For those who associate Portuguese wine with Port alone, there is a whole world of fantastic and affordable wines from Portugal out there waiting to be discovered!
10th September 2016 saw a Portuguese wine master class conducted by Madhu of Portugal (http://madhuportugal.com/) in conjunction with Wi Not beverage solutions at the residence of the Ambassador of Portugal, New Delhi.
Madhu of Portugal, is an online platform which provides importers and distributors in India access to Portuguese wine. They represent 8 wineries, namely Anselmo Mendes, Borges, Cartuxa, Jose Maria da Fonseca, Monte Da Raposinha, Quinta Do Silval, Reguengo De Melgaco, and Sogrape.
Of these wineries three houses sent representatives to India for the master class. They were Reguengo de Melgaco, Cartuxa Winery, and Quinta do Silval.
The rest of the wines were presented by Magandeep Singh (of Wi Not Beverage Solutions), on behalf of Madhu of Portugal.
One very interesting fact to come out of this masterclass is that Portuguese wines often contain plenty of “Field Blends””
A Field Blend is when there is a mix of different grape varietals planted in the field. This may or may not be done on purpose, so even the wine maker himself may not know how much of a different grape varietal is present in the blend, although he will know the major grape varietals present.
After tasting the wines, I can strongly recommend the following wines from the portfolio that was presented.
For a hot day, try a cool glass of the Anthea Alvarinho, 2013 by the House of Reguengo de Melgaco. Made of a 100% Alvarinho grape (a white wine grape), this wine had pleasant aromas of stoned fruit such as white peach. Best paired with light vegetarian food such as a salad with light dressing and some cheese.
For an easy drinking red wine, go for the Cartuxa Tinto or the Tinto Reserva. This is an oaked red wine with smooth tannin, and a great medium bodied wine for easy drinking. Try with mutton seekh kebabs or if you are vegetarian, try with some very strongly flavoured/ spiced vegetarian food, but certainly not with any mild dish.
The next wine on the list that I liked was the Borges Dao Reserva Branco. This wine has clearly seen plenty of battonage and had a lot of fruit on the palate.
Of the wines presented by Jose Maria Da Fonseca, the ones I liked were the Jose de Sousa 2014, and the Hexagon branco- a white wine with a very long finish. The Jose de Sousa 2014 was a very powerful wine, good to keep in the cellar and age.
From Monte Da Raposinha, I personally liked the Furtiva Lagrima Tinto 2010 (red).
From Quinta Do Silva (Port wines), I absolutely loved the nose and the palate of the Dorna Velha Branco and the Magalhaes Vintage 2003. The latter has been fortified in brandy and has no oak, but the aromas are of sweet treacle and makes you think of Christmas pudding and mince pies.
Lastly, from Sogrape, I would recommend the Casa Ferreirinha Papa Figos Tinto 2014. It is a powerful sweet wine with a rich flavor profile on the palate.
These last two wines would be an excellent way to round of a dinner.
In conclusion, Portuguese wines are of good quality, and most definitely worth exploring. They will pair well with all manner of food, and are of better quality than many others at the same price point.