Alternative Reds: Not Cab., Mer., or P.N.


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No, friends, there’s not a darned thing wrong with cabernet sauvignon, merlot or pinot noir wines — unless they’re made in an overwrought, obtrusive manner — but they tend to dominate the discussion of the world’s red wines and so-called “noble” grapes. If you’re just a tad weary of those wines, I offer alternatives in today’s post, with grapes that include alicante bouschet, carignan, malbec, petite sirah, sangiovese, tempranillo, syrah/shiraz and tannat. Our Seven League Boots touch down in Mendoza, Tuscany, Paso Robles, Alentejo (Portugal), Chile’s Maule Valley, Apulia, Arroyo Seco, Oregon’s Umpqua Valley and Monterey County. Oh the things you’ll see! And the wines you’ll taste! Enjoy, in moderation, of course.

These wines were samples for review.

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Malbec is not exactly an unknown grape in the United States. One cannot go into a liquor store or big box venue without encountering shelves and boxes of malbec wines from …

Rabisco Vinho Tinto Reserva Tejo 2015 Reminds Us of our Time in Portugal


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Rabisco Vinho Tinto Reserva Tejo 2015

A year ago, we enjoyed a wonderful wine journey through Portugal. This was our first visit to the country and would love to return. We enjoyed the wines and food from several wine regions. We discovered new grape varieties and learned to make cocktails with port, an experience that helped us make it through the summer. Recently, we tasted a Portuguese wine, Rabisco Vinho Tinto Reserva Tejo 2015 that brought back memories of that wine journey. From the aroma, our first thought was Portugal.

The Wine

The Rabisco Vinho Tinto Reserva Tejo 2015, that we received as a sample from Winesellers, Ltd., had an opaque dark ruby to black color with a dark red hue. This equal blend of Touriga Nacional and Cabernet Sauvignon was 13.5% alcohol. The aroma reminded us of Portugal with dark fruits and baking spices. Blackberries and blueberries …

Weekend Wine Notes: Nine Robust Reds for Superbowl Snacks


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Oh, sure, you’re thinking, “Hey, F.K., this is America! We drink beer when we watch the Super Bowl!” All right, I understand the issues involved, but even when you’re talking about barbecue nachos, baby-back ribs, Sloppy Joes, prime rib sliders, even certain varieties of chili and quesadillas, a large-framed, robust wine can be as appropriate as beer, though, I confess, not with super-spicy food laced with serranos and such. Anyway, following that premise, I offer nine examples of the sorts of wine you could serve this Sunday while watching two teams neither of which apparently deserve to be there contending on the gridiron of valor. Prices range from a comfortable $14 and $18, good for supplying bottles to crowds of football fans, up to $60. As usual with these Weekend Wine Notes I deliver no elements of technical, geographical or historical data for the sake of quick, …

30 Great Wine Bargains of 2018, $20 and Under


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The title of this post needs no elaboration, but I’ll inform you that prices range from $7.50 to $20. It’s a diverse group of wines. Seven from France; 6 California; 5 Italy; 2 each Argentina, Australia, Chile and Oregon; 1 each Bulgaria, Germany, Portugal and South Africa. (Welcome, Bulgaria!) By genre or hue: 1 sparkling wine; 3 rosé; 10 red and 16 white. As a matter of fact, the 30 wines on this roster would make a great restaurant wine list. So, enjoy! In moderation, of course.

With one exception, these wines were samples for review.
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Albert Bichot Bourgogne Aligoté 2015, Burgundy, France. Excellent. About $16.
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Amalaya Malbec 2016, Salta, Mendoza, Argentina. With 10 percent tannat, 5 petit verdot. Excellent. About $16.
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Domaine Bousquet Gaia Tupungato White Blend 2016, Mendoza, Argentina. 50 percent chardonnay, 35 pinot gris, 15 sauvignon blanc. Excellent. About $18.
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Domaine …

Wine of the Day, No. 445


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Here’s a potion that will warm the cockles of your heart on these chilly eves. By the way, that old expression has nothing to do with “cockles and mussels, alive-alive oh,” but is a popular corruption of the Latin cochleae cordis, for the ventricles of the heart. Anyway, the Dow’s Late Bottled Vintage Port 2012 is a large-framed, robust and supple-silky port that goes down like liquid embers. A quick explanation. Vintage Port, the real, rare and expensive stuff, rests two or three years in wood and then is bottled in its fiery, tannic youth to develop and mature over decades of slumber. LBV ages as long as four to six years after harvest in barrel, so by the time it’s bottled, the wine has already matured to a drinkable state. LBVs are priced more reasonably that true Vintage Ports. Grapes for Dow’s Late Bottled Vintage Port 2012 derive …

Alma Vitis, a White Wine from Portugal


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Alma Vitis, white wine in Portugal

On a pleasant, sunlit afternoon, we opened a bottle of Alma Vitis wine from Portugal. This particular Alma Vitis white wine was a gift from the mayor of a town in the Torres Vedras DOC region. Our wine tour, e-Spain by Ángel Moretón, had stopped at three small wineries in the Torres Vedras DOC region and we were pleased to meet Carlos Manuel Antunes Bernardes, mayor of Torres Vedras. After our wine tasting at Quinta da Folgorosawe returned to our large tour bus and were pleasantly surprised to realize that we had been gifted with a Alma Vitis white wine.

The Alma Vitis wine was 13.5% alcohol. The color of the wine was a pale yellow with a green hue. The wine aroma was light and delicate with tropical fruit notes including grapefruit and hints of pineapple.  The taste included …

What We’re Drinking Now: Chill White Wine from Spain and Portugal


This post is by Jill Barth from L'OCCASION


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Chill white wines. Perfectly refreshing but so much more. White wines from the Iberian Peninsula, abundant Spain and Portugal, are not only cooling and chill but also wise cultural ambassadors for their region.

Iberian wines
A selection of white wines from Spain and Portugal. Credit: Jill Barth

What these wines offer in terms of drinkability (especially in dog-days August) comes naturally, exhibitions of indigenous varieties calibrated by geographically-centered winemaking. Native yeasts, ancient methods, attention to detail and sheer craft enthusiasm make these wines serious contenders for top-of-my-list wines to drink. And wines to talk about — interesting helps, in our house, because we talk a lot about wine.

My hubby and I work together on every meal that makes a showing on L’Occasion. To achieve our partnership, we talk a lot about wine and food. This week, as we worked on this post about Iberian wines I’m simultaneously publishing a piece on …

Wine of the Day, No. 409


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Vintage Port, the long-lived fortified wine from Portugal’s Douro Valley, is a fairly specialized product whose sales, in the latter third of the 20th Century, declined. What to do with all those grapes, if not make them, as tradition dictated, into Port? A generation ago, the Port houses came up with a solution; take the same grape varieties that go into Port and make unfortified table wines. That trend became a tide, and now it’s a rare producer that does not feature a full line of table wines in its roster. Here’s a fine example for this Wine of the Day. The Quinta do Vallado Douro Red 2015 is a blend of 25 percent each touriga franca, touriga nacional and tinta roriz, with 5 percent sousao and then 20 percent mixed varieties from vineyards planted more than 80 years ago. The wine aged 16 months, 70 percent in stainless steel, …

Weekend Wine Notes: Six Ports for Dear Old Dad


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On Mother’s Day, I wrote about Champagne. For Father’s Day, the subject is Port. Who gets the better deal is up to you to decide, if such a decision is even necessary. Personally, I’ll take Champagne before dinner and Port after.

Port, made in Portugal’s Douro Valley, is a fortified wine, that is, fermentation is stopped with the addition of brandy or neutral grape spirits to the tanks or vats, leaving the wine with some (usually well-balanced) sweetness and an alcohol content of 19 or 20 percent. Young ports, especially fledgling vintage ports, can be powerful, fiery and tannic; old tawny ports lean toward mellow and ethereal. Port wines occur in many categories, some types fairly arcane, but the principle kinds are Ruby, Reserve, Late-Bottled Vintage, Vintage Port and Tawny. Ruby Ports are the youngest, the freshest and most fruity, typically aged in vats for two or three years. Reserve …

Photographing Portugal: Where to capture fantastic photos in Northern Portugal


This post is by Gabriella Opaz from Food and Wine Tours in Portugal and Spain


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Portugal is renowned for its stunning coastal landscapes and kind, engaging people; which is much of the reason why Portugal continuously ranks as one of the top tourism destinations in Europe. That said, what many people haven’t experienced is the rustic interior of Portugal, where villages are hidden among the folds of terraced mountains, and where cultural traditions have remained intact…

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Discover Jewish Heritage throughout Portugal and Spain


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Orange trees scent a patio in Lisbon’s ancient Alfama neighborhood. Cilantro is used to season a seafood stew, made just like this for over a thousand years. Sausage made with bread stuffing hangs in a smokehouse and its true origin is hidden. A cook fries tiny fish in olive oil, unaware of the stories that belie this humble dish. Almond blossoms bloom and announce the eventual nut harvest which…

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Day 13: Our Last Day of the Portugal Wine Tour


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Although our last day in Portugal was jam-packed full of activities; we enjoyed every minute of it. After another terrific breakfast at The Yeatman hotel, we met with Beatriz Machado, wine director and Richard Bowden, marketing director for the hotel.

 

 

View of Porto from The Yeatman

The Yeatman hotel

Spa at The Yeatman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This very enjoyable meeting was followed with a visit to the IVDP (Instituto Do Vinho Do Porto) where we had an extended visit to the pristine laboratories where the IVDP wines are tested to be sure they meet the strict regulations of IVDP.

 

IVDP

IVDP

IVDP

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our next stops were two port houses; Porto Cruz and Ferreira. Wine enthusiasts will want to consider visiting both of these port houses while in Portugal. Porto Cruz uses “The Woman in Black” as …

Day 12: Portugal Wine Tour


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We extended our winery tour of Portugal’s wine region for a couple extra days. On the twelfth day of our our visit to Portugal, we visited three port lodges across the Douro River from Porto.

Our  first visit was to the Offley port house in Vila Nova de Gaia across the Douro River. Offley was started by William Offley in 1737. His nephew, Joseph James Forrester gained fame for his extensive survey of the Douro and the vineyards.

 

Offley port house

Have you tried Offley’s White Port yet?

Offley’s port tasting

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our next visit was to Taylor Fladgate. The port lodge, established in 1692, is one of Portugal’s oldest port lodges. Visitors to the Taylor Fladgate port house can enjoy a long, self-guided tour and a tasting port. Over the many years, four families have been involved with the port house including: Bearsley, …

Day 10: Portugal Wine Tour


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On our last full day of the e-Spain and Washington State University Viticulture and Enology wine tour to Portugal, we began the day with a visit to the Vinho Verde wine region in northern Portugal. The region’s climate is well-suited to growing white wine grapes, although a few growers are working with red wine grapes.

Our first stop of the day was Quintas de Megaço which is a family winery focused on producing Alvarinho wines with grapes sourced from growers in the Vinho Verde region. The winemaker, Helio Barreiros is enthusiastic about the winemaking at the winery. 

 

Megaço tasting room

Acacia barrel seen at Megaço

Winemaker at Megaço

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After our lengthly tour and wine tasting at the winery, we enjoyed lunch at a local restaurant. The restaurant was small and a narrow way led to the stair. At the bottom of the stairway, …

Day 9: Portugal Wine Tour


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Our wine tour with e-Spain and the Washington State University Enology and Viticulture tours added the intriguing experience of visiting a small barrel producer. In Porto one morning, we visited Josafer Cooperage, a family owned and operated cooperage. In addition to producing large oak wine barrels, they also rejuvenate oak barrels. Our group was treated to a step-by-step process of crafting an oak barrel by hand. The workers at Josafer Cooperage are skilled crafts people who have learned their skills from the ground up. Our tour was conducted by the daughter and her brother of the founder of this small, boutique cooperage.

Josafer Cooperage where barrel making is a craft!

Demo of how a barrel stave is made

Josafer Cooperage barrel head

 

 

 

 

 

 

Graham’s Port Lodge

Next we visited a port lodge. Graham’s Port Lodge dates back to the 19th century. The company focuses on …

8th Day: Portugal


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Our tour of Portugal’s wine regions continued on our eighth day with visits to two quintas in the Douro Valley. At Quinta do Portal, we had the opportunity to see a demonstration of a Port bottle opened with a tong. During our tour we learned that older ports tend to have the corks sealed with sugar from the ports, increasing the likelihood of the corks falling apart as they are removed from the bottle. Using iron tongs and a special technique, the neck of the bottle is cut. The technique seems simple enough, but would you want to use it with a bottle of old Port in your cellar? At our demonstration, we were asked would we rather use the tongs on an old Port or saber a bottle of Champagne? How would you answer?

Portal

Porta tongs

Portal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For  our visit to …

7th Day: Portugal


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DÃO

Our journey of Portugal’s wine regions through e-Spain  with Washington State University  took us to the Dão and Távora-Varosa regions.

Casa de Darei is notable for maintaining organic vineyards. In addition to the wines, Casa de Darei had a medium-sized dog who was looking for hugs. A wall in the tasting room is filled with numerous images of grapes growing in Portugal.

 

 

Casa de Darei

Lagar de Darei 2015

Darei’s winery dog was very friendly

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quinta de Lemos is a relatively new winery having started about 1996. At the time of the purchase, the property had 10 hectares of vineyards. Quinta de Lemos has increased the number of vineyards significantly.

Quinta de Lemos flag

Old vintage vats at Quinta de Lemos

Fog gently kisses the Quinta de Lemos vineyards

 

 

 

 

 

 

Murganheira Winery, located …