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6 of the Best Red Wines From Portugal

The red wines of Portugal are a melange of relatively unfamiliar grapes, often joined together in blends that distinguish the country from so many other wine regions where single-varietal wines dominate.

In this sense, Portuguese reds are like the white wines (which I wrote about in my last column) and the country’s namesake and famous Ports, both of which are also typically blended.

You can also find a range of styles in Portuguese reds, including lighter, lower-alcohol expressions (including a spectacular example on the list below); powerful, concentrated wines that almost demand meat; and elegant, medium-bodied examples like one that reminded me of an aged Bordeaux.

Red wines are produced in all of Portugal’s 14 wine regions, including Vinho Verde in the north, which is almost synonymous with white wines. But Douro, Dão, and the broad Lisboa regional denomination account for many of the reds you’ll find in this country.

Touriga Nacional and Tinta Roriz are among the leading grapes, the latter more commonly known as Tempranillo in Spain and elsewhere. But there are many others that make their way into the blends or are bottled as single-varietal wines, including an exquisite example of the Castelão grape in the list below.

The blending tradition has its roots in field blends that were based on myriad grape varieties grown together in the same plots and then fermented and aged together. Some of the wines are still labeled as such.

After a broad sampling of the red wines, I was struck by the value and quality at all levels, from an irresistible $11 bargain to a $59 gem that could easily be favored in a blind tasting over many comparably priced wines from more well-known regions.

And yet, Portuguese wines are often still relegated to the far reaches of wine store shelves. That, combined with the often vague and unfamiliar language of the labels, can make them challenging. But as you’ll discover with the wines below and others, they are well worth seeking out.

Here are six red wines from Portugal to try:

Quinta de Chocapalha Castelão Lisboa 2020

From the coastal Lisboa wine region, which is the largest in Portugal and takes its name from Lisbon, the capital, this wine is made with the widely planted Castelão grape. It offers concentrated blackberry and blueberry notes with a fascinating undercurrent of garrigue, especially rosemary and thyme, and a long, satisfying finish. I tasted the 2020 vintage, but the 2017 seems to be the one most available.

Price: $16
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Quinta do Infantado Douro Tinto Green Label 2017

Think of a Bordeaux with some age — supple with still vibrant fruit, tannins subsided, oak seamlessly integrated — and you’ll get a sense of this impressive Douro blend. It comes from a family-run winery that has been operating since 1816 and mainly produces Port. The wine is a blend of Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo) and Touriga Nacional grown organically. Cassis and blackberry notes, touches of cedar and cinnamon, and vibrant acidity add up to a spectacular wine.

Price: $23
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Broadbent Douro Reserve 2019

If you like dense California reds with a good deal of oak, this Douro bottled by Broadbent, a leading producer of Port and other Portuguese wines, is a great stand-in for a mid-level Cabernet Sauvignon. A blend of Tinta Roriz, Tinta Barroca, Touriga Franca, and Touriga Nacional, this wine offers notes of blueberry compote and baking spices, supported by a solid tannic structure.

Price: $22
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Quinta da Boavista Dão Vinho Tinto ‘Rufia’ 2021

At just 11.5 percent ABV, this light, fruity blend of Mencia (or Jaen), Tinta Pinheira (Rufete), and Touriga Nacional from the Dão is an explosion of mixed berries on the nose and palate. Grapey and easy to drink, it takes a nice chill and is a phenomenal summer red. You’ll find it hard not to go for another glass.

Price: $25
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Jackpot The Lisboa Blend 2021

You would be hard pressed to find a better-value $11 red wine for everyday drinking: Jackpot is, in fact, like hitting the wine jackpot. From the Lisboa region, it’s a blend of Castelão and Aragonez (another name for Tempranillo) grown organically, with soft tannins and lively acidity framing notes of cassis, cinnamon, clove, and tobacco. It’s delicious and effortless to drink.

Price: $11
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Quinta da Côrte Douro Grande Reserva 2016

Though it doesn’t say so on the label, this is a “grande reserva” bottling from a well-known Port producer and is another stunning example of how Douro reds can be made for aging. At 8 years old, the blend of 70 percent Touriga Franca and 30 percent Touriga Nacional still has years ahead of it. It’s big but incredibly elegant, still fresh and beautifully balanced with aromas and flavors of sweet dark-berry fruit, violets, and baking spices, all of it framed by supple tannins.

Price: $59
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Next up: The Wines of Italy’s Umbria

The article 6 of the Best Red Wines From Portugal appeared first on VinePair.

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