Top Portuguese Red Wines

Go back in time with these Old World styled favorites

 


The wines of Portugal, and the red wines in particular, offer consumers a glimpse back in time.

Many of the wines are still made in a slightly rustic style with flavors that proudly display the earth, spice and savory tones that almost define Old World wines. Of course, with success and recognition comes inevitable change, and the Portuguese reds we see on our shores seem to indicate that we are in the midst of just that.
 
Whether that means more international varieties, increasing assertiveness of French oak, or sweet and fruity flavors, there is no doubt that Portuguese wines are as a whole adopting more of an international flair. I would generally argue that this is not a positive development for wine drinkers. We have enough international wines.

Holding on to something traditional should not be seen as something to frown upon. Of course, that tradition should not include traditional faults that have frequently been held up as expressions of style or site. I want Portuguese wines to be more than just the next blueberry shake.
 
Fortunately, there is something standing in the way of the complete conversion of the Portuguese wine industry: indigenous varieties!
 
Judging from this admittedly modest set of wines, there is something about the various Portuguese grapes that defies “progress.” Yes, many of the wines feel modern, but the flavor profiles are usually rooted firmly in the Old World. The only place where I see progress moving forward, or rather up, unabated is with pricing.

There are still many great values coming from Portugal, as well as a fair share of clunkers, but with prices moving up, are people going to take the risk to try these wines and discover what Portugal has to offer? I hope so. Here are some wines you should start with!

Douro Valley image via Shutterstock

2007 Quinta de la Rosa Red 14% $15

Tinta Roriz, Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca
 
This is fresh and precise in the mouth with dried herb and smoke notes accenting the core of plum, blackberry and blackcurrant fruit. Well put together with a slightly modern feel, but the flavors are firmly rooted in the Old World. Good now and will improve in the cellar. 91pts Read the Full Review
 
Acid: Medium-Medium
Tannin: Medium-Medium-Low
Perceived Sweetness: Low
Oak: Medium-Medium -Low
Spicy Flavors: Medium-Low
Savory Flavors: Medium
Fruity Flavors: Medium
Intensity of Flavors: Medium-High
Mouthfeel: Medium   

2006 Quinta d'Alem Vinho Regional Alentejano 14.5% $17

Touriga Nacional 60%, Syrah 40%        
 
This is lovely and rich with green olive- and peppercorn-accented red and black fruit, wrapped with nuanced herbal notes in a modern, integrated, smooth package. 91pts Read the Full Review
 
Acid: Medium-Medium
Tannin: Medium-Low
Perceived Sweetness: Medium-Low
Oak: Medium-Medium-Low
Spicy Flavors: Medium-Low
Savory Flavors: Medium-High
Fruity Flavors: Medium
Intensity of Flavors: Medium-High
Mouthfeel: Medium

2008 Esporao Reserva Tinto Alentejo Reserva 14.5% $24

Aragonez 45%, Trincadeira 40%, Cabernet Sauvignon 15%
 
This shows some dried cinnamon and licorice notes on the palate along with a bit of leather from the dry tannins, but the dark berry fruit keeps the upper hand from entry through the moderately long finish. A touch rustic perhaps but a lovely wine that shows off excellent intensity of flavor without much weight. 91pts Read the Full Review
 

Acid: Medium-Medium
Tannin:  Medium-Medium
Perceived Sweetness: Medium-Low
Oak: Low
Spicy Flavors:  Medium-Low
Savory Flavors: Low
Fruity Flavors: Medium-Low
Intensity of Flavors: Medium
Mouthfeel: Medium

2009 Esporao Vinha Vinha da Defesa Vinho Tinto Alentejano 14.5% $14

Touriga Nacional 50%, Syrah 50%

A rather rich, powerful and complex wine with vanilla, cedar, black olive and beef jerky notes complementing the blackberry fruit. 90pts Read the Full Review

Acid: Medium-Medium
Tannin: Medium-Low
Perceived Sweetness: Medium-Low
Oak: Medium-Low
Spicy Flavors: Medium-Low
Savory Flavors: Medium
Fruity Flavors: Medium
Intensity of Flavors: Medium-High
Mouthfeel: Medium

2009 Quinta Dos Murcas Assobio Douro 13.5% $13

Tinta Roriz 40%, Touriga Franca 40%, Touriga Nacional 20%
 
This is certainly an okay wine, both on the nose and on the palate, though the oak works to add a base for the slightly roasted strawberry/plum fruit and peppery finish. 89pts Read the Full Review
 
Acid: Medium-Medium
Tannin: Medium-Medium
Perceived Sweetness: Low
Oak: Medium-Medium
Spicy Flavors: Medium-Low
Savory Flavors: Low
Fruity Flavors: Medium-Low
Intensity of Flavors: Medium
Mouthfeel: Medium-Low

2008 Cabriz Colheita Seleccionada Tinto Dao 13% $10

Alfrocheiro, Tinto Roriz, Touriga Nacional
 
A bit oaky with drying tannins, this retains a lovely texture and exhibits light peppery notes. Hints of chocolate and licorice add complexity to the blueberry fruit. 87pts Read the Full Review
 
Acid: Medium-Medium
Tannin: Medium-Medium
Perceived Sweetness: Low
Oak: Medium-Medium
Spicy Flavors: Medium-Low
Savory Flavors: Medium
Fruity Flavors: Medium-Low
Intensity of Flavors: Medium
Mouthfeel: Medium

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Slideshow View

Top Portuguese Reds

1.
Quinta de la Rosa Red Blend Douro (2007)
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2.
Alem Syrah/Touriga Nacional Vinho Regional Alentejano (2006)
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3.
Esporao Vinha Vinha da Defesa Vinho Tinto Alentejano (2009)
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4.
Murcas Douro Rosa Assobio (2009)
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5.
Casal Branco Sociedade de Vinhos Sa Quinta Do Casal Branco Vinho Tinto Ribatejo (2007)
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6.
Rio Real Reserva Vinho Regional Lisboa (2008)
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7.
Quinta da Cortezia Vinho Regional Estremadura Vinha Conchas (2008)
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8.
Quinta Do Encontro Vinho Tinto Bairrada (2008)
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9.
Alentejo Vinho Tinto Pimenta (2007)
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10.
Herdade Do Esporao Monte Velho Red Alentejo (2010)
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Comments

  • No Quinta de Vallado? The Reserva is amazing but the table wine is an amazing value!

    Oct 25, 2012 at 2:48 PM


  • Snooth User: Saffredi
    729598 151

    Correction: The 2008 Esporao Reserva tinto is a blend of 30% Aragones (Tempranillo), 30% Trincadeira, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Alicante Bouschet. The vines have an average age of 16+ years. Maturation: 12 months 'sur lie' in French (30%) and American (70%) oak. Yield: 40 hectoliters per hectare.

    Oct 26, 2012 at 3:50 AM


  • Hey, on the 10th page (2008 Quinta da Cortezia Vinha Conchas Estremadura) there is a label of a white wine (vinho branco). I'm fine with it, but then the title of the review should be not just about Portuguese reds! :-)

    Oct 26, 2012 at 4:16 AM


  • Well said about indigenous varieties.
    I well remember the Esporao (branco as well as tinto) wines from holidaying in Madeira. Very complex aromatic white, chocolatey and interesting red, graet food wines.
    Dao quinta de Cabriz and Monte Velho are good regular wines, Dao and Bairradas can be really good when they should be too old - that is, if you see one covered in dust somewhere on the top shelf or in a sale. The falvours can intensify as you work down the bottle - or perhaps we could not say decanter in portuguese!

    Oct 26, 2012 at 4:43 AM


  • I am not surprised that the Monte Velho came in at 83 points, last in the review. I have had it, and I concur with this rating. Another good Alentejo red is the Montaria.

    Oct 27, 2012 at 1:14 PM


  • There is a feature of Portuguese wines that I have noticed in the past, that they usually taste much better in Portugal. I dont know why this is, but I have had some poor examples of what are good wines in Portugal. Bucelas vino Branco springs to mind.
    There is possibility too that Portugues tendency to brand names, like Monte Velho, tends to overwhelm other more specific info like the age, whether it was a basic or a garrafeira wine, etc, that leads to the whole brand being overrated or underrated

    Oct 29, 2012 at 12:29 PM


  • Snooth User: Carla Sofia
    1153991 49

    I also like Porca de Murca from the Douro and EA (Eugenio de Almeida) from the Alentejo region

    Oct 29, 2012 at 2:21 PM


  • the best red 2013 is Portuguese check http://www.concoursmondial.com/en/l...

    May 28, 2013 at 12:14 PM


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