Celebrating Spain and Portugal

The Board recently promoted Spanish and Portuguese wines so why don’t we tag along? For the benefit of the non-traveler, I’d like to point out that while these countries share the same peninsula they have little in common. Their cultures and their wines are very different. And while both countries have a history of winemaking neither has been successful at marketing to the outside world.

spanishThe Board recently promoted Spanish and Portuguese wines  so why don’t we tag along? For the benefit of the non-traveler, I’d like to point out that while these countries share the same peninsula they have little in common. Their cultures and their wines are very different. And while both countries have a history of winemaking neither has been successful at marketing to the outside world. The Rioja wines of Spain were once highly regarded but have faded –  along with Portugal’s one hit wonder, Mateus Rosé.

New players and regions – more accurately, old regions  – have been given a new life. Let’s start by identifying the different styles of Spanish and Portuguese reds. Spanish reds are an easy to like because they’re rich, and spicy sweet. They feel friendly and a little exotic, not unlike Australian or Chilean reds. Few people know that today’s popular New World-style reds (with sweet oaky/vanilla flavours) were modeled on Spanish reds.

By contrast, Portuguese reds tend to be more hearty and rustic. Quit dry with a formal feeling. They resemble traditional French wines such as Bordeaux. Manly and challenging but awfully good at flattering grilled red meats.

I thought you might like to try an example of these two styles as your first lesson in understanding the reds of Spain and Portugal. My recommended ‘Almansa Reserva’ is warmhearted, plumy rich and very seductive. All things nice – rich foods and cuddly times. Touriga Nacional is one of the grape varieties in Port so it’s no surprise that it should produce a very concentrated red. ‘Vista TN’ is a very dry wine that starts out reserved –  but becomes interesting and engaging on the second glass.

Start your evening with a lighthearted Spanish white. Rene Barbier is gentle, fruity, and super pleasant. Pinot Grigio in red lipstick. All picks this week are tremendous value. Cheers to that.

RENE BARBIER 07 White, Penedes, Spain  332767 $9.60
BODEGAS PIQUERAS 05 Almansa Reserva, Spain 270363 $11.85
BODEGAS Alianca 06 Touriga Nacional ‘Vista TN’, Douro,  Portugal 613919 $12.90

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