If what I am hearing and reading about the California wine supply is even remotely accurate, fans of big, rich reds under $15 better start looking for some new sources. After four consecutive small crops and strong demand, prices are going to go up. So I am trying to be proactive in showing customers that the US doesn’t have a monopoly on this type of wine, but the sources are not always traditional either. The modern producers of Portugal understand what the new wine consumers want and many of them are producing wines that fill the niche.The selections this week both come from a family winery with over 300 years of winemaking history. They are definitely a player in the production of traditional Portuguese wines but the current generation also realizes how the market is changing. I encourage you to try these selections and see if you find something you love, at a price below what you are used to paying. The white wine has great appeal for anyone who is part of the ABC club (anything but Chardonnay.) Their red wine will appeal to Cab drinkers, as well as fans of Spain, Bordeaux and Rhone wines.
2010 Quinta de Aveleda Vinho Verde, $10 per bottle
Buy the solid case for $8.50 per bottleClub members buy the solid case for $8.00 per bottle
Those familiar with Vinho Verde may be surprised to see one that sells for $10 a bottle. Not that many years ago they were all $5, slightly fizzy and not particularly interesting wines. Late last year I had the opportunity to taste this one, with it’s new, modern package, and I was terribly impressed. No fizz, but an aroma that leaps out of the glass! It is produced using indigenous grapes of the Vinho Verde area (an appellation in Portugal) a blend of 60% Loureiro, 30% Trajadura and 10% Alvarinho (Albarino in Spain.) As you would expect for a modern winery, fermented and aged in tank at very low temperatures to preserve natural acidity and aroma. The results are an eye opener, especially if you like Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc.The nose of their 2010 bottling is a dramatic combination of magnolia blossom, melon, red apple, tangerine and oyster shell. In the mouth it is round and soft to start, then finds a frame of acidity that stretches out into the finish. Traditionally this wine is served as an aperitif but you can serve this one with broiled oysters or clams, shrimp scampi or roast chicken.
2009 Aveleda FolliesTouriga Nacional & Cabernet Sauvignon, $12 per bottle
Buy the solid case for $10.20 per bottleClub members buy the solid case for $9.60 per bottleThis wine is hard to put into one category but has qualities that make it very appealing to a lot of you looking for a big red under $15. The Touriga Nacional (one of the most important grapes grown in Northern Portugal) gives this wine a powerful, deep sense of fruit not unlike Syrah or Shiraz, but with none of the olive or herbal qualities. The Cabernet provides it’s typical character but with a Bordeaux-like quality from a really ripe vintage. So I might call this a Cotes du Rhone meets Bordeaux by way of Barossa or Washington State? So let’s just call it what it is, a wine mutt, but a delicious one at that.The attention to detail that went into making this wine is a testament the attention to detail at Aveleda. All of the grapes were hand harvested, destemmed and sorted before going into the fermentor. After alcoholic and malolactic were complete the wine was racked to French and American oak barrels and aged for a year. The winery then bottled and aged the wine for an additional eighteen months before releasing, to let the flavors harmonize and to round the edges. I don’t think there are many wineries in the world that put that much work into a $12 wine.When you open this wine, make sure to put it into a decanter for a half hour to let the aroma develop. When you pour a glass you will get hit with a big nose of cherry jam, dried mission fig, espresso grounds, black plums and cocoa powder. In the mouth this wine is shockingly rich and low in acidity, with smooth edges define the fruit into a long finish. This is a really useful wine, good for serving with everything from steak fajitas to smothered pork chops. You can also age this wine for three to five years.This cool looking ship, is an Italian aircraft carrier. It’s named after Giuseppe Garabaldi, an Italian who played a major role in the unification of Italy.