Category Archives: Portugal

A couple of “Goes down well” wines

I once had a South African wine, I cannot remember which one, several years ago that I enjoyed quite a bit for its ease of drinking. It was smooth and uncomplicated, just a good quaffable wine. The back label stated as a summary of the usual wine descriptors: “Goes down well!” I absolutely LOVED that term and have adopted it since for fun, easy drinking wines.

I have decided to use that “label” for a couple of wines that we have been drinking over the last weeks and for which I did not take any notes because they were basic wines accompanying food or just had while watching TV. I still thought some of you might be interested in these rather affordable, decent wines which is why I am sharing them here. (Ignore my bad photos, I still have not come up with a way to replace Instagram…)

2008 Quinta da Alorna Vinho Tinto

2008 Quinta da Alorna Vinho Tinto

First up is the 2008 Quinta da Alorna Vinho Tinto, a Portuguese red blend comprised of the grapes Tinta Roriz, Castelao, Syrah and Alicante Boschet (YAY, two more grapes to tick off the Wine Century Club application).The wine is from the Tejo region in Portugal and has an agreeable 13.5% ABV. It was a bit heavy at first, but then opened up to a nicely herbal and soothing red, full bodied and well integrated tannins. Not much primary fruit going on, but just what I’d expect from a Portuguese red. Great for a winter evening. I have yet to be really let down by a Portuguese red. Bought for $11.

2010 Famille Perrin Cotes du Rhone Reserve

2010 Famille Perrin Cotes du Rhone Reserve

Next up the 2010 Famille Perrin Côtes du Rhône Réserve, a French red blend from the well renown Perrin & Fils winery. A blend crafted from wines all over the region, it has 13.5% ABV and garnered some praise in the wine world for whatever that is worth. According to The Wine Advocate the wine is made with Grenache and Syrah grapes from Perrin estates and contracted wineries. I really enjoyed this wine. It was light and simple without being dull, very fruit forward and accompanied our mushroom ragout with mashed potatoes and goat cheese very well. I can see this work on its own as well. It reminded Nina of summer, what a great compliment for a wine. Bought for $10.

2010 Louis Bernard Cotes du Rhone

2010 Louis Bernard Cotes du Rhone

The best value by far was the 2010 Louis Bernard Côtes du Rhône, another French red blend from Southern France. Another big producer, another goes down well wine. It is made with Grenache and Syrah grapes, with Syrah being the dominant grape in the mix. The wine also has 13.5% ABV (if you see a pattern there, you are right: I prefer lower alcohol reds). The wine is very fruit forward, great red berries and currant. On the palate it is nicely smooth, has low tannins and is super user friendly. It might be a bit too sweet, but that really is just a bit for me. Bought for $ 6 (there is currently a manufacturer mail in rebate possible that brings it down to $4 per bottle!).

I hope you find this helpful. Nothing impressive, but rock solid, good everyday wines.

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2010 Caiu a Noite Vinho Verde and 2011 King Estate Acrobat Pinot Gris

2010 Caiu a Noite and 2011 Acrobat Oregon Pinot Gris

2010 Caiu a Noite and 2011 Acrobat Oregon Pinot Gris

We were invited for at dinner party on our last Saturday evening in Alaska before flying back to Ann Arbor. The hosts had told us to bring wine and sent us a menu for dinner: broccoli, roasted lemon-herb chicken, mashed lentils with caramelized onions and balsamic vinegar. In my opinion, this dinner was screaming out for white wines. I guess a Côtes du Rhône would have worked fine as well, but with the lemon chicken I just felt safer with whites.

We headed over to the liquor store and I was thinking something along the lines of a Burgundy chardonnay. We kept checking the pretty decent wine selection when Nina had the idea to bring a vinho verde to start with. We couldn’t see any, so we asked the lady in the store who promptly sent us to the Chile wine section because Portugal was somewhere in South America…ah, well. I finally spotted a vinho verde, the 2010 Caiu a Noite. I had never seen that wine before, but it was $6.99 and since a bottle of vinho verde has yet to disappoint me, we picked it up.

With some uneasiness and the very limited selection of Burgundy whites I was convinced by Nina that we might want to look into pinot gris. I complained that I am not the person who brings pinot gris to a dinner party (I am not the fondest supporter of that grape). I saw some Oregon pinot gris and I decided that that might be a route to take. I have never had Oregon pinot gris before, so it was an experiment. The 2011 King Estate Acrobat seemed about right, and cost around $10.

Both wines turned out to be very good (as did dinner!). The 2010 Caiu a Noite Vinho Verde still had some bubbling going on, which I did not expect given that it is a 2010 vintage and vinho verde is usually meant to be drunk young. It had a great nose of fresh apple and citrus and in the glass showed these same apple aromas, a very slight sweetness backed up by a nice acidity. It was a really good vinho verde, probably one of the best I have had (better than the Trader Joe’s Vinho Verde Espiral, I think, because it was more rounded and less wild). I highly recommend this wine if you get a chance to try it.

The 2011 King Estate Acrobat Oregon Pinot Gris poured in a very light yellow color. The nose was a bit perfumy, but somewhat subdued. Not very expressive at first. On the palate the wine was beautiful. It had a nice body to it, was dry and showed some interesting fruit aromas of pear and apple. It had a nice length to it and was just incredibly smooth and wonderful to drink. I enjoyed it tremendously, and I loved that there are always wines out to positively surprise me. It also paired well with dinner. I have to try more Oregon wines, from what I hear this is a wine region that is producing wines that I will like. I am very excited about that prospect.

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Trader Joe’s Espiral Vinho Rosé

Espiral Vinho verde’s blush sibling

I know, I know, summer is over. It really is. It is dreary out there, raining and cold. But I found this rosé or blush wine two weeks ago at Trader Joe’s (yeah, right, why do they only start carrying this one now, when it gets colder?) and had to give it a try.

I am huge fan of its sibling Espiral Vinho verde, so it seemed natural to give this one a try. Just as the vinho verde, vinho rosé is meant to be a young, fresh, slightly bubbly drink, uncomplicated and fun. For more info on these young wines from Portugal check out my vinho verde post mentioned above.

This non-vintage wine has 10% ABV and I paid about $5 for it at Trader Joe’s.

The color is intriguing, a rather bright, slightly darker pinkish red. On the nose, I immediately got bubble gum, then strawberry and melons. Except for the bubble gum, it smelled like fun. On the palate, there was lots of strawberry, a certain creaminess to the wine, and it had a nicely lively acidity. It had some hints of bubbles, but had clearly settled, and at some point the wine reminded me of the Espiral vinho verde with its pear and apple notes. It was definitely a nice, easy to drink wine and I am looking forward to having more of it next summer…because, while it brought back memories of summer, it was definitely not a season appropriate rosé (which in fact exist!).

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