Wine Report- Portugal Tasting Trip

I spent 10 days in Portugal recently and as you can imagine, I tasted a lot of wine. Portugal is a beautiful country, and very affordable. I ordered at least a half bottle of wine with every meal I ate and never spent more that $15-20. While in Porto, we spent a good amount of our time on the south side of the Douro river in Vila Nova de Gaia, which is lined with famous port lodges that offer tours and tastings of their wines. We visited eight of these and were able to get a good handle on the best of the region’s port. I’ve long said that if I could drink only one beverage for the rest of my life (besides water of course), it would most likely be port. Here is a rundown of the very best of the wines we sampled, broken down by style of port.


1. Croft Vintage Port 2009, 94 Points, $80- Thick raisin, dark plum and dark chocolate aromas. Inky body is elegantly textured and loaded with thick, creamy dark plum sauce, black licorice, mocha and fig paste, finishing with a blast of wet mineral and cigar box that lingers long. Thick and tannic, and needs many years to evolve to its full potential.

2. Taylor Fladgate Vintage Port 2009, 94 Points, $100- Opaque body, with intense aromas of dark plum and raisin. Inky body of plum, blueberry and violet are thick as can be, with complex smoke, dark chocolate and oak adding complexity and depth. Firm tannins add grip, and this will be amazing in time.

3. Ramos Pinto Vintage Port 2000, 90 Points, $75- Opaque body, aromas of plums, chocolate and pepper. Thick, dark body, with intense pepper and leathery mineral complexities coating the deep plum and dark chocolate flavors. Finish is long and peppery.


1. Ramos Pinto Quinta Do Bom Retiro NV, 93 Points, $70- All-encompassing aromas of toffee, oranges and chocolate. Creamy and smooth, with intense spice, toffee, orange peel, smoke and toasted oak flavors that linger long. Incredible.

2. Churchill Estate NV, 92 Points, $50- Gorgeous, with a creamy nutmeg and vanilla influence above flavors of caramel, mandarin orange, peach and white pepper spice. Distinctive citrus flavor. Spice lingers forever with notes of crème brulee through the long finish.

3. Taylor Fladgate NV, 92 Points, $55- Transparent amber hue, showing strong floral citrus aromas. Syrupy mouthfeel is full of mouthcoating orange and apricot as well as exotic spice, leading into toasty oak and toffee flavors. Spice lingers through the long finish, with citrus lingering.

4. Niepoort NV, 92 Points, $90- Intense aromas of dried orange peel and apricot with notes of hazelnut. Rich and exciting, with balanced toffee and nut elements backed with spicy stone fruits, finishing with a blast of white chocolate.


1. Croft NV, 92 Points, $30- Spicy escalloped apple, caramel and orange peel aromas. Soft, sugary body of intense cointreau tangerine backed with spicy caramel and vanilla bean. Long, luscious finish.

2. Ramos Pinto Quinta de Ervamoira NV, 92 Points, $30- Amber body, with a creamy mouthfeel of heavy oak and deep toffee flavors backed with intense spice. Finishes with a complex, tarry earth component through the long, spicy length. Creamy and nutty throughout, picking up a cream soda note as it lingers.

3. Taylor Fladgate NV, 91 Points, $35- Unique amber color, with aromas that are moderately sweet and oaky. Oily texture on the palate, with a lovely combination of floral citrus, caramel and vanilla oak notes, backed by creamy chocolate and spice through the long finish.

4. Fonseca NV, 91 Points, $35- Lovely aromas of cream, spice and hazelnut lead into a creamy, spicy body with lots of toffee and and nut flavors that combine with subtle berry and dark plum notes. Spicy and chocolaty through the long, intense finish.

5. Quinta do Noval NV, 90 Points, $30- Subtle caramel and orange citrus aromas. Sweet, spicy mouthfeel of orange and toffee that quickly turns to deep oak flavors. Slightly astringent and hot through the finish, but lovely spiced caramel notes carry.


1. Ramos Pinto 2007, 90 Points, $25- Dark chocolate and raisin aromas. Full-bodied and spicy, with dark black fruits and plum running over the ripe mouthfeel, finishing with sweet, exotic pepper spices that linger long. Rich, chocolatey and sweet.

2. Taylor Fladgate 2o05, 90 Points, $25- Thick and chocolatey, with rich plum sauce and black licorice fruit flavors. Finishes with a note of spice and chocolate through the medium to long length.

3. A.A. Calem 2006, 89 Points, $25- Dark, rich and inky, with intense black plum and blackberry fruit above dark chocolate, exotic spice and firm tannins. Finishes with elegance and depth.

4. Dow’s 2007, 87 Points, $22- Rum-raisin and plum aromas. Brown sugar, dark plum and licorice flavors gain dark chocolate undertones through the medium length. Rich, but a bit flat.


1. Churchill Touriga Nacional Estate Douro Valley 2009, 92 Points, $30- Dark, ripe black fruit, especially perfumed black plum and cherry. Deftly balanced between its creamy cocoa and vivid black cherry fruit notes. This is very rich and dark, with a long finish with peppery spice and cocoa lingering.

2. Churchill Estate Tinto Douro Valley 2009, 89 Points, $20- Full-bodied, ripe and fruity, with dark plum and black cherry fruit combining with black pepper, cocoa powder and wet stone mineral nuances through the long, dry finish.

3. Quinta do Crasto Tinto Douro Valley 2010, 88 Points, $15- Ripe, perfumey, crushed berry fruit on the nose. Fleshy and ripe on the palate, with vivid black cherry and black raspberry fruit that gains a touch of stone minerality as it lingers with a dry, tannic grip.

4. Quinta Do Roques Tinto Dao 2009, 88 Points, $20- Very ripe but perfumey and aromatic with its dark berry and plum fruit. Dry finish with a hint of wet stone mineral through the medium length.



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