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Wine expert explores the range of delicious Portuguese wine

Fri 15 Jan 2010 15:55

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Portugal might not immediately spring to mind as a country known for producing great wine, but It’s actually a fantastic source of high quality, affordable wine.

Many of us are narrow-minded about the wine from the country, and immediately just associate it with the fortified, after-dinner wine Port, but Mateus Rosé or Vinho Verde are two of the country’s other offerings that are really quite delicious.

Portugal offers a nice range of wine that is a little bit different. Perched on the edge of Europe, so far Portugal has held on to a huge array of local grapes with unfamiliar names like Touriga Nacional, Loureiro and Baga that are rarely, if ever, found elsewhere. But quality and individuality is high - and the wines are well worth trying.

Here are wine expert Tom Cannavan’s top three wines from the country:

1. Quinta de Azevedo, Vinho Verde 2008, Portugal, priced at £6.49 from Waitrose
Vinho Verde comes in all quality levels, with a lot of cheap and cheerful wine about. But some growers are making much more serious stuff like this wonderful wine, which is a blend of Loureiro and  Pedernã, and is beutifully fresh, with crystal-clear pear fruit on the nose.

There's a touch of waxy, and floral character too, and the palate has a little more richness than some, with a lemon rind character and fine acidity.

With tasting cues of lemon rind and pears, this wine goes really nicely with any grilled fish, particularly oily fish like mackerel or sardines.

2. Quinta de Chocapalha, White Wine 2008, Portugal, priced at £9.52 from Corney & Barrow (Ayr, 01292 267 000). (If you mention The Hour, you’ll get 15 per cent off all Portuguese wines, so this wine would cost £8.09)

This pick is a blend of the local Arinto with Chardonnay. It comes from a region called Estremadura and is made by a young woman winemaker, Sandra Tavares.

This is a very fresh, zingy white with lime and floral notes. It's big brother, the 'Reserva' white is aged in oak barrels, but this is all about freshness and fruitiness.

With flavours of flowers, oranges and limes, this wine is great with pasta in creamy sauces, simple fish dishes, or quiche or onion tarts.

3. Tinto da Anfora, Red Wine 2006, Portugal, priced at £5.99, Sainsbury's and Waitrose
This wine comes from Alentejo, a large area that begins just north of the Algarve. It’s a blend of the Portuguese varieties Aragonez, Touriga Nacional and Alfrocheiro with a dash of Cabernet Sauvignon.

It's a bold, plush, spicy and rich red with lots of creamy oak and depth of flavour, and is a real winter warmer for casseroles and stews.

With tasting cues of blackberries, violets, and peppercorns, this wine is a great match for roast lamb, casseroles, stews or chilli con carne.

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