06/06/12 – Portuguese wines for post-tournament withdrawal

By Jesse on June 4, 2012

The conclusion of this year’s big March Craziness tasting tournament resulted in the rough equivalent of a Winos constitutional crisis.  For the first time in the five-year history of our annual blind-tasting extravaganza, I was the winner, despite also serving as the master of ceremonies, adjudicator, official scorekeeper, etc.  In and of itself, this didn’t concern me too much — I’d won fair and square, after all, and I was long overdue for a title.  But what to do with the two “first prize” bottles from the Winos stash, which I’ve been personally cellaring for several years now?  Although it would’ve been plenty easy to simply move them over from the “communal” section to the “personal” section in my kitchen cabinet, that seemed even to me to smack of graft and insider dealing, so I decided to reinvest my trophies back into the LA chapter, basing a meeting on each one.

This week, we’ll start with the older of the two: the 2004 Azamor “Selected Vines” (Alentejo, Portugal), of which you can read our 2009 review here.  To complement this bottle, we’ll be holding our first “Portugal” meeting in over two years, one which I hope will feature bottles from across the broad spectrum that is the Portuguese wine experience.  Although you don’t encounter too much Portuguese wine on most wine lists in this country, the fact is that there’s much more to Portugal than just Port.  This week we’ll find out what, exactly.

Whites. There are a ton of white varieties in Portugal that we may not have tried before, including Encruzado, Gouveio, Viosinho, Malvasia Fina, and Maria Gomes. The Winos have had a few bottles of Vinho Verde, that crisp and slightly effervescent quaffer that’s made to drink young… and may just be an ideal aperitif for yoursummer  hors d’oeuvres. When you get your bottle of white, see if you can find out (via the label, the internet, whatever) which grapes are included in the blend!

Reds. Here’s where things will really get interesting. Portugal boasts some of the most underrated and unknown value reds in Europe. According to Karen MacNeil, “they range from light and fruity to supple and spicy with dense plum and raspberry flavors.”  Major grapes include Touriga Nacional, Alicante Bouschet, Baga, Tinta Roriz (aka Tempranillo), and Periquita — as well as some plantings of Cabernet, Syrah, etc.

Port. The legendary dessert wine is massive and flavorful… the perfect accompaniment to a cool LA summer night. Unfortunately, it’s a bit overwhelming to try to taste a bunch in a row, so lets cap the “Port presence” at two: if you have a Port that you love and you’re dying to share it, or you’ve heard great things about a particular bottle, please indicate in your RSVP that you’d like to bring a Port. First-come first-served on that one, as a meeting full of Ports would be a huge disaster. (Same goes for anyone wishing to bring a Madeira dessert wine… they’re delicious, but overwhelming in great quantities, so please contact me.)

We’ll be hosting the meeting at Wino HQ up in the balmy expanses of Sherman Oaks. The RSVP system functions like this: if you want in, you click on this link and tell me so (don’t forget your full name, e-mail address, and a cute message conveying to me your intentions).  Once you’ve received your confirmation e-mail, go out and find yourself a relevant bottle of Portuguese wine (or just grab a crisp $10 bill).  Hope to see you on Wednesday at 8pm.