How do you gather 50 of the best wines from a single country? It’s an impossible task, and the final selections will, in some sense, always be arbitrary. But several Master Sommeliers recently tasted through 600 samples from Portugal and whittled them down to the top 50. Wines of Portugal, a trade group promoting the country’s wines, then promotes a tasting event celebrating the top wines.
After blind-tasting some 600 Portuguese wines, Master Sommeliers Peter Granoff, Dennis Kelly, and Madeline Triffon chose a list of the best. Master Somm Peter Granoff writes, “It is not the 50 Great wines, after all, but just 50 Great from a fascinating, dynamic wine-producing country.” And these wines represent a drop in the bucket considering Portugal boasts more than 200 native grape varieties and an expansive amount of soil types and terrain. But this list isn’t composed of prohibitively expensive bottles — some cost about $10-$15.
Lauren Mowery, a fantastic NYC-based writer, recapped the tasting in New York in this Village Voice article. I couldn’t attend the tasting, which was surely a master class in the diversity of Portuguese wines, but I did receive a few samples for review, which I’ve pasted below.
2011 Adega Cooperativa de Borba Borba Grande Reserva - Portugal, Alentejano, Alentejo, Borba
Saucy purple color. Smells smoky and toasty, with vanilla coffee on top of black cherries and currant jam, some scorched earth and tobacco. Full-bodied, some refreshing acidity frames the medium-strength tannins, it all comes together quite nicely. Noticeable oak for sure (dark roast coffee, vanilla, campfire smoke) the fruit is juicy but stays fresh and crunchy (black currant, blueberry, black cherry). There’s a good amount of herbal tea, wet leaves, chewing tobacco and charcoal elements, which really come out on the finish, especially once this wine gets air. A split blend between Trincadeira and Alicante Bouschet. (88 points)
2013 Quinta da Sequeira Douro Ecos - Portugal, Douro
Light purple color. Smells rustic (but in a good way) with campfire smoke and cigars to match the black red currant and black cherries. Medium bodied, smooth but moderately structured tannins, some refreshing acidity. The red and black cherries and currants and tart and crunchy but plenty of juicy ripeness. Elements of sweet tobacco, coffee and clove mix with a sense of dusty/earthy minerality. Really tasty and versatile stuff. A classic Douro blend of Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, 25% Susao, 15% Tinta Roriz, 15% Tinta Barroca. For $12, are you kidding me? (87 points)