The welcome surprise at the Wine Bloggers’ Conference #wbc12…Portuguese wines!

Portuguese wines were a huge surprise to me the first time I tried them and continue to be whenever I initiate others into this small but grand wine world of Portuguese wines.

Portugal has more to offer than just Port wines, they have amazing still wines a.k.a regular wines, that will blow you away! Having lived in Spain for the past two years and finally after being in the same Iberian Peninsula as Portugal, I ventured out to Oporto and then to the Douro River valley to taste some of the finest wines I had tasted in my life. Had I experienced these wines earlier, I would have potentially made Régua or Pinhão my new home instead of beautiful Rioja. I would have worked in a beautiful Quinta do…(add the name of any amazing Quinta here) and loved every minute of it. But I discovered this region already half way through my Masters of Viticulture and Enology program to be able to change paths at that point. There is always the future!

Viticulture and Enology Masters Group visiting the beautiful region of Douro, Portugal

I have taken with me, however, my love of Portuguese wines and am always happy to share this best kept secret with others.

Most recently, at the Wine Bloggers’ Conference in Portland this past month, there was a reason to share and to celebrate. During the recent Live Wine Blogging event focused on Reds, which is similar to a speed dating event with wine, I was served the 2010 Herdade do Esporão, Portugal Red “Quatro Castas 4” made with none other than one of my favorite grape varieties, Tempranillo, also known as Aragonez in Portugal. This wine is made of four different varieties: Aragonez, Tinta Miuda, Tinta Caiada, and Alfrocheiro.

2010 Herdade do Esporão, Quatro Castas 4

It was produced in a new region for me of Portugal, Alentejano. This region is located west of Lisbon, on the way to Badajoz, Spain.  For a price point of $17, I was happily surprised to have such a quality wine at that price point. It was complex yet easy to drink, it is a medium-bodied wine that in your mouth explodes with raspberries, ripe plums, and touch of cherry (must be the Tempranillo, aka, Aragonez).

For me this was the first time, I had a chance to try Portuguese wines from Alentejano and now I have two very good wine regions of Portugal to direct fellow wine lovers to, Douro and Alentejano.  I also have a new location on my list of places to visit in the near future! Tchim-tchim! Saúde! Cheers!

To find out more about Esporão wines, visit them at Esporão Winery or follow them on Twitter at @esporaowines

La Rioja Grape Varietals

This video was made at  Castillo de Maetierra located within the physical region of La Rioja- Rioja Baja, yet considered outside of the Denomination of La Rioja. It is located in Calahorra, a region predominantly known for vegetables and fruit production.

Video 1 of 2, Special thanks to Raul Acha, Enologist and Technical Director of Castillo de Maetierra at Vintae.

Because this vineyard is located outside of the denomination scope, it is allowed to cultivate any variety it desires.  They have made some very interesting wines recently, such as Gewürztraminer and Riesling.

The Enologist for Maetierra explains the morphological differences between each of the varieties this bodega grows.

Here are some interesting facts for you about La Rioja.
Within the Control Board of the Rioja Designation of Origin (D.O.Ca Rioja), there were seven traditional varietals allowed until recently, when in 2007 they allowed a total of nine new varieties to be cultivated within La Rioja. The seven traditional varietals are four red: Tempranillo, Garnacha, Graciano, Mazuelo; and three white: Viura, Garnacha Blanca, Malvasía.

Of these nine new varieties, there are three non-native white: Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Verdejo; three native white: Maturana Blanca, Tempranillo Blanco and Turruntes (Albillo); and three native reds: Maturana Tinta, Maturano (Maturana Parda) and Monastel.

This was first time since 1925 that varietals outside of the seven traditional ones were allowed into La Rioja for cultivation and wine making.

Video 2 of 2, Special thanks to Raul Acha, Enologist and Technical Director of Castillo de Maetierra at Vintae.