Portuguese Pearls, one red, one white.

Portuguese Pearls, one red, one white.

Quinta da Lagoalva, Vinho Tinta 2011, 14.5%, Curious Wines (€14.99) and other stockists.

Colour: A bright and beautiful ruby.
Nose: Ripe fruit aromas.
Palate: Fresh and fruity flavours, slight spice, rich and velvety, a terrific mouthfeel and the long finish is more of the same. This has been compared to high quality Shiraz from the Barossa / McLaren Vale, an opinion that may possibly be underselling this outstanding wine. Very Highly Recommended.

This Vinho Regional Tejo is a blend of Castelão and Touriga Nacional. Tejo is the DOC and VR based around the River Tagus and Quinta da Lagoalva is noted by Hugh Johnson (2014 handbook) as one of the “more ambitious” producers.

Tinta, by the way, means red. You’ll notice that both the red and white used the traditional cork closure which is of course produced in Portugal. Cork, by the way, may be making something of a comeback. Indeed, it is well underway, according to Languedoc winemaker Philip Grant of Chateau Bellevue la Foret.

Speaking at a Winegeese event in L’Atitude 51 last month, Grant said he had noted a major improvement in the traditional closure since 2001 when the Portuguese cork industry reacted to the enormous pressure they was coming under from the emergence of the screw cap as the favourite closure of Australia and other wine producing countries.

Young and Refreshing from Setubal
Fontanario de Pegoes Palmela D.O. 2012, 12.5%, €11.99 to 12.99, Stockists 

This white wine is based on the Fernão Pires grape variety with a touch of Arinto. It is young, fruity, ever so slightly spicy, and with a refreshing finish, making it ideal to accompany any fish or salad dish. This aromatic grape is also called Maria Gomes.

It is produced in the Península of Setúbal, a region just south of Lisbon. Palmela is set in the east of the peninsula and it is here that the cooperative San Isidro de Pegões operates and produces quite a variety of wines, including some of the famous sweet wines based on the Moscatel grape.

Cooperatives are often looked down on and indeed ignored by many wine writers and importers but luckily not by all. Otherwise we could miss out on some very good wines indeed. Writer Jamie Goode says this is “possibly Portugal’s best co-op” and, with winemaker Jaime Quendera at the helm, it has won scores of awards.

If you haven’t tried a Portuguese white before, take a chance on this one. It is a gem and Very Highly Recommended.