It's been quite awhile since my last post as family health problems will always take precedence over blogging, but it's time to get back to what I love - seeking out outstanding wine quality at affordable prices. Portugal is a country whose wines have virtually leaped onto the world stage in dramatic fashion in the last 10 years or so. For decades, the only Portuguese wine that was respected by wine buffs was Port, the fortified sweet red from the Douro Valley. These wines are famous and long-aging but are really best suited to sipping alone, or with a cheese plate or dessert. It's not as if Portugal didn't produce table wine - the country has been a major producer for a long time. But despite the centuries old pedigree, the table wines haven't been very good.
The three most famous wine producing regions in Portugal are Vinho Verde, Douro and Dao. Vinho Verde is know for it's whites, although plenty of red is produced there as well. Douro is know for the aforementioned Port, and nowadays, for world class red table wines as well. In Dao, the wine quality suffered from stagnation for 40 years due to government established co-ops that dominated production and destroyed competition and innovation. Once they were abolished when Portugal applied to join the European Union, quality wine became more common in the region.
There are dozens of indigenous varietals grown in Dao but the most common are Touriga Nacional, Tinto Roriz (Tempranillo), Alfrocheiro and Jaen. The Delicious $9.99 Casa de Santar is a blend of the first three of those grapes and delivers all kinds of pleasure at a bargain price. There's black raspberry and cherry on the nose with supporting notes of leather and damp earth. The palate is medium bodied with good dark berry flavors and supporting acidity that gives this wine shape. It's rare to find complexity like this at this price point. It went perfectly with some grass fed sirloins and polenta with a porcini mushroom sauce. I wish more consumers would take a chance on wines like this - in most cases they won't be disappointed. Casa de Santar is a product of Global Wines. Cheers.