Wednesday, May 31, 2017
Terra Nostra: Savoring Portuguese Cuisine & Wines
In 2016, exports of Portuguese wines to the U.S. reached about 1.56 million cases, an increase of about 90,000 cases from the previous year. Between 2010 and 2015, the value of Portuguese table wine exports grew by 18.4% while volume grew by 8.2%, indicating that more higher priced wines were exported to the U.S. The best selling Portuguese wines in the U.S. are those from the Vinho Verde region, consisting of approximately 50% of all imports. There is plenty of room for growth of Portuguese wines in the U.S., and it is clear consumers need to learn more about wines from other Portuguese regions, such as the Douro, Dao, and Alentejo.
Each year at the Boston Wine Expo, I make sure to sample some Portuguese wines, always stopping by the tables of LGL Imports. LGL Imports (Luiz’s Grocery & Liquors, Inc.) is a family owned company that was established in 1977, and began importing Portuguese wines and spirits in 1979. Several years ago, I met Luis Oliveira, whose father started the company, and Luis is carrying on that business. During these past years, a number of wines from LGL Imports have ended up on my year-end Top Ten lists. Their wines have often presented some amazing values, including even some wines that cost under $10! Plus, they have some compelling wines that are higher end too.
Recently, Luis invited me down to Fall River, to taste some wines at their warehouse, and then to dine out at a local Portuguese restaurant, drinking more of their wines. It was an excellent evening, with plenty of amazing food and wine, as well as interesting company and conversation. It was plenty of fun, and if I didn't have to face an hour drive home, I might have stayed up all night drinking with them. Luis told me that Azoreans hate to end an evening, and they all would have continued drinking until the morning arrived.
Terra Nostra, a casual spot that has been around for nearly thirty years. The current owner is Gus Oliveira, who purchased the place about 14 years ago. I met Gus and he was very pleasant and personable. It was obvious from observing him during the course of the evening that many of the customers must be regulars as they all seemed to know and like Gus. This is clearly a popular neighborhood spot.
The Wine List is primarily Portuguese, with only about 12 California wines (big names that are pricier). You'll find about 50 Red Wines (most under $30/bottle), 13 Whites ($16-$25/bottle), 10 Sparkling Wines, and 4 Rosé Wines, as well as Ports & Madeiras. They carry numerous wines from the LGL Imports portfolio. Overall, there is plenty of diversity on the wine list and the prices are extremely reasonable and affordable.
Terra Nostra impressed, with plenty of superb dishes, and presents an excellent value as well. The wines paired very well with the various foods, reinforcing my passion for Portuguese wines. I owe big thanks to Luis and friends for such a fun and tasty evening, one I hope to repeat again in the future. If you are ever in the Fall River area, I strongly recommend you check out Terra Nostra. And I also strongly recommend you drink more Portuguese wines, and look for those from LGL Imports.