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Red wines

Light-bodied, tangy, fruity Red Wines

The vineyards along Portugal’s windy Atlantic coast (the ones that make light, fresh, fruity whites) also make some of their reds in a similar light, tangy style, with alcohol typically nowadays around 11%.

 

Robust reds

The Douro Valey is the most reliable source for this style of red wine. Serious, big and often firmly tannic in their first few years of life, top Douro reds nevertheless have their own robust style of elegance, and often a complexity of flavour that comes from the mix of grapes, sometimes “vineyard blends” where old vines of mixed varieties are planted together. These are wines that age and develop well, their tannins softening, their fruit mellowing. The higher the price, the more you might expect them to repay ageing – but this can only be a generalization.

Rich, round, full-bodied Reds

Alentejo hot summers make ripening easy, and sweet grapes mean rich fruit and lots of body. Alentejo reds are made from a variable blend of grape varieties, including Trincadeira and Aragonez, Alicante Bouschet and Syrah, Touriga Nacional and Cabernet Sauvignon.

 

Elegant reds

They may be inexpensive, rich, round and full, or very expensive, even richer, dense, and oak-aged, but still with a certain opulence and easy-drinking charm Elegant reds.

 Dão has perhaps the greatest concentration in Portugal of elegant reds; altitude is high, the soils granite, the climate cool, ripening slow. Fine-quality Touriga Nacional is blended with Tinta Roriz, Alfrocheiro, Jaen and other grapes to make intensely-flavoured, perfumed reds with good acidity and lovely balance.

The red wines of Palmela on the Península de Setúbal can be elegant, made from the Castelão grape, which is difficult elsewhere but able in the sandy soils of the Setúbal Peninsula to ripen well and give reds wines with complex, fruity flavours, good acidity and balanced tannins, ageing to a cedary character not unlike that of mature Cabernet Sauvignon.