Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Portugal: Beautiful Wine, Beautiful Women, Beautiful Owls (Altano)

As anyone who regularly follows my blog, or even someone seeing it for the first time and sees the quality links on the side, may notice, nice to awesome wines out number the decent to crap wines by about 5:1.  It's not that I am incredibly lucky when it comes to buying wine, although for the hundreds of bottles of wine I have bought over the past few years I have yet to come across a single corked wine which is incredibly lucky given that roughly 1 in every 50 bottle sealed with a cork is corked.  I drink more wine than I post.  I figure there aren't too many people interested in reading about decent or crappy wine, it doesn't really help you pick one at the store.

I will admit that most wine that I drink is somewhere in the nice to awesome range but this is no accident.  Most wine on the market, no matter how cheap, should be nice or else it shouldn't sell - unless it's dirt cheap and has a loyal following of hobos.  The real reason why I like most of the wine I drink is because I ask people.  The best thing you can possibly do for yourself when it comes to buying wine is ask for a suggestion from someone who has at least a little bit of experience drinking the stuff.  Not every suggestion is going to be good and some will flat out suck but I guarantee the number of good to bad wine you drink will be somewhere in the 5:1 ratio if not better.  It doesn't pay to blindly take a wine off the shelf because it has a pretty label, it does pay to ask.

This wine was suggested to me and I am very happy with my purchase...

Producer: Altano
Wine: Otus Scops (or thats the name of the owl, it's in very fine print above the owls head)
Region: Durou DOC, Portugal
Grapes: Tinta Roriz (tampranillo), Touriga Franca
Vintage: 2006
Alc: 13%
Price: $13

Notes:  The aroma is to die for it's a beautiful mix of blackberry, leather, tar, coffee, and tobacco, okay written down that sounds less appealing but trust me it's very nice.  Flavours are similar but there is a nice mix or red and black fruit with a little bit of herbaciousness, or what I called in my notes blackberry leaves, and some nice coffee and dark chocolate hints on the finish.  Medium bodied with nice acidity this wine is a must especially given the price!  The aroma is very nice, the wine itself is Nice!

Portugal and why I admire it
As I have mentioned previously Portugal grows a lot of pretty much unknown grapes and grows them in bizarre ways.  We live in a wine era where most countries grow the international varieties i.e. Syrah, Cab Sauv, Sauv Blanc, Chardonnay etc. basically anything you see and recognize on the shelf of a liquor store.  Almost all the international grapes are native to France, even malbec and carmenere, which are almost exclusively grown in South America these days are French by birthright.  We increasingly see countries that have their own native grapes traditionally used in local wine making switching over to the international varieties but Portugal stands strong.

I'm sure there are Portuguese vineyards growing international varieties but Portugal is one of the few countries that doesn't try and show off the grapes they use in their wine, they are confident in their product.  Altano listed the two grape varieties on the bottle one of which (touriga franca) is pretty much exclusive to Portugal and therefor unknown but the other grape, tinta roriz, is relatively common and well known in the world of wine when the spanish name is used - tampranillo, but Portugal feels no need to follow fashion so the local name is used.

It's hard to say whether Portugal and its' reluctance to use fashionable grapes or at least announce that it is using fashionable grapes will pay off.  Maybe the quirkiness of this delicious country will help its' global marketability, maybe more consumer interest in wine will mean more interest in Portuguese wine. All I hope is that enough people buy Portuguese wine made from native grapes so the wineries can make a profit and don't think about switching to the international varieties - we have enough of those already.

1 comment:

  1. I went to Portugal a year ago and honestly, I personally fell in love with their Quinta da Romeira 2007. This wine had the fresh lemon/citrus flavors and is an excellent pairing with seafood.