I have heard the clarion call for the wines of Portugal, those intriguing wines which seduce with their tantalizing aromas and flavors. It is my desire that many others feel the urge of that clarion call too. To that end, I have become an ardent advocate for Portuguese wines, to share all the excellence I have found in their wines.
For example, last year, three of my Top Ten Wines Under $15 were from Portugal. These included the 2006 Conde De Vimioso, 2007 Twin Vines Vinho Verde, and 2007 Quinta Da Alorna Vinho Rosé. This year so far, a Portuguese wine stands to be my top pick for the 2009 Top Ten Wines Under $15. This incredible wine value is the 2007 Cerejeiras Regional Tinto, which only cost me $5.60! A killer wine under $6? It could only have come from Portugal.
I was especially fortunate in both 2007 and 2008 to attend grand Portuguese wine tastings hosted by The Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MSPCA)-Angell in partnership with ViniPortugal and the Instituto dos Vinhos do Douro e do Porto (IVDP). These extensive tastings helped me gain a better appreciation for the wines of Portugal. What has been most compelling about these wines?
First, Portugal offers many value wines, including a good share of wines under $10. These are often wines with character and not one-dimensional plonk. If I had to recommend someone a wine under $10, I would tell that person to buy a Portuguese wine. Second, many of their wines are enticingly aromatic. They have such diverse, vibrant and alluring smells. They seduce the nose, tempting you to taste them. Third, their indigenous grapes possess intriguing smells and tastes, sometimes very different from what you may be used to, yet often a delight.
Finally, and very importantly, most of the Portuguese wine makers and distributors I have met have evidenced a strong passion for their wines. And as I have often said, passion is the path to excellence. Their passion is contagious, convincing you to taste their wines, and ultimately to become an advocate for their wines as well.
Despite all the excellent things about Portuguese wines, they still remain almost a hidden secret. Not enough people know about Portuguese wines yet that has been changing, albeit slowly. Too many people still think that Portugal only makes Port wines. They don't know about all of the excellent still wines now being made in Portugal.
The future will look brightest for Portugal if they can further spread the word about their wines. They need more eager advocates, more distribution, more positive press. Consumers need to be encouraged to taste their wines, to learn what they are missing. I am doing my part in this endeavor and hope others join along.
Locally, I highly recommend that wine lovers check out a major Portuguese wine tasting being held on September 24, from 5:30-7:30pm, at the Gallery 808, 808 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston. The tasting is a collaboration between the Instituto dos Vinhos do Douro e Porto (IVDP) and Boston University 's Elizabeth Bishop Wine Resource Center. You will get to taste a wide varity of Ports and still wines from the Douro region. For more information about this event, call 1-877-2-PORTUGAL (1-877-276-7884). I will definitely be there myself.
Otherwise, just take a chance on a Portuguese wine. Ask your local wine retailer for recommendations. Check the wine blogs for suggestions. Go to wine tastings that feature Portuguese wines. Just try it!
What may also help to spread the word about Portuguese wine is the upcoming European Wine Blogger's Conference which will be held October 30-November 1 in Lisbon, Portgual. At this event, wine bloggers from all over the world will meet, chat and network together. Plus, they will taste many different Portuguese wines and visit some wineries. The event's organizers include Catavino (my friends Ryan and Gabriella) and Wine Conversation.
I was originally considering a trip to Portugal this fall, with a stop at the European Wine Blogger's Conference (EWBC), but that has been put on hold. The tough economic situation just won't allow such a trip this year, but maybe next year will be a more fortunate time. Or I might get real lucky and win a trip to the EWBC. EWBC sponsor ViniPortugal is currently holding a contest with a top prize of a free trip plus expenses to the EWBC. You can check out the EWBC post for more information about the contest.
No matter what, I will remain an advocate for Portuguese wines. Please try one of their wines and tell me what you think.