detail.  I wrote ‘utterly gobsmacking’ in my notebook – not words I often use.  There is phenomenal balance, a stunning mid-palate, and epic length here, and this makes 2020 Leda the finest value £50 red wine on earth, not least if you want to drink a bottle now or in 30 years!   19+/20

FIN